Jackson Carlaw unveils tax cut plan as he launches Tory leadership bid

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Tory leadership favourite Jackson Carlaw has unveiled plans to cut taxes for Scots middle-earners  who face an "unfair burden."

The Eastwood MSP also set out plans for a sweeping review of all party policies in Scotland as he launched his leadership campaign in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Jackson Carlaw pledged to tackle "unfair" tax burden

Jackson Carlaw pledged to tackle "unfair" tax burden

And he told supporters: "Our ambition is to remove Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP from power."

The interim party leader also said he would restore the 2000 teachers numbers who have been lost from Scotland's classrooms since the SNP came to power in 2007.

Mr Carlaw clearly had one eye on next year's Holyrood election and will seek to place the tax issue at the heart of the campaign if he defeats South of Scotland MSP Michelle Ballantyne in the contest.

The Scottish Government overhauled the system of income tax bands north of the border two years ago. Now Scots earning £27,000 and above will pay more than workers elsewhere in the UK on the same salary.

"That is just unfair," Carlaw said today.

"Scottish Conservatives will argue for a rebalancing of taxation in Scotland, focussing not on those at the top of the earnings scale, but on those on lower incomes for whom the burden of extra tax has become so evidently unfair."

Mr Carlaw said Scots who earn £26,000 to £45,000 were not the "affluent elite" and would be targeted by him for a tax break if he wins power.

"They work hard, they shouldn't be paying more for doing the job they do to advance their lives and the lives of their families," he added.

And forthcoming reductions in national insurance planned for Scotland in the UK Budget must be honoured in full by the SNP Government without an "SNP clawback."

The controversial workplace parking tax would also be scrapped under any future Tory administration headed up by Mr Carlaw.

"It is unjust and plan wrong and we will oppose it or abolish it at every opportunity," he added.

Mr Carlaw only rival is Mrs Ballantyne for the role of Scottish party leader with the winner to be announced next month.

An "urgent review" of all Scottish Tory policies will will be undertaken if Mr Carlaw wins the leadership contest which. It could see the party's opposition to free tuition axed and will also look at the controversial "rape clause." aspect of welfare reforms.

"If this review leads to us leaving some policy positions behind, some even long-held positions, then so be it," Mr Carlaw added.

"Once we get this leadership contest over, we need to hit the ground running, because time is very short."

Mr Carlaw was reluctant to proclaim himself as a candidate to be First Minister at today's launch.

He did but concede under questioning that he wanted the role, but said the immediate focus would be to remove the SNP from office in next year's Holyrood election, then enter the Parliamentary machinations of seeking to form a Government.

"I have spent the last 18 months taking on Nicola Sturgeon - I am asking you now to let me spent the next 18 months taking her down."