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12 April 2016
Patrick Harvie: SNP would need to offer 'progressive' tax policy to get support of Greens in coalition

Patrick Harvie: SNP would need to offer 'progressive' tax policy to get support of Greens in coalition

Patrick Harvie has warned the SNP would need to overhaul their tax plans if they wanted to obtain support from the Greens in the event of falling short of a majority.

The Scottish Greens co-convener said it is “inconceivable” tax policy would not top their demands should Nicola Sturgeon’s party require a coalition after the Holyrood election.

Harvie was speaking as the Greens, who have been predicted to increase their number at Holyrood four-fold on May 5, launched their manifesto in Edinburgh.

Under the party’s plans the current basic income tax rate of 20 per cent would be replaced by two bands - 18 per cent for the first £7,500 of income above the personal allowance and 22 per cent for income above £19,000. Income above £43,000 would be taxed at 43 per cent and income above £150,000 at 60 per cent.

Harvie has been highly critical of the SNP’s tax proposals after the First Minister vowed to freeze Scotland’s income tax rates and reject the UK Government’s move to lift the 40 per cent threshold.

Polls continue to show the SNP on track for a second successive majority government, though latest YouGov research suggests the Greens could increase their rump at Holyrood from two to eight MSPs.

Asked what the party would demand of the SNP if coalition negotiations were to take place after May 5, Harvie said: “Perhaps one of the threads running through all of this document is the need for investment in the future of our economy but also to protect the public services that are under huge threat.

“I think it’s inconceivable that we wouldn’t see agenda item one in that meeting being about tax policy: how do we raise the revenue that is needed for investment in public priorities and in public services that the country so desperately needs.

“This can be done progressively so that people like MSPs, people wealthy enough, are paying a bit more, and genuinely leaving those at the bottom end of the income spectrum more protected with a lower tax bill at the end of the day.

“Frankly, I am slightly astonished that the SNP do seem to have walked away from the space to debate progressive tax policy and I think that there are many in the SNP who actually might welcome a little constructive pressure for that progressive approach, rather than leaving them vulnerable to pressure from the right if the Conservatives are the only ones bringing momentum into the Scottish Parliament.

“Anyone who recognises the SNP might be in power again should be thinking about who is putting pressure on them, from which direction, and if you want a progressive Scotland we’re going to need to address the failure of the current Scottish Government to offer a progressive tax policy.”

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