Danny Alexander's economic credibility crumbling

Commenting on Danny Alexander’s latest intervention into the independence debate, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said it was another example of the double-speak and double-think that pervades the anti-independence campaign’s increasing negativity, and seriously questioned the Chief Secretary to the Treasury’s credibility and competence in his government role.

Mr Gibson also said that using Danny Alexander to make such claims only highlighted his astonishing hypocrisy, since he was the Chief Secretary to the Treasury who reportedly boasted about INCREASING taxation on the North Sea oil industry, and his shambolic performance on national radio this morning sounded like someone who has absolutely no confidence anymore in what he is saying.

The SNP listed a range of actions and claims by Danny Alexander which question his credibility and competence, where he:

• Was reported telling a London City audience that the oil tax increase the UK government imposed on the North Sea, and which threatened developments and jobs in the North Sea was “my idea, which I proposed a few months ago.”

• Argued that the UK Government's £10 billion tax raid on the offshore industry “would be good for people in the north and north-east.”

• Claimed mortgage rates would be linked to government bond issues in an independent Scotland - a claim knocked down by Dan Macdonald - former Chairman of the Scottish Property Federation in 2007/8

• Said cutting the top rate of tax would be ‘cloud cuckoo land’ - and now supports a budget that is doing exactly that.

• Recently claimed that regional public sector pay was a “distant and unlikely prospect,” when it was he who previously wrote to the Welsh First Minister saying he was “keen” to see it introduced.

• Is part of a budget ‘omnishambles’ which has resulted in embarrassing u-turns on the 3p rise in fuel duty, tax relief on charitable donations, and VAT on pasties and caravans.

• Went into the 2010 election pledging not to increase tuition fees, to oppose an increase in VAT and on a platform that would not back Tory austerity cuts, before entering government with the Tories to do exactly the opposite.

Commenting, Mr Gibson – convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee - said:

“Danny Alexander epitomises the sheer dishonesty of the anti-independence parties, who are addicted to scaremongering when it comes to the independence debate. His shambolic performance on national radio this morning portrayed someone who has zero confidence in what they are saying.

“For the man who was reported boasting about being the author of the UK government’s increase in oil taxation then to claim the same would happen in an independent Scotland is the height of hypocrisy. Mr Alexander seems to have also forgotten that the Treasury did no analysis before making these tax changes.

“Coming so soon after his other economically illiterate claims on mortgages, the question should be asked if the recent UK government budget omnishambles is reflective of a lack of competence and credibility at the heart of the Treasury.

“Maybe Mr Alexander could explain why Norway has never looked back since establishing its oil fund in the 1990s, and why Scotland should not also have the benefit of our own enormous oil wealth.

“Instead, Scotland’s wealth has been squandered by successive Westminster Governments – Tory, Labour, and Con/Dem. With over half of the value still to be extracted from North Sea oil and gas – representing a £1.5 trillion asset base – it is vital that Scotland achieves independence and establishes an oil fund so that Scotland gets the benefit of our own resources, now and into the future.”