Budget vote confirms irrelevance of Labour and shallowness of Tories

The Scottish Greens say tonight's (21 Feb) final vote in parliament on the 2019-20 Scottish Budget will confirm the irrelevance of Labour and the shallowness of the Tories.

Green MSPs were the only group in parliament to engage seriously in the budget process, forcing changes to SNP spending plans.

The Green budget deal reverses hundreds of millions of pounds of the SNP’s proposed cuts to local services, and provides councils with longer-term stability through multi-year funding deals, greater autonomy with plans to devolve powers over local taxes, and a commitment to work on a replacement for the outdated and unfair Council Tax.

Local councils body Cosla has welcomed the Green budget deal, putting on record its thanks for the Greens' role in securing more sustainable funding, and the commitment on giving councils discretionary taxation powers.

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"This year's Green budget deal builds on previous years' achievements, protecting public services and bringing about a fairer system of Income Tax. Green pressure means immediate help for councils to protect schools and social care, leisure centres and libraries, and there's longer-term reform to give councils stability and control.

"By contrast, the other opposition parties chose from the outset to whine from the sidelines and as a result they have delivered nothing for the communities they are supposed to represent. Labour in particular are becoming increasingly irrelevant, shirking the opportunity to influence a minority government to make Scotland fairer.

"The Tories' shallowness is fully exposed by their hysterical and misleading reaction to giving local councils the kind of taxation choices taken for granted in cities and regions across Europe.

"Greens will continue to bring constructive challenge in this parliament, and we look forward to getting on with delivering powers to local government and working toward a replacement for the hated Council Tax."

Harvie also responded to the Conservative Party’s hyperbole on powers for Councils to develop a Workplace Parking Levy:

“They once claimed to support localisation, but the Conservatives are apparently now imposing a national ban on their councillors even considering this new power. It’s dismal, but no surprise, that in a month when young people in Scotland and across the world have left their classrooms to demand urgent action on pollution and the climate crisis, the Tories and others are going frantic about car parking while offering nothing positive for people who walk, cycle or use public transport.

"But the increasingly deranged hard right Tories can be expected to ideologically oppose every tax; it’s more shocking that the Labour Party, which introduced this policy in England, used it in a Labour-run council and which included it in Labour manifestos for Scottish council elections, is also being opportunistic and misleading about what’s being proposed."