Kelly wants top tax rate of 50p
James Kelly MSP has called for a 50p tax rate for top earners to pay for an improved education system in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.
The Labour business manager used a debate in the Scottish Parliament to challenge the Scottish Government to use their new powers to close the attainment gap.
He also accused the SNP of “working hand in glove” with the Conservatives to block a Labour amendment to introduce the 50p tax rate.
Mr Kelly said: “Last week we had a real chance to make a difference to thousands of young people across Scotland, but instead the SNP working hand in glove with Tories blocked the Labour amendment.
“This is another example of the SNP talking left and acting right, and once again showing us they are nothing more than tartan Tories.”
Figures released last week suggested more than 6000 Scottish children were leaving primary school unable to read properly.
They also said private school pupils in Scotland are twice as likely to get an A in their Highers than state school pupils and that school leavers from richer backgrounds are twice as likely to go on to higher education than those from poorer backgrounds.
Mr Kelly added: “Every child deserves the very best start in life and I will work with anyone who wants to transform and open up opportunities for our young people.
“The government in Edinburgh need to wake up; the complacency from SNP backbenchers during the debate was astonishing.
“They need to start focusing on what matters now and accept responsibility for the over 4000 teachers cut, the rising class sizes, and the unfair cuts to school budget.
“Scotland is the only part of the UK where that has happened.
“Closing the gap in our schools between the rich and the rest must be our number one priority.
“If the Scottish Government is serious about closing the gap in our classrooms then they need to listen and grasp this opportunity before it’s too late.”
The Scottish Parliament will have control of the rate of income tax north of the border from April 1 next year.
Rutherglen SNP responded to Mr Kelly’s comments by accusing him of wanting the Government to take action on something that was, for now, outwith their power.
Clare Haughey, who will stand against Mr Kelly at next year’s Scottish election, said: “Mr Kelly is proposing that the Scottish Government use powers in a 2015 Westminster Bill which has not yet been passed.
“The tax powers in the 2012 bill will not even come into force until next year.
“Right now the Scottish Government are investing to ensure every child has the best start in life, with free learning and childcare, a £100million attainment fund that will target improvements in numeracy and literacy and £ 51m next year to maintain teacher numbers.
“If Mr Kelly really wants to help our young people achieve in school I suggest he talks to his Labour colleagues at South Lanarkshire Council and ask them to reverse the cuts to free school transport.”
This is another example of the SNP talking left and acting right
Tax James Kelly MSP