Scotland’s deputy first minister has branded the Conservatives a “bunch of reckless hypocrites” as he condemned the “harsh fiscal constraints of devolution”.
John Swinney addressed the SNP conference in Aberdeen on Sunday, where he told delegates that “perhaps the most predictable, if depressing” action following the UK mini-budget announcement was the “chorus of calls from the Scottish Conservatives, urging me to match the UK Government’s reckless tax cuts”.
He said: “The Tories at Westminster had set fire to the UK economy and their counterparts in Scotland were asking me to pour petrol on the flames.
“And of course, at the same time as demanding we cut tax, the Tories constantly demand we spend more money.
“If you didn’t know already, let me tell you this: the Tories really are a bunch of reckless hypocrites.”
He went on: “We should make no apology for believing in and delivering fiscal responsibility and we should take no lessons on the subject from the Conservatives.
“Because fiscal responsibility pays for our National Health Service. Fiscal responsibility pays for our children’s education.
“It pays for the game-changing Scottish Child Payment, lifting children out of poverty and available only here in Scotland.”
The deputy first minister told the conference that during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, he held conversations with people who reported feeling “they had financial security within the United Kingdom”.
“After the events of the last few weeks, how can that any longer be the case?” he asked.
“How can any politician look a pensioner, or a mortgage holder, or a person living in poverty, straight in the eye after the wreckage of the last few weeks and say there is financial security any longer in the United Kingdom?
“Our task is to engage with those people, with those who we could not win over in 2014 to explain our beliefs and our values, to share with their hopes for our country, and to help them believe that Scotland can join the nations of the world and play our rightful part in an atmosphere of mutual respect, of trust and financial security.”