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Last week Honey McBee highlighted Lesley Riddoch’s Question Time confession that she would vote Yes in 2014 and her subsequent article in the following Monday’s  Scotsman enlarging on her reasons for doing so. Dr Richard Simpson, Labour MSP for Central Scotland and Fife, sent us his thoughts…

“Honey McBee pricks sharply the issues as usual.

The BBCQT programme was watchable. But the challenge from Leslie Riddoch in the programme and in her subsequent article are more interesting. It should be a given that all sides aspire to a Scotland which is comfortable with itself, a bit like the Netherlands in the eighties.

But the nub of the problem is that the SNP has continued to feed we Scots on a rich diet of hand outs even in a time of austerity. But these will only be sustainable with Scandinavian high levels of tax.

The SNP preach equality and fairness and an end to poverty, but give more to the better off in the council tax freeze (so far £1800 to top band and £600 to lowest band households), with free prescriptions, a system desperately in need of reform but only affecting around 15% of better off Scots, abolition of Student Graduate endowment of £2280 which was only paid by fewer than 50% of graduates ( income over £15,000 and no disabled or  mature students), with cuts to poorer student maintenance, to which all these funds were applied.

Free bus travel, introduced by Labour, was originally intended to improve wellbeing and social mobility. But it is used by 20% who are still working. This has led to SNP cuts to bus subsidies resulting in loss of vital public transport to poorer and rural communities.

Overall the UK pays out £5 billion in benefits to those with incomes of over £100,000.

How does the SNP policy for an independent Scotland to compete with RUK in a downward race to lower corporation tax allow ambitions for fairness and social justice to be achieved?

Like Leslie Riddoch, I want more powers to move to a more equal society - all the pro-Unionist parties, even the Conservatives, now agree - but more equal because it will benefit all, the richer as well as the poorer, as writers like Professor Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett cogently argue in the 'Spirit Level', their book on the consequences of inequalities.”