Alex Johnhstone MSP
Candidate for Angus North & Mearns
The SNP are not having an easy time of it just now. To lose one MP amid murky claims is unfortunate. To lose two is just plain careless.
On top of this, collapsing oil prices, the very basis of their independence arguments have left their economic credibility in tatters. The education attainment gap widens and NHS services continue to be under threat. If we had voted yes, we would have been just months away from an independent Scotland that was an economic basket case.
In contrast, Chancellor George Osborne delivered an economic statement that highlighted the yawning chasm between the sound economic strategy of the Conservatives and the populist economic illiteracy of the SNP.
Having already taken the difficult decisions to live within our means and bring our debts down, the public spending plans set out mean that we will reach a surplus of £10.1 billion in 2019/20 – that’s higher than was forecast at the Budget and means Britain will be out of the red and into the black.
The Chancellor is also protecting our national security, by defending our country’s interests abroad and keeping our citizens safe at home. Our commitment to spend 2 per cent of our national income on defence underlines our continued role on the world stage.
We will now see the biggest real terms increase to the basic State Pension in 15 years. Thanks to our commitment to the triple lock, next year the basic state pension will rise by £3.35 to £119.30 a week.
While at Holyrood, the SNP changes the goal posts to mask its missed housebuilding targets, at Westminster we see the biggest housebuilding programme by any government since the 1970s with a doubling of the housing budget to over £2 billion a year. Our bold plan to back families who aspire to buy their own home will deliver 400,000 new homes by the end of the decade.
Better still, this budget will see a 14% increase in the capital budget for Scotland, and we will see whether the SNP squander yet another opportunity, or follow the lead of the Conservatives and get our economy moving again.
The contrast between a Conservative government, delivering a sustainable economy that inspires the confidence of investors both at home and abroad, and an SNP government at Holyrood which hides its failures behind a mask of grievance and envy could not be greater.
We in Scotland face considerable challenges, but the Scottish Conservative group of MSPs at Holyrood, ably led by Ruth Davidson to hold the SNP to account at every opportunity.
As we approach the end of another busy and eventful year, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.