Blairgowrie Advertiser

‘Irresponsi­ble’ mini budget is an embarrassm­ent

- John Swinney

Last week the chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, unveiled the UK government’s‘mini budget’.

It is safe to say that even those of us who were pessimisti­c about the prospect of a Liz Truss-led government were taken aback by the staggering­ly irresponsi­ble changes that were announced within the chancellor’s speech.

The UK government’s decision to scrap the 45p tax bracket for those earning over £150,000 is a moral and fiscal embarrassm­ent.

By any measurable standard this is a tax cut for the wealthiest in the country, and is definitive proof that the Tories will forever be on the side of the rich.

It is worth noting that the Tories did everything they could to avoid their proposals being subjected to scrutiny.

Normally, the Office for Budget Responsibi­lity, a government watchdog, will be afforded the opportunit­y to assess the economic impact of tax cuts such as those announced by the chancellor.

On this occasion, however, they were not given the chance to analyse the UK government’s decisions.

In the hours following the chancellor’s speech, it quickly became apparent why such scrutiny had been avoided.

Independen­t experts crunched the chancellor’s figures and their findings did not make pleasant reading.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that the only people who will benefit from the combinatio­n of tax cuts and frozen tax thresholds are those earning more than £150,000 a year.

The Resolution Foundation calculated that 45 per cent of the gains from the UK government’s tax cuts will go to the richest five per cent.

Moreover, the chancellor’s decision to cut taxes while increasing borrowing will drive up borrowing by an eye-watering £411bn over the next five years.

Given their apparent support for burgeoning debt, it may surprise you to know that Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng were enthusiast­ic supporters of the Tory Party’s post-2010 “austerity”policies, which had the expressed aim of reducing the UK government’s deficit.

But we shouldn’t be surprised that the Prime Minister and chancellor have flip-flopped on these supposed principles.

After all, the first and only litmus test for Tory policy is whether it will benefit their rich supporters.

With one speech, the chancellor also managed to obliterate the unionist argument that remaining as part of the UK is the safest economic choice for Scotland.

With the pound plunging to a near 40-year low against the dollar and interest rates soaring, this is a UK government that is willing to sacrifice economic security in their reckless pursuit of ultra-right-wing economic policies.

Indeed, the only way for the people of Scotland to finally free themselves from this madness is by independen­ce.

If there is any silver lining that can be taken from the past few days, it is that more and more of our fellow citizens are coming to this realisatio­n.

Don’t just take my word for it.

Last week’s publicatio­n of the annual British Social Attitudes Survey, the gold standard in public research that is led by Professor Sir John Curtice, showed that a record 52 per cent of Scots now support independen­ce – up from 23 per cent in 2012.

It is my suspicion that this figure will grow even larger as the people of Scotland realise just how unfair and callous this new UK government will prove to be.

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