The growing consensus in favour of the Scottish Government’s position in the fiscal framework negotiations has been welcomed today – after the STUC branded Tory plans to use the negotiations to cut Scotland’s budget by the back door as “entirely unacceptable”.
General Secretary of the STUC Grahame Smith said that anything other than the Scottish Government’s preferred option “would be to the severe detriment of future public spending in Scotland” and called on the UK government to “honour pledges made during the Independence Referendum that Scotland would enjoy the best of both worlds in voting to remain in the Union and agreeing additional fiscal powers.”
The pressure on the Labour party to back the SNP’s position was also intensified – after Grahame Smith said that it “would be entirely wrong for the Scottish Government’s political opponents to categorise the hard bargaining position that it must adopt on this matter as a ‘dragging of feet’ on new powers.”
This intervention follows analysis earlier in the week published by Professor Anton Muscatelli, which showed that some suggested mechanisms for adjusting Scotland’s budget following the devolution of further powers could see Scotland’s budget fall by at least £3.5 billion over 10 years.
Commenting, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani – who represented the SNP on the Smith Commission – said:
“This is a welcome intervention by the STUC – who have joined the growing consensus in Scotland in favour of the SNP Government’s position and against the Tory plans to use these negotiations to cut billions from Scotland’s budget by the backdoor.
“The STUC have also piled the pressure on Labour to make clear that they stand with the SNP in backing the best deal for Scotland, rather than backing the Tory treasury.
“For the Labour party to find itself on the opposite side from Scotland’s trade unions, and on the same side as the Tory Treasury would only confirm that they simply can’t be trusted by people in Scotland.
“This isn’t an argument about how much financial detriment or what size of cut to Scotland’s budget is acceptable – the Smith Agreement said no detriment and that’s exactly what the UK Government must agree to.
“The Scottish Government has set out clear, fair plans which would guarantee the powers we were promised are delivered with a financial deal which would ensure Scotland’s budget is not cut by the back door.
“Every party in Scotland should join the SNP and the STUC in backing these common-sense plans – the people of Scotland would expect nothing less.”