Nicola Sturgeon has introduced measures to bring down the “blight of inequality” in Scotland.
Sturgeon, who will be standing as leader of the SNP in May’s general election, introduced a program of legislation which is starkly different to that of her predecessor, Alex Salmond.
Salmond had before pledged a decrease in corporation tax three per cent lower than the rate in the UK. However, Sturgeon told The Scotsman that the SNP now “targeted changes in tax allowances” and rejected the “blanket approach” of decreasing corporation tax.
As well as withdrawing the statement on corporation tax, Sturgeon promised the creation of a Scottish Business Development Bank, which would give out loans to medium sized companies throughout Scotland.
She said that an increase in Scotland’s total output could lead to 11,000 new jobs being available after ten years.
Speaking to The Student, Professor Nicola McEwen, Associate Director of the ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change at the University of Edinburgh said that Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP were defining themselves as “unambiguously social democratic”, with an overall “change of emphasis” from previous governments.
“Alex Salmond’s administration favoured universal public service provision and low taxation – a difficult and seemingly contradictory agenda. Since taking office, the new First Minister has been keen to place added stress on tackling inequality and economic disadvantage as an integral part of a strategy for economic growth and productivity.”
Sturgeon said last month that inequality had made the UK £100 billion worse off from 1990 to 2010.
She said that Scotland had a “strong international reputation, great natural resources, and the most highly educated workforce in Europe”.
The pledges by Sturgeon faced huge criticism by opposing political parties. The finance spokeswoman for Labour, Jackie Baillie, said that Sturgeon was right to focus on tackling inequality, but that her plans lack “redistributive policy commitments, like Labour’s proposal for the reintroduction of the 50p top rate of tax”.
In the build-up to the general election, Sturgeon has been touted as a potential “kingmaker.”
In an interview with The Guardian, she said that a coalition with the Labour Party was unlikely, since they had just agreed to a further £30 billion in cuts.
The SNP has presented a program of anti-austerity, which the interviewer said related the party to Syriza, the far-left Greek party who recently came to power.
She said these were damaging to infrastructure and skills, both of which the SNP wanted to invest in.
She also rejected any idea of a compromise on the Trident nuclear weapons system, stating that the SNP would not vote for their renewal under any circumstances.