Labour rivals can’t wait to get their hands on taxpayers’ £3bn
SCOTS Labour leadership rivals have racked up an eyewatering £3 billion in spending pledges between them, according to latest Scottish Tory analysis.
The commitments would be funded by crippling tax increases under governments led by either Anas Sarwar or Richard Leonard.
However, as the Tories attacked the Labour candidates, Mr Sarwar fought back by promising to seize upon the ‘utter chaos’ in the UK Government to win back middle-class voters.
Scottish Labour has slipped to third in Holyrood, council and Westminster elections in recent years, behind the SNP and Tories.
But whoever wins the bitter Labour leadership contest next Saturday will immediately set their sights on Bute House.
Labour has overtaken the Tories in the polls, and the SNP vote continues to fall after more than a decade in power. According to the Tories, Mr Leonard has pledged £1.6 billion extra spending, and Mr Sarwar £1.4 billion.
In addition, Mr Leonard – who is seen as the candidate closest to Jeremy Corbyn – has promised a raft of renationalisation.
That includes the buyout of PFI – public projects using private finances – which he has estimated would cost £28.8 billion, almost the equivalent of the Scottish budget.
Mr Sarwar, who is committed to a review of PFI contracts, is also planning major income tax reform, which would raise £700 million. His rival has proposed a ‘wealth tax’ raising £3.7 billion from Scotland’s millionaires – although this would have to be signed off by the UK Government.
Murdo Fraser, Scots Tory finance spokesman, said: ‘This is clear evidence that, regardless of the outcome, Scottish Labour’s dogmatic determination to nationalise and spend will wreck Scotland’s economy.’
Mr Sarwar said: ‘Under my leadership, our opposition to independence and a second independence referendum will never be in doubt. I give a castiron guarantee that Scottish Labour will never, ever, support the break-up of the UK. We will be a credible opposition.’
He has been boosted by the backing of MSP Johann Lamont who led the Scottish party with Mr Sarwar as her deputy. She said: ‘We have the opportunity to choose a man who can embody an outward-looking, diverse Labour Party.’
Mr Leonard insisted his plans for higher spending would be used to tackle poverty, while mass nationalisation and a new industrial strategy would boost the economy.
He said: ‘I will top up child benefit by £5 for every child, taking 30,000 children out of poverty, and also use our powers to mitigate against the benefit cap.
‘I will be bolder than the current government when it comes to supporting public ownership, not just for transport but for energy and co-operatives as well.’
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