Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 1st February 2018.

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The First Minister:

I will tell Ruth Davidson something about waste—the waste of space that is the Tory party in this chamber. No matter how seriously Ruth Davidson wags her finger at me, she cannot escape the question about where the axe would fall from the £556 million of cuts that would have to be made to the health service, the education system, business support or infrastructure if we were to follow the Tory plans to cut taxes for the very richest in our society. That might be the Tory way; it is not the way of this progressive Scottish Government.

On the issue of the impact on our economy, unfortunately for Ruth Davidson, the evidence does not bear out what she says. The Scottish Fiscal Commission has to do forecasts for our budget and assess the policies that we put forward. In the report that it published accompanying the draft budget, the commission said that our tax policies would have no impact on the economy in the way that Ruth Davidson and the Tories suggest. Let us cut to the chase: the Scottish Government has put forward fair and progressive tax policies that will allow us to protect our public services, reverse Tory cuts and support our businesses, while the Tories want us to cut taxes for the very wealthiest in our society. So, yes, that is a difference between the Government and the Tories. Of course, we know from polling evidence that the majority of people in Scotland are on the side of the Government.