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Swinney accuses Labour and Tories of ‘concealing’ cuts

SNP leader John Swinney has accused Labour and Tory parties of “concealing” cuts plans amid a “conspiracy of silence” on economic policy.

The First Minister, who presided over swingeing cuts to public service budgets leading to more than 20,000 jobs lost from Scotland’s public sector during his nine-year tenure as finance secretary, used a campaign speech in Glasgow today to take aim at the spending plans of both parties.

Referring to a recent report by the economic think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which not only claimed that Labour and Tory spending plans could lead to “sharp” cuts after the election, but argued the parties were “avoiding the reality” of the situation, Mr Swinney said the economy would be the “defining issue of the election.”

He said: “After 14 years of Westminster cuts, our public services cannot take any more.

“As the election gets closer, it is becoming clear that Labour and the Tories are concealing the true effects of their approach to fiscal policy from the public.

“They are concealing the huge budget cuts that will be involved.

“The Tories are more interested in cutting taxes for the rich, while quietly abandoning public services to their fate.

“Meanwhile, Labour are dancing to the Tory tune — terrified of doing anything other than matching Conservative tax plans while trying to sound just as tough on spending and borrowing.

“As the Institute for Fiscal Studies have warned, both Labour and the Tories are engaged in a conspiracy of silence about the true scale of tax and spending choices.”

Reminding the First Minister that his government will be returning hundred of millions in unspent EU funding this year, Scottish Labour’s Dame Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP is lifting straight from the Tory playbook and spouting desperate nonsense about Labour’s plans.

“Labour has been clear that we will end austerity and deliver a badly needed boost to public services, and we will do it in a way that keeps down in inflation and interest rates to help household finances.

“The SNP has taken Tory austerity and amplified it with years of mismanagement and waste — from handing back up to £450 million of EU funding to wasting £5 billion of public money.

“Only a Labour government can put an end to Tory austerity and deliver the change Scotland needs — at this election we need to make sure we do that.”

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