Is it enough to stem the tide? 

While Humza Yousaf tried to use yesterday’s Programme for Government to reset his leadership, Scotland’s opposition parties tried to use it to stake out new lines of attack on his administration. First among their areas of focus is economic growth, which both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour believe is a significant blackspot on the SNP government’s record.

This strategy was revealed even before the Programme for Government was announced. Just last week the Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross launched a well-received plan for growth. Only days later Scottish Labour Party leader Anas Sarwar followed suit, announcing a new expert advisory panel to inform his economic policy, as well as – crucially — a presumption against further income tax rises. As both Ross and Sarwar set out their pro-growth stalls, they also highlighted research for True North by Survation, which suggested people in Scotland no longer feel they get value for money from public services, despite the highest income tax burden in the UK.

While such a move may be expected from the Scottish Conservative Party – indeed, reducing income tax in Scotland has been their long-standing position – it is a significant change for the Scottish Labour Party.

Sarwar is attempting to outflank the SNP from the centre by winning over middle-class Scots currently disgruntled at the state of public services and perhaps more conscious of tax bills due to cost-of-living pressures. Of course, there is little detail yet on what, if anything, Scottish Labour would sacrifice to keep tax bills down, but one of the luxuries of opposition is being able to avoid such awkward decisions.

But while a significant change, Scottish Labour’s stance should not come as a great surprise. Not only is it good politics to oppose further tax rises, it also fits with the UK party’s wider direction. As Sir Keir Starmer’s latest reshuffle at Westminster showed, the political heirs of Tony Blair are once again in the ascendency. It is therefore thoroughly in keeping that the Scottish party is slowly reverting to an unapologetically pro-growth, pro-business agenda once again as well.

Andrew Liddle

Andrew Liddle

Senior Advisor

Keep in touch

Sign up to our newsletter.

"*" indicates required fields

Insights & news

POLL: 75% of Scots back North Sea oil and gas 
Three-quarters of Scots support domestic oil and gas production from the North Sea, according to new polling released today by True North. Less than a month out from the general election, the data shows 75% would rather see the UK meet its energy demands from domestic sources than import from overseas. The Scotland-wide polling, carried out by Survation, comes as the sector takes centre-stage in the ongoing election campaign, while the UK’s energy production hits the lowest level on record since 1948. By a factor of 4 to 1, people see energy companies operating in the North Sea as an economic force for good, according to the polling. That’s despite news of one of Scotland’s largest new oil projects, Buchan in the Moray Firth, has had its production pushed back by a year due to general election uncertainty.
Read more
  • Insight & Analytics
  • Oil & Gas
  • Polling
  • Uncategorized
BALANCE TIPS IN LABOUR’S FAVOUR AMONG SCOTTISH VOTERS
Labour lead the pack among voters in Scotland with little over five weeks until the country goes to the polls, according to new figures published today by True North. 36% of Scots are set to back Labour in a Westminster vote, with the party continuing to extend its lead in Scotland. The SNP could expect to win a 32% share of the vote — six points down on where they stood just two months ago. The survey, conducted by Survation between 23 and 27 May, shows Conservative and Liberal Democrat support largely unchanged at 17% and 9%. These figures demonstrate that “Labour now have a clear lead in Westminster vote intentions for the first time since the 2014 independence referendum”, according to polling expert Prof Sir John Curtice. On these figures the SNP would suffer considerable losses across central belt Scotland, reduced to a group of just 16 MPs. Labour would return the largest number of MPs from north of the border, with 28 candidates elected. The Conservatives meanwhile are projected to return eight MPs, with the Lib Dems sweeping up the remaining five seats out of a total of 57...
Read more
  • Insight & Analytics
  • Political Analysis
  • Polling
  • Uncategorized
North East’s first roundtable with First Minister
Geoff recently chaired and moderated a roundtable discussion in Aberdeen with First Minister John Swinney at Energy Transition Zone Ltd’s W-Zero-1 building on the importance of the North East of Scotland’s role in driving sustainable economic growth for the regional and wider Scottish and U.K economies. The roundtable included senior business leaders representing the region’s Life Sciences, Digital, Energy, Academic, Cultural, Food, Drink & Agriculture sectors as the First Minister made his first visit to the City since taking office. Attendees had the opportunity to raise both the opportunities and challenges their respective organisation’s face and all were steadfast in their long term commitment to contribute to the region’s continued success...
Read more
  • Insight & Analytics
  • Oil & Gas