by Rona Mackay
The SNP have published a new leaflet calling on the UK Government to “rethink” the threat to offshore jobs and investment posed by the Chancellor’s Budget tax hike on the North Sea’s oil and gas sector.
One hundred thousand copies of the new leaflet have been distributed in Aberdeen and across the North East of Scotland.
The announcement follows widespread anger after Tory Chancellor George Osborne announced the tax hike in his last budget. The proposal, aimed at raising an extra £2 billion for the UK Treasury, was codemned by industry figures who claimed it would threaten investment and jobs.
First Minister Alex Salmond said that an SNP victory in the Scottish Parliament election will force the Tory/Lib Dem coalition to reconsider their damaging proposals, which he called a “smash and grab raid on Scottish resources.”
Mr Salmond said: “The UK Government’s disgraceful and unthinking treatment of one of Scotland’s great industries has emerged as a vital issue – and an SNP election victory on 5 May will force the Tory/Lib Dem UK coalition to reconsider their damaging proposals, which threaten offshore jobs and investment.
“In the coming year, oil and gas revenues are due to be an all-time record of £13.4 billion – nearly £2,700 for every man, woman and child in Scotland – and £4 billion more than the Chancellor had planned for.
“The people of Aberdeen, the North East and across Scotland can reject the UK Treasury’s smash and grab raid on Scottish resources, and defend jobs and investment, by re-electing the SNP Government. When the SNP brought the issue to the vote in the House of Commons, Labour sat on their hands.”
The plan has caused open dissent amongst some Scottish Lib Dems figures, however Lib Dem secretary of State Michael Moore claimed the move had “shot the nationalist fox” and Treasury colleague Danny Alexander is reported to have boasted that the tax raid was his idea.
Mr Salmond claimed the move was proof that Scotland needed control over her own respources and added:
“The tax changes dreamed up by the Lib Dems’ Danny Alexander are totally ill-thought through and run the clear risk of diverting investment away from the North Sea. There is nothing wrong with making taxation responsive to profitability and high oil prices, however it has to be done in a planned fashion with appropriate incentives for marginal fields and infrastructure development.
“This entire episode underlines the need for the Scottish Parliament to gain responsibility for North Sea revenues, for the long-term benefit of the Scottish economy, our public services and society.”