Whenever a politician calls for consensus, hide your wallet.
Nothing good ever comes of the words ‘cross-party cooperation’. Working together is the surest sign they’re up to no good because, for all their grudges and enmities, the one thing they agree on is that more of your money should be in their hands.
Nicola Sturgeon is keen to reach an accord on her tax blueprint and made the point repeatedly at First Minister’s Questions. This is the first indication that her plans are a bad idea. The hyper-partisan SNP leader believes in consensus the same way Wile E Coyote believes in forming a close working relationship with the Road Runner. She has that glint in her eye that tells you someone is going to get eaten.
There are no elections for a while so the First Minister is a social democrat again and eager to raise taxes. If you want full details of her proposals, you can read them elsewhere on this page or draw a doodle of yourself being held upside down by your ankles until the lint falls out of your pockets.
Ruth Davidson suggested that those on a £24,000 salary may not be ideal candidates for a tax hike. Then again, by the time the SNP is done 24 grand will qualify you as super-rich in Scotland. Miss Davidson’s arguments fell on deaf ears. This was not helping us reach a consensus.
Miss Sturgeon puffed herself up, her left-wing heart thumping in her chest: ‘I know that progressive taxation and relating it to the ability to pay is not a principle that is particularly close to the hearts of the Conservatives but it is a principle very close to the hearts of the government.’
Before the last Holyrood election, when Labour were touting tax rises, the First Minister derided them as taking the ‘politically easy’ option. Such a move, she declared, ‘would not be radical. It would be reckless. It would not be daring. It would be daft’.
Say what you like about Nicola Sturgeon, she passionately believes whatever she happens to be saying at any given moment.
The Tory leader didn’t get an answer to what would become of average earners and the First Minister would give no ground on raiding their bank accounts. She has already stocked up on ski masks and swag bags.
The decision has been taken and all that’s left are a few months of moralising. At least the Artful Dodger gave you a song when he picked your pocket.
Alex Rowley was out sick so Jackie Baillie stepped in for Labour. Miss Baillie said there was a ‘black hole’ in the First Minister’s sums but didn’t press the point because what she really wanted was to have a right old go at the Nationalist boss.
Miss Baillie, who delivers sentences like right hooks, landed a brutal volley of random clauses: ‘For this government promises are made to be broken. Her promise to parents and teachers to cut class sizes? Broken. Her promise to our young people to abolish student debt? Broken. And her promise to our elderly people to eradicate delayed discharge in our hospitals? Broken.
‘She also made a promise to patients about a legal guarantee of treatment within 12 weeks. That, too, has been broken. Now we have before us a tax plan that simply does not add up, and a list of commitments for which the First Minister knows she cannot pay. Who is the First Minister going to fail next?’
Miss Sturgeon quipped, weakly: ‘Maybe one of these days Labour will find someone who is capable of asking a decent question.’
The next question from her own side was presumably not what the First Minister had in mind. Claire Haughey asked her to congratulate Nationalist icon Winnie Ewing on the 50th anniversary of her victory in Hamilton.
The 1967 by-election, Miss Haughey assured the chamber, was ‘the start of modern Scottish politics’, which is quite a claim.
Even John Mason believes the Earth is at least 6,000 years old.
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