The biggest problem with the Tories isn’t that they’re evil and selfish, although they are most certainly evil and selfish. You only have to look at George Osborne basking in the adulation of the Tory conference to see that. But that’s not the biggest problem with the Tories. The biggest problem with the Tories is that they’re evil, selfish, and transparently manipulative like a cat which has crapped in your shoes and expects you to blame your significant other for it. They’re evil and manipulative and just don’t care, because they know there’s not a great deal we’re able to do about it. And cats are considerably cuter than George Osborne. No one has ever felt the urge to chuck George under the chin, just the urge to chuck him over a cliff.
Sadly – thank you No voters – Scotland is powerless before the evil selfish Tories. Our powerlessness before the Tory onslaught is not solely down to the fact that we’re only a few months after a General Election in which they won a majority in England, it’s also because the Tories also know that in Scotland they have no meaningful support and so can do what they like without suffering any meaningful electoral consequences. David Cameron isn’t going to lose any sleep over the fate of the Tory party in Scotland, because the Tory party in Scotland already makes a shuffling zombie look like a nifty mover. And zombies probably smell more fragrant too.
However this doesn’t stop the party’s Westminster Head Office from giving the corpse of the Scottish Tories the occasional electric shock, in the hope that they can jolt some life into the rotting body. They know however that there’s no real prospect of this ever happening, so instead their interventions in Scotland are designed more to trip up the other parties. This isn’t difficult to achieve with the Labour party in Scotland, it must be said, as tripping up a party which is staggering about blindly is about as simple as David Mundell.
The latest Tory cunning plan involves the party’s favourite fetish – taxation. Despite having historically the same enthusiasm for devolution as a dental patient has for root canal treatment without an anaesthetic, all of a sudden the Tories are falling over themselves to make like the tooth fairy, promising shiny new tax powers in return for a few molars. However the new tax powers which the Tories are hurriedly bringing forward for the Scottish Parliament are new powers in the exact same way that cat crap in your shoes gives you extra height which opens up undreamt of new vistas.
What the Tories are hoping is that they can put pressure on the Scottish Government on income tax, the most visible and noticeable of all the taxes, the tax that directly affects ordinary working people. It is of course income tax that the Tories are proposing to give Holyrood limited powers over, not any of the other taxes which together raise 80% of a government’s revenues. Income tax is the most taxy of the taxes, it’s the one that directly has an impact in the pocket of working people in a way that other taxes do not. Income tax is the tax that the voters notice, and that’s why the Tories and Labour are prepared to devolve some control of it.
Combined with the package of tax responsibilities are equally limited powers over social security – powers which can only be exercised with the permission of David Mundell. These powers will give the Scottish government the ability to make up the difference to low paid workers whose tax credits have been slashed by the Westminster Tories. But the Scottish government will only be able to do so if it slashes public services or it increases the most taxy tax. It’s going to be the ordinary working people of Scotland who will pay twice for the cost of Tory economic slash and burning – and the cunning cat crap plan is to force the Scottish government to take responsibility for the Tories slashing tax credits for low paid workers with families.
Oh look, purrs Fluffy Mundell like the cat that’s crapped in your shoes, the Scottish Government has the power to raise income tax in order to compensate low paid Scottish workers for the cuts to their tax credits imposed by George Osborne. The political heat for the cuts to the income of low paid workers in then transferred from the people who impose the cuts, to a parliament which is not actually responsible for them. The Tories hope that the focus will be on the people with the bandages and plasters, and not on the basterts with the chainsaw who’ve just cut the support off from beneath the poor and the vulnerable. In this they will no doubt be assisted by a Scottish media that’s more interested in screaming SNPbaaaad than in holding Westminster to account.
The thing about traps is that they’re supposed to be well camouflaged, hidden deep in the woods and covered with branches where they can be cunningly sprung on their unsuspecting victims. This Tory trap is lit up in sparkly lights and sits under a neon sign that flashes TORY TAX TRAP in dayglo red white and blue while Fluffy Mundell poses on top of it wearing a Union Jack thong and a come hither smile. It won’t work, and not only because Fluffy is to honey traps and sexual allure as his boss is to porcine welfare. It won’t work because it rests upon the voters of Scotland not remembering that we have a Tory government which is engaged in slashing and burning the incomes of the poorest paid while it enriches the better off. It won’t work because it depends on the Scottish government not realising it’s a trap. And it won’t work because it depends on the people of Scotland having heads that button up the back.
Once again it’s Scotland that loses out as Westminster uses devolution as a means to play party political games. The Tories are hoping that their cunning taxy tax wheeze will mean Ruth Davidson can call a taxi for Kezia Dugdale and overtake Labour as the second party in Scottish politics. Ruth’s going to go into the next Holyrood election calling for tax cuts, while Labour’s going to demand that there’s a tax rise for the tiny number of people with high incomes. As they jostle for the runner up prize, it’s the chances of Scotland remaining in their precious Union that will get squeezed.
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