MSPs vote out socialists' plan to replace council tax

A BID by the Scottish Socialist Party to win support for a call to dump the council tax has been heavily defeated in the Scottish Parliament.

Tommy Sheridan’s party had hoped for backing from other parties in its demand for the tax to be scrapped and replaced with an income-based alternative.

But MSPs last night voted by 88 votes to 33 for an Executive amendment which said an independent review of local government finance should be asked to examine different methods of local taxation, including local income tax.

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The vote came after a fiery debate in which Labour MSP Christine May called the SSP leader "despicable", a remark she immediately withdrew at the prompting of the deputy presiding officer, Murray Tosh.

Mr Sheridan claimed MSPs opposed his party’s proposed "Scottish Service Tax" - an income-based replacement for the council tax - as they would pay an average of 3000 under his blueprint. He told Liberal Democrat deputy finance minister Tavish Scott: "You, minister, will pay significantly more because you can afford to pay more."

Council tax and its possible replacement also dominated First Minister’s Questions, where SNP leader John Swinney accused Jack McConnell of prejudicing the Executive’s promised independent review of local government finance by rubbishing the SNP’s own proposals for a local income tax.