Nicola Sturgeon ended First Minister’s Questions this week (report, 05/02/16) by claiming Scottish Labour was an “utter disgrace”. Those who choose to judge others must think carefully about the example they set.
Several times during First Minister’s Questions Ms Sturgeon deliberately misled parliament and Scotland. She repeatedly claimed that everyone in Scotland who earns more than £11,000 would pay more tax as a result of Labour’s plan to raise income tax by 1p to protect vital public services. Whilst this is technically correct, she omitted to mention that those earning £11,000 – £20,000 would actually be better off as a result of the rebate Kezia Dugdale proposed. The First Minister also failed to mention that the estimated 15,000 people who will lose their jobs as a result of her cuts won’t be paying much tax at all.
Ms Sturgeon also used wonky maths to suggest that those on lower incomes would pay a higher amount of tax than somebody like her. Again, this was misleading. The Resolution Foundation, who have said the Labour proposals are progressive and would lessen the impact of austerity, are clear that the “richest will pay significantly more, not only in cash terms but as a percentage of their incomes too”.
On both these points, Nicola Sturgeon is not lying. She is, however, coolly misleading the people of Scotland. As Alex Salmond once said when modestly praising his own talents: “The art of politics is not to lie”.