Scottish party leaders clash on cost-of-living and NHS

The leaders of Scotland’s main political parties have gone head-to-head on the cost-of-living crisis and NHS waiting times during a BBC Scotland debate. First Minister John Swinney accused Labour and the Conservatives of “not being straight with voters” about £18bn of spending cuts.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said there will be “unequivocally no austerity under a Labour government”.
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, said his party will further cut National Insurance. The party leaders were questioned by members of the public on a wide range of issues during a BBC Scotland Debate Night leaders’ special in Glasgow. In a heated exchange on what their parties would do to help working class families navigate the cost-of-living crisis, SNP leader John Swinney said the economic research group the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned of £18bn of public spending cuts which would follow the election of either a Conservative or Labour government.

He said neither party is being honest with the public and accused Labour of “signing up” to cuts “by accepting the fiscal constraints of the Tories”. Mr Swinney said there is a “fixed sum” of money available to the Scottish government but said “tough decisions” by ministers at Holyrood to increase taxes had made more cash available for services. He said his party had helped working class families by introducing the Scottish Child Payment and scrapping school meal debt. That is the reality people are facing in this election – austerity from the Tories or austerity from the Labour Party,” he said.

John Swinney

Mr Sarwar told him: “Read my lips. No austerity under Labour. He said there would be “unequivocally” no austerity under a UK Labour government and said his party would “make work pay” by ensuring pay rose for more than 200,000 people in Scotland. The Scottish Labour leader hit out at the UK Conservative government for the “carnage the Conservatives have imposed on this country and the state of the public finances”. Mr Sarwar went on to say that the election was a chance to oust the Tories from power.

Both the SNP and the Conservatives oppose Labour’s plans for a windfall tax on the energy industry.
Douglas Ross warned it could lead to the loss of 100,000 jobs, a claim which has also been made by the SNP.
BBC Verify has previously concluded this claim was misleading. Mr Ross said his party would help tackle the cost-of-living crisis by cutting national insurance by a further 2p, a policy announced in the Conservative manifesto on Tuesday.

Source: BBC

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