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The first warns that child poverty can only get worse under Tory cuts. MP Eilidh Whiteford says that a report from Policy In Practice shows cuts to child credit will see a 10 per cent increase in child poverty by 2020.
She said: “It’s clear that this Tory government remain wedded to austerity and these latest cuts – which fall on already stretched low and middle income households – will actually increase child poverty and exacerbate the deep-rooted injustices that exist in our society thanks to a bombardment of cuts from Westminster.”
She added: “The SNP Scottish Government are determined to deliver a more equal, fair and inclusive society and that’s why we are committed to using every ounce of the limited powers we have to reduce poverty and tackle inequality.”
Whiteford is a conscientious MP and is genuine in her concern.
The second email, a day later, takes a very different tone. MSP Maree Todd is delighted to tell us that independent analysis shows Scots spend 24 per cent less on council tax than folk in England.
She says the research from the Scottish Parliament “proves beyond all doubt that Scottish taxpayers continue to get the best deal out of anyone in the UK, thanks to the SNP.”
You will have spotted the problem with the two emails – one says we need more tax to build a fair society, the other that fairness is lower tax than England.
Whiteford’s pledge that the “SNP Scottish Government are determined to deliver a more equal, fair and inclusive society and that’s why we are committed to using every ounce of the limited powers we have to reduce poverty and tackle inequality” is undone by Todd’s boast that it’s “taxpayers (who) get the best deal”.
The third email doesn’t yet exist. It will address the independent analysis which shows the Scottish economy is slipping into recession, something which is not happening in England.
If the economy stops growing, there will be less money for services as the Scottish Government are more reliant than ever on raising their own funds from taxing economic performance.
Now all governments are guilty of claiming any success as a triumph of their wise policy-making and all failures on forces beyond their control.
The problem for the SNP is that they have been in power for more than 10 years, have acquired substantial new powers in that time and now control all tiers of government.
Come the May local elections, it is possible that every town hall in the country will be under SNP rule.
This is a quite astonishing dominance of the political system – it makes Trump, May and Merkel all look like rank amateurs at the election game. And it comes with a growing problem.
The contradictions look less like the everyday confusion of government and more like a cynical policy to keep the illusion of a bounteous independence alive (Whiteford’s email) while also reassuring those cautious soft-Tory voters that low tax is a priority (Todd’s email).
And to do all this while ignoring fundamental evidence which shows Scotland is economically paused, if not actually in reverse.
It treats the voters like wide-eyed fools at a Derren Brown magic show. The trick we are being invited to believe is that we outspend England (we don’t do those hateful cuts) but raise less tax than England.
That sounds like a genius wheeze. It’s almost as if the argument, taken as a whole, doesn’t make sense.
That surely can’t be true because, as a nation, we are about to be represented by the SNP at every level to a fanatical degree.
Yet it appears our party for all seasons, and with answers for all causes, are so confident of success they can parade their contradictions.