First Minister Slams Labour In Income Tax Row

4 February 2016, 13:54 | Updated: 4 February 2016, 13:58

Nicola Sturgeon has hit back at claims she "sold out'' Scots by failing to back plans to increase income tax north of the border by 1p.

Labour wants to make Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK, arguing the rise in income tax it is proposing would raise almost £500 million for education and local services.

On Wednesday, SNP and Tory MSPs voted together at Holyrood to block a budget amendment that would have brought that in.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said that meant Ms Sturgeon who "sold herself as the radical alternative to Tory austerity'' had instead "sold out the people who needed her the most''.

She raised the issue at First Minister's Questions, recalling that in the run-up to last year's general election the SNP leader had ``built her celebrity on being the anti-austerity alternative''.

Ms Dugdale claimed her rival was "now leading the attack on the only alternative to austerity'' - the 1p increase in income tax in Scotland proposed by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

During angry clashes at Holyrood, Ms Dugdale told MSPs: "Last night the First Minister voted against Labour's plans to use the powers of this parliament to stop cuts to education and to vital local public services.

"The SNP and the Tories stood shoulder to should to impose hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts on schools and communities.

"It goes against everything the First Minister has ever told us that she stands for.''

She added: "Faced with the choice between using the powers of this parliament and hundreds of millions of pounds worth of cuts, why did the First Minister choose austerity?''

Ms Sturgeon branded Labour an "utter disgrace'' and said she would leave it to Ms Dugdale and her party to "defend why low-paid workers in this country should pay Labour's extra tax''.

The First Minister argued the SNP had "voted against a proposal that would have seen every single person in Scotland earning above £11,000 a year pay more tax''.

She added: "Tax rises on the lowest-paid in our society is not standing up to Tory austerity - it is transferring the burden of Tory austerity on the shoulders of those who can least afford it.''