Ruth Davidson rules out tax cuts in bid to woo Labour voters

RUTH Davidson has ruled out cutting Scottish taxes below in the short term as she made a dramatic pitch for Labour voters.

Ruth Davidson has ruled out Scottish tax cuts in the short term. Picture: John Devlin

The Scottish Conservative leader said it would not be right to lower taxes below the rest of the UK at a time when public services needed support.

In a speech to her party conference, Ms Davidson appeared to backtrack on her previous proposals to use the new Holyrood powers to pursue a tax-cutting agenda.

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With the Conservatives attempting to overtake Labour as the main opposition party in Scotland, Ms Davidson indicated her priority was supporting the NHS and education.

“If we are going to cut tax rates in Scotland, I believe we, as a nation, need to earn it first and the truth is we haven’t done that yet,” Ms Davidson said.

“Right now when spending limits are still tough, when public services like our NHS and our eduction system need support, I don’t believe the time is right for a short term tax cut below that of the UK.”

Ms Davidson said she believed in low tax and would look at cutting it in the medium term.

“I am a Tory. It’s true I believe in less government and low tax. But as our Commission on tax reform said in January, those tax cuts have to be affordable. We can cut tax in Scotland, but over the medium term and our manifesto will show how.”

Earlier this year the Scottish Conservatives’ Tax Commission recommended that Scottish tax should not go above the rest of the UK.

Therefore Ms Davidson would match George Osborne’s proposal to raise the higher rate income tax threshold from £43,000 to £43,600.