By Bob Duncan
Ruth Davidson has marked the first anniversary of her time in office with a call to cut over £1 billion from Scotland’s budget, in a move which the SNP have labelled “spectacularly misjudged”.
Ms Davidson had previously called for a 1p cut to income tax in Scotland, but today called for even steeper tax cuts stating: “I want us to look further to see if 1p in the pound is all we can afford”.

In 2016 when the cut would come in, every 1p reduction in income tax in Scotland would cost £560 million. This means that if income tax was cut even further than her previous statements have called for, Scotland’s budget would be facing a hole of at least £1.12 billion.

She made the remarks in a speech to mark her first year in the job as Scottish Conservative leader, a job which she said involves taking on "19 years of decline and stagnation at the ballot box" for the Tories.

She said her party would offer a "clear choice to the people of Scotland and not just an echo of the left-wing consensus that has dominated the devolution years".

Her speech echoed traditional Tory values and Ms Davidson argued that independence will not provide the answers to the "real challenges" facing Scots. She highlighted Scotland's rising unemployment rate, the number of children living in poverty and the "stubbornly high" difference in health between rich and poor.

"These challenges will not be met by independence, by swapping one set of flags and emblems for a different set, exchanging one parliament for another," she said.

On taxes, she said: "Scottish Conservatives want to see people keep more of the money they earn and not have it eaten up by excessive government spending.

“We believe in prioritising the family budget over the government budget. That is why we are committed to reducing personal taxation when the power to do so comes to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 and I want us to look further to see if 1p in the pound is all we can afford."

Ruth Davidson has also previously stated that the Barnett Formula will be “reviewed” if there is a No vote in 2014, revealing the Tories’ willingness to bring in even more savage cuts to Scotland’s budget if the referendum does not return a Yes vote.

Her call for Scotland’s budget to be slashed comes on the same day as a poll by Oxfam showing that 57% of Scots are against lowering taxes for everyone as would be required under Scotland’s tax varying powers.

SNP MSP Sandra White said:

"Ruth Davidson is becoming renowned for her gaffes, but even by her standards she has made a spectacular misstep today.  Before she has even come close to explaining how she would pay for her first tax cut, she has now stated that she wants to go even further.

"Ruth Davidson must now come clean with people in Scotland and explain exactly what part of the public sector is in the firing line for her £1 billion bombshell.

"People in Scotland want public services and the social contract that underpins society protected, not put on the chopping block in pursuit of Tory ideology.

"With today’s Oxfam poll revealing just how out of step with the Scottish public Ruth Davidson is, today’s gaffe has been a fitting way to mark her hapless first year as leader.

"Only a Yes vote in 2014 will protect Scotland from the dismal prospect of the anti-independence parties taking the axe to Scotland’s budget and rolling back the progress that has been made by the Scottish Parliament."


# fynesider 2012-11-06 08:26
Get rid of this wumman!
# Jim Johnston 2012-11-06 13:19
No fynesider,
Davison, Rennie, Lamont and Carlaw are the midfield powerhouse of the Union. Their Westminster managers can't see the wall never mind the writing on it. Leave them alone, gaun yersel' Unoin, you're daein fine.
# fynesider 2012-11-06 14:26
"She (Ruth Davidson) made the remarks in a speech to mark her first year in the job as Scottish Conservative leader, a job which she said involves taking on "19 years of decline and stagnation at the ballot box" for the Tories."

I think that Aunty Bella sits behind RD in Holyrood... keep an eye out for knife-sharpening..!

No offence taken Silverytay
# Dundonian West 2012-11-06 14:42
Leave them ALL exactly where they are.
They are incapable/unwilling of EVER engaging in a serious debate re independence versus unionism.
All they can do is sling mud,in the absence of POSITIVE reasons for maintaining the England-Scotland Union.
It's well past it's sell by date,and has to go before the UK Establishment down South brings the people in Scotland (ALL of us) down with it.
# clootie 2012-11-06 08:53
I'm OK now so let's pull up the ladder / too much welfare paid / let's end universal benefit / the list goes on.

When Ruth Davidson says it I'm not that surprised as Toryies are only doing what they have always done. Whem Johann Lamont says it then I must confess to surprise that this could be Labour policy in Scotland.

Your nation will be judged by how fair it's society is in dealing with those less fortunate.

Any party that puts a Trident replacement ahead of the welfare of it's citizens should be rejected by the electorate.
Labour / LibDems and the Tories all put "Influence on the World stage" ahead of the welfare of people.

I don't mind my tax going to help people / upgrading infrastructure / building hospitals / free education for the young etc. I DO NOT like my tax going to WMD's or Force Projection Platforms.

The debate is not about TAX - it's how you spend it.
# Ben Power 2012-11-06 09:21
Thank you clootie, thoroughly agree and hardly a truer statement could be made about tax
"The debate is not about TAX - it's how you spend it."
Tax collected from people to threaten and kill other people is not a goer, except for psychopaths who think it perfectly ok.
# ButeHouse 2012-11-07 22:40
clootie says: 'Any party that puts a Trident replacement ahead of the welfare of it's citizens should be rejected by the electorate'.

I couldn't have put it better myself clootie. But this isn't just the Tory position, this is the UNIONIST position.

Even leading London politicians have admitted that Trident is less for defence and more for maintaining Britain's seat and veto on the UN Security Council - the ultimate in TOP TABLES.

Well I'm sorry but that seat at Top Table doesn't increase our state pension, nor does it pay for more nurses, doctors, teachers, hospitals or schools.

It's the ultimate Vanity Project and Scots say NO to that and YES to Independence.

# Silverytay 2012-11-06 09:10
Dont be daft (no offense intended ) Next to call me dave, Ruthie and the lamentable one are the 2 best recruiting agents we have .
# Koenig 2012-11-06 09:23
Scotland doesn't need any cuts. The only reason we are facing savage cuts is to pay for England's huge deficit and debt. Now 10 years of deficit! She is basically asking us to vote for a policy to help an abusive partner who is spending out of control and has racked up massive debts.
# rapid 2012-11-06 10:29
hate to defend this but surely a 1p cut in come tax may (or may not) result in a fall in the overall tax take...

There are differeing opinions but, in the latest example of income tax changes the raising of the top rate from 40% to 50% resulted in a lower overall tax take as business owners deferred income and paid themselves less - whilst others simply took income in other countries or other forms of payment (some legal, and some not so legal)
# Aplinal 2012-11-06 11:05
The issue you mention depends on the 'demographic' of the tax payers a s a whole. In the "rUK" for example, there is a significantly higher proportion of high tax payers than in Scotland. They certainly engage more high earners (Accountants) to find loopholes in the law to minimise their tax payments. I am not sure that the same numbers apply in Scotland.

On a related point, it is not so much about what the tax rate is, it is about simplifying the tax laws to make avoidance non-profitable, and in a more rigorous pursuit of tax-evasion. (Also end the 'deals' with the big corporate tax avoiders.

Tax laws in the UK are unnecessarily complicated, IMHO to enable the high earners to avoid much of the tax the "ordinary" person is stuck with.
# John Souter 2012-11-06 11:36
Rapid - the argument on tax rates is a diversionary red-herring.

People will always try to avoid taxes irrespective of the tax rate.
# davemsc 2012-11-06 12:16
This is a flawed analysis, since the government only allowed the increased top rate to be in place for a year before deciding it should be ditched. Had they bothered to wait for a time when people were not able to switch their money around so as to avoid paying it, they would have found that there was a commensurate increase in revenue. But they Tories have their rich donors to consider here, and the ridiculous Lib Dems went along with it, foolishly.
# Wee-Scamp 2012-11-06 11:31
What I don't hear from Ms Davidson is the Tory plan for growing and broadening the Scottish economy which is of course is how you generate the £1bn of additional revenue to replace the £1bn of tax she wants to cut.

Now that's assuming that she doesn't just want to slash public services. If she does then that's very worrying because that implies faster economic and social decline.

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