SNP growth chief warns Corbyn will “never” end Tory austerity

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The prospect of a UK Labour Government bringing an end to austerity in Scotland is “for the birds”, according to the head of a sweeping SNP blueprint to transform Scotland’s economy after independence.

Andrew Wilson, chair of the party’s Growth Commission, has defended the proposed spending curbs earmarked for the first decade of independence amid concerns from left-wing supporters of independence this is a recipe for more austerity.

Andrew Wilson has defended the proposed spending curbs earmarked for the first decade of independence. Picture: PA

Andrew Wilson has defended the proposed spending curbs earmarked for the first decade of independence. Picture: PA

But it came as Labour leader Richard Leonard launched a stinging attack on the SNP’s record at Holyrood in tackling Tory austerity.

Mr Wilson insists that the report shows public spending could still increase in the first decade of independence, but must remain within the broader rate of GDP growth. This would bring the country’s £113 billion spending deficit - the difference between the cost of public services and taxes raised to pay for them - under control.

“All of the evidence of the country’s we’ve looked at shows the outcomes are better - not only do they have higher living standards, but they have better and more coherent societies,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland.

“Waiting for a Labour Government to make the UK better is for the birds - it’s not going to happen.

He added: “Let’s see if they (Labour) ever have the chance to deploy whatever plan they’ve got. I’ve not really seen a coherent plan from that side of the debate thus far and there certainly isn’t one for Scotland where the financial controls are so limited.

“What we can see and what we can learn from history is that Britain is the most unequal performing economy by a mile, in Europe and in the industrialised world.

“There is nothing in any of the prospectuses I’ve seen to tackle that problem of regional inequality. All of the risks for Scotland are in doing nothing - sticking with what we’ve got right now.”

The former Nationalist MSP said he “absolutely and emphatically” wants to see another independence referendum which Ms Sturgeon is proposing, but left the timing to political leaders.

“We will require to choose what’s in our best interests at a time when we’re ready really,” he said

“All of the conclusions of the report are that if we want to succeed as a country to get the same living standards and social cohesion of the countries that we’ve identified, we need to be the same as the most successful countries in the world which would mean independence.”

“The timing for me really is for political leaders to determine - what we’ve tried to do is to say whenever we’re asked to choose, then we will be prepared for it and we’ve got a prospectus which sets out in some detail exactly what we would be starting with.”

Mr Leonard used a weekend interview to slam the SNP’s record on social equality.

“The Scottish Parliament is not being used as fully as it was designed to be,” he told the Daily Record.

“It should be a bulwark against Tory policies but the SNP are stagnant and timid.”

Mr Leonard insisted that his mission was to “fundamentally change” the economic system.