Austerity from the current Tory Government at Westminster is a policy choice, not a necessity.
The Conservatives’ continued obsession with austerity is ideological and one which chooses to turn a blind eye to the impact upon the most vulnerable in our society.
This week George Osborne has again wielded his axe on Scotland’s public finances, confirming a further £1 billion of cuts in real terms. That’s £1 billion less to pay for vital public services – schools, hospitals and police. And hidden deep inside the Budget document are further planned UK-wide cuts of £3.5 billion.
The Chancellor’s budget will cut £130 million each year from the incomes of 40,000 disabled people in Scotland, with two-thirds seeing their income cut by almost £3,000. That’s not fair, nor is it necessary. A civilised country is one which treats its people with dignity and respect – it doesn’t marginalise and stigmatise by administering cruel and punitive cuts.
Taxing the lowest paid – as the Labour party are proposing in Scotland – doesn’t tackle austerity, it just passes the burden onto those who can least afford to pay.
The SNP has offered a credible, costed alternative – showing that the UK deficit and debt can be reduced without massive cuts, and indeed with scope to invest in public services while still reducing public sector debt and borrowing.
That’s the change of course that Scotland needs – but meantime the Tory Chancellor is stuck on ideological autopilot driving him deeper and deeper towards further austerity.