BBC 🔵 Scottish leaders debate: Party bosses clash on cost of living, the NHS and independence – BBC News – Shango Media
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BBC 🔵 Scottish leaders debate: Party bosses clash on cost of living, the NHS and independence – BBC News

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« Read my lips, » said Anas Sarwar. The Scottish
Labour leader was using a slogan from the US presidential campaign of George HW
Bush in 1988.

His promise then was « no new taxes » – which he
later, infamously, broke. It’s not a good presidential precedent.

Labour’s promise is « no return to austerity »,
while also locking itself into several promises on not raising taxes, and only
specifying a limited range of taxes that will go up. Similar reassurances have
come from Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

SNP leader John Swinney said a Labour government would
return to austerity, meaning a squeeze on public services and welfare.

Among the independent think tanks he cited, the Institute
for Government has said: « The main parties are promising to address the chronic
problems evident in many public services. But this is hard to square with
current government spending plans for the next parliament which imply large
real terms cuts to funding for many public services… Labour has broadly
signed up to the government’s headline spending plans.

« The promises on tax (coupled with promises to limit
borrowing and debt) imply tight limits on public spending…

« The tax pledges seriously undermine the credibility of
their public service aspirations: the parties are presumably hoping the
electorate will not notice. »

Paul Johnston, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies,
said of the main parties: « Neither is addressing the big problems they’ll
face if they win the election. The numbers imply big spending cuts over the
next five years unless there are big tax rises or the parties break their
promises on getting the debt down. But they don’t want to talk about
that. »

The next government could get out of this tight corner if it
can stimulate more growth in the economy.

Meanwhile, John Swinney will be aware that such think tanks
can also turn their attention to SNP plans, for government and for
independence. More of that in 2026.

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