Scottish Greens shun Labour to focus on negotiating with Scottish Government ahead of budget talks
SCOTTISH LABOUR has received a rebuke from the Scottish Green party for walking away from the prospect of any negotiation on the deadlock over the Scottish budget this week.
The comments follow an open letter sent to Green co-convener Patrick Harvie by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale asking for a “progressive alliance” against the Scottish Government.
“Labour walked away from the budget process some time ago, and they know full well only ministers can lodge amendments to the Budget Bill, so negotiation is the only responsible action.” Scottish Greens
Last week, Holyrood saw the budget debates end in deadlock after opposition parties expressed concerns over the effect of Scottish Government financing of local council budgets and demands by the Greens and Labour for more progressive measures.
In the letter, released today, (Wednesday 1 February) Kezia Dugdale said: “I am writing to you following media reports suggesting the Scottish Greens and the SNP government will potentially reach an agreement to pass the Scottish budget.
“As you will be aware, Labour and the Greens are the two parties closest on tax and spend policy in the Scottish Parliament. Along with the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Greens ran on manifestos committed to increasing progressive taxation to invest in public services.
“That is why I believe that together we can build an anti-austerity alternative to the current budget. By contrast, the Conservatives and the Nationalists mainly just disagree on how large the tax cut for the top 15 per cent should be, and as a consequence – our public services will suffer.”
However, speaking to CommonSpace, a spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said: “Discussions between Green MSPs and Scottish ministers are ongoing, and we are focused on how to raise additional funds fairly to protect council services.
“Labour walked away from the budget process some time ago, and they know full well only ministers can lodge amendments to the Budget Bill, so negotiation is the only responsible action.”
Later today more meetings will take place between the different parties to attempt to hash out a deal that will break the deadlock over the budget and allow it to pass.
“Discussions between Green MSPs and Scottish ministers are ongoing.” Scottish Greens
Labour has maintained that local government in Scotland has seen £1.4bn worth of real term cuts since 2011 with a further £327m due to be cut this year. The Scottish Government continues to point out it is labouring under huge real terms cuts being imposed by Westminster and the reduction in the Barnett formula. It also claims that it is granting more help to local councils to ease suffering. Ministers point to the extra £240m being given directly to local services by finance minister Derek Mackay in last year’s autumn budget. Opponents say this has been outweighed by cuts.
The Greens have maintained that more could be done in terms of tax increases on the wealthiest or reform of land tax and the council tax system to mitigated austerity.
Stage one of the next debate on the budget will take place tomorrow (Thursday 2 February) at the Scottish Parliament.
Picture courtesy of YouTube
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