Ruth Davidson warns against two-party ‘tax escalator’

Davidson warned of the economic consequences of higher taxes. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
Davidson warned of the economic consequences of higher taxes. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
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Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson warned Scotland would be trapped on “a high tax escalator” if the SNP and Labour are returned as the two leading parties in the next Scottish Parliament.

During a speech in Glasgow, Davidson contrasted the SNP and Labour with the Conservatives’ “moderate” approach to tax as she tried to position herself as a credible opposition leader.

Davidson’s speech focused on the statements made by her opponents on BBC Scotland’s Leaders’ Debate, last Thursday.

During the debate SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said that she wants to introduce a 50p rate of income tax for the highest earners and Labour’s Kezia Dugdale confirmed her intention to add a penny on income tax across all bands.

Davidson said: “I want to deliver the kind of balanced parliament that will make better decisions for all of us. I am afraid that will not happen if the principal fight in Scotland continues to be Labour versus the SNP.

“We saw what will happen from Thursday night’s debate – we will end up with a high tax First Minister being told by a high tax opposition leader that taxes aren’t high enough.

“My fear is that the SNP and Labour will ensure Scotland is trapped for the next five years on a high tax escalator, with the political contest solely focused on who can tax more.

“That won’t grow jobs – it will cut jobs. That won’t boost the economy – it will damage the economy. That won’t support our public services – it will pile more cuts on them. And that’s why we’re needed. Because it is only us, the Scottish Conservatives, which can stop that escalator in its tracks.”

READ MORE: Ruth Davidson rules out immediate income tax cut

With new powers over income tax rates and bands coming to Holyrood in April next year, tax was again the dominant issue as the political parties took to the streets on the first weekend since the Scottish Parliament broke up for the May election.

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie rejected SNP plans to cut air passenger duty (APD) by 50 per cent, arguing it would encourage a race to the bottom and harm Scotland’s attempts to meet climate change targets.

Rennie said: “We are now facing a situation where the so-called progressives in the SNP are arguing for a tax cut that even George Osborne would never consider.”

Labour concentrated on health as Dugdale campaigned in the Edinburgh Southern constituency and the shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray was in Edinburgh Northern and Leith.

Labour highlighted figures, obtained by Freedom of Information legislation which indicated that more than 42,000 patients were moved between wards in the middle of the night last year.

Meanwhile, Sturgeon was out in the Pollok constituency with SNP candidate Humza Yousaf calling on her rivals to support SNP policies of opposition to tuition fees, increasing childcare provision by 45 per cent, expanding free school meals, extending the free bus pass, scrapping prescription charges and maintaining free personal and nursing care.