MACDONALD CHALLENGES LOCAL TORY COUNCILLOR
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 15:55
Angus MacDonald SNP MSP for Falkirk East has written to Councillor Malcolm Nicol, leader of the Tory Group in Falkirk Council and one of the Depute Leaders of the Falkirk Council administration to challenged him as to whether he agrees with Priti Patel that there should be more cuts in Scotland if there is a ‘no’ vote in the referendum.
As revealed in The Daily Record newspaper this week, top Tory MP Priti Patel – who was one of David Cameron’s ‘A-list’ candidates – launched a tirade against what she called the "funding imbalance" of the Barnett formula, claiming that:
“Scots are basically getting a better deal than the rest of the country…These are considerable sums of money which should be reduced as part of the deficit reduction plans.”
Ms Patel then went on to suggest that devolution should be used as a vehicle for the Tories to inflict brutal spending cuts:
“When you think about the prevailing doctrine in all the parties in Scotland, everyone is talking about more devolution. So there is a good opportunity now for the UK Government to actually start having discussions to make sure that Scotland actually pays for itself.”
In her speech, Ms Patel completely failed to mention the significantly higher tax revenue generated in Scotland. Official figures show that Scotland generates 9.6% of the UK tax revenue, in return for just 9.3% of expenditure.
The remarks were made in a speech to the Thatcherite Institute for Economic Affairs – described by Andrew Marr as "the most influential think tank in modern British history" – which give an insight into what Tories have planned for Scotland in the event of a No vote in 2014.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has previously predicted that the Barnett formula will be reviewed after 2014, in the event of a No vote. The SNP have now called on Ms Davidson to confirm that Scotland more than pays her way, and to urgently rule out any disproportionate cuts from Westminster.
Commenting, Mr MacDonald said:
“What unbelievable clap-trap from this top Tory – and a huge embarrassment to Ruth Davidson. Once again the Tory mask has slipped, and we see the true attitude of the UK Government towards Scotland.
“We now need to know where the Conservative Group at Falkirk Council stand on this issue. As part of the ruling administration with Labour in Falkirk the Tory Group Leader Councillor Malcolm Nicol must tell us whether he agrees with his colleague down south, Priti Patel, who I believe betrays the real thoughts of the Conservatives not just at Westminster but Holyrood as well.
“Scotland more than pays its way in the UK – generating 9.6% of the UK tax revenue in return for just 9.3% of expenditure - but who can doubt that the Tories would cut Scotland's budget even further if the referendum result was No.
“These people are making all of the key decisions about how much money can be spent in Scotland – yet they have been overwhelmingly rejected by the Scottish electorate time and time again.
“Ruth Davidson herself is implicated in this row, as she has also called for a 'review' of Scotland's funding formula after 2014. That is clearly Tory-speak for 'cut', which makes a Yes vote in the referendum essential for the sake of the public services that we all value - such a free personal care and no tuition fees. Ruth Davidson must clarify whether she agree with Priti Patel - as her previous remarks suggest - or not.
“At least now we are actually beginning to get some clarity from the anti-independence parties as to what a No vote would mean for Scotland. Unfortunately, we are finding out that it is set to mean more brutal and disproportionate cuts - which is why it is important that the referendum result is Yes."