Sturgeon attacks ‘party political’ civil service

NICOLA Sturgeon has launched an angry attack on UK civil servants branding them “transparently party political”.

Nicola Sturgeon wants an explanation from Treasury. Picture: John Devlin
Nicola Sturgeon wants an explanation from Treasury. Picture: John Devlin

It follows a Treasury report published yesterday which claimed that the SNP’s anti-austerity spending plans would drive up UK debt – contrary to Ms Sturgeon’s claims.

The First Minister hit out in a letter to Sir Jeremy Heywood, the head of the civil service, which also bemoaned David Cameron’s refusal to allow the SNP access to civil servants before the election.

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“It is clearly the case that the UK government is including the SNP in political attacks prepared at taxpayers’ expense – while continuing to exclude us from pre-election access to the civil service,” she states.

“This inconsistency reeks of hypocrisy, as well as a Treasury which has become transparently party political.”

Ms Sturgeon is now demanding an “explanation for this clear inconsistency”. She also “refuted” the Treasury document and said it underlines the “damaging, wrong-headed and unfair austerity economics”.

Ms Sturgeon claimed last month that SNP plans to ease future austerity could free up an extra £180 billion of spending and bring down debt. But the Treasury analysis suggested debt as a share of GDP would rise from 81.9 per cent now to 82.2 per cent in 2017-18, and that by the end of the new parliament, this would stand at 81.4 per cent, compared with 81.1 per cent at the start.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said the analysis confirms that under the SNP’s plan, the deficit “would fall every year and debt will fall steadily after 2017-18 allowing an additional £180bn of expenditure along with sustainable public finances”.

Ms Sturgeon’s complaints were dismissed by the Coalition last night.A source close to Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander said costing opposition proposals is a “normal part” of Treasury business.

“Such costing exercises are undertaken under strict guidelines to ensure impartiality. It is striking that nowhere in the letter does the SNP question the analysis itself.”

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