Sunday, September 14, 2008


Tavish Scott the new Scottish LibDem leader has broken one of the taboos in Scottish politics. He has said that it is desirable to use our right under the Scotland Act to cut income tax.

"We should use the Scottish Parliament's power to cut income tax by two pence in the pound."

He should be commended for this complete reversal of party policy. The Conservatives must, quite deservedly, be feeling sick as a flock of parrots for not saying this first. We can be certain that he has not done this without checking with some focus groups that the public want it.

As somebody expelled from the Lib Dems for supporting lower taxes on the grounds that this was "illiberal" & "too right wing" to even be discussed I am pleased to see that eternal liberal principles have changed in the intervening 2 years.

As leader of the 9% Growth Party, the only party to have campaigned in last year's election for cutting Scottish income tax I am pleased to see that Mr Scott is now a follower of ours. In the same way while we were the only party to campaign for new nuclear power, the Labour & Conservative parties have now followed us on that. To round it off, since we supported X-Prizes for space development, the SNP have offered one for a sea turbine & subsequently,& quite possibly consequently, John McCain offered one for an improved battery.

Nonetheless I cannot fully endorse Mr Scott's about face for 3 reasons.

1) He has made no specific proposal as to how it should be paid for. We said that a 3p cut should be paid for out of the £1 billion a year of pointless windmill subsidies.

2) 2p is a very silly figure to choose. There is a fixed cost in changing the rate which is about equivalent to 1p income tax. Therefore it makes financial sense to go for a 3p cut or nothing. 2p is falling between 2 stools.

3) We have been quite clear that the first priority is encouraging growth & that the way to do that is, as the Irish did, by cuts in corporation tax & rates which should be the priority. Desirable though income tax cuts are it is obvious that a one time only 2p in the £1 cut will provide only a fraction as much to ordinary people as Ireland's 7% growth (let alone the 9% we are committed to), year on year.

Mr Scott is to be commended for making a single belated, half hearted, cynical about turn somewhat in the direction of economic sanity. Let us hope that, though he has been the first to break ranks on this issue, He will not be the last..

"I am favour of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible." to quote Milton Friedman. It may be the wrong tax to cut & by a silly amount but it is to be welcomed.

Our party may be small in votes & members but almost everybody in Scottish politics is now among our followers, which is a good start.