Lib Dems to back SNP on local income tax?

by Stephen Tall on August 8, 2008

The Scotsman reports that the Lib Dems are going to come to the rescue of the SNP to ensure that the council tax is replaced by a local income tax in Scotland:

SNP ministers are prepared to do a deal with the Liberal Democrats which could see every council in Scotland set its own income tax rate, it emerged yesterday. The Scottish Government wants to introduce a nationally-set local income tax of 3p in the pound to replace the council tax, but its proposals have come in for heavy and sustained criticism since their publication earlier this year.

Business groups, councils, some unions, student groups and opposition politicians have all railed against the proposals, championed by John Swinney, the finance secretary, claiming that they will not raise enough money and will damage the economy. However, it is now understood that ministers are prepared to change their plans to secure the parliamentary backing they need.

As the SNP is running the Scottish Government as a minority administration, it needs the support of one of the other main parties to get its plans through. The Lib Dems support the principle of a local income tax, but are adamant that it must be set locally, by individual councils, rather than by the Scottish Government at 3p in the pound.

All three contenders for the leadership of the Scottish Lib Dems confirmed yesterday that this remained their position, and all insisted that they would not compromise on the principle of a “local” income tax. …

And in case you were wondering how this story might relate to yesterday’s suggestions that Vince Cable is looking to reform the Lib Desm’ policy on council tax in England, the Scotsman explains:

… even if Mr Cable did manage to change party policy in England, it would not alter the position of the party in Scotland.

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Good. Then we can see how well LIT works. And while we’re about it, why don’t we just get into government with the SNP instead of kicking about on the sidelines?

by Laurence Boyce on August 8, 2008 at 3:28 pm. Reply #

I agree – let’s use this as an opportunity to actually put one of our policy proposals into practice.

by Grammar Police on August 8, 2008 at 3:31 pm. Reply #

While the SNP’s conversion to our position is welcome, if true, there’s still the difficulty that the SNP and Lib Dems together do not have a majority at Holyrood, so it still needs at least one other party (maybe the Greens?) to at least abstain for LIT to go through.

by Bernard Salmon on August 8, 2008 at 3:32 pm. Reply #

Grammar Police what do you mean one? We put several into practice from 1999-2007 up her in Scotland.

by Stephen Glenn on August 8, 2008 at 3:37 pm. Reply #

Also I may never hat tip Stephen Tall again looking at the timing of this post and the traffic to my site since I posted on this. 😉

by Stephen Glenn on August 8, 2008 at 3:38 pm. Reply #

We should learn from the criticism of the SNP’s proposals. This is one of the more daft of our policies.

by Bruce Nelson on August 8, 2008 at 10:20 pm. Reply #

Of course, Stephen, you are correct about the period when we were in Government in Scotland, when we certainly made the administration more liberal.

I meant that I think we should use this opportunity of potential agreement with the SNP to implement a distinctive policy – as opposed to opposition for opposition’s sake . . .

by Grammar Police on August 8, 2008 at 10:41 pm. Reply #

We should be governing with the SNP in Scotland since they’re largely sensible, we ought not to be opposed ultimately to self-determination for small nations, it’d slay the myth that we’re Labour’s little brother and it might do so some good there.

We shouldn’t, however, do it just to inflict LIT on the folk there.

by john on August 9, 2008 at 1:30 am. Reply #

This could backfire, be careful. The Tories had already alienated Scotland but then gave them the deeply unpopular poll tax a year before the rest of the UK. Bad move.

when I see people saying, to all intents and purposes, try it out up there first to see how it works then my heart sinks.

by Jay Entee on August 9, 2008 at 8:29 am. Reply #

I am delighted at this news. I think it is crazy if we cannot replace the council tax. If the policy is a success, then we should campaign for it at the general election as a top priority.
If it fails, then Vince’s caution is vindicated.

by Geoffrey Payne on August 10, 2008 at 7:14 pm. Reply #

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