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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 March, 2004, 14:24 GMT
Alliance holding back axe on tax
John Swinney
John Swinney claims there is a new dividing line in Scottish politics
Scottish National Party leader John Swinney claims the Tories and Labour parties have formed an alliance to protect the council tax.

Mr Swinney told his party's National Council in Stirling the two parties had formed a new "dividing line" in Scottish politics with their stance.

He said on the big issues, such as council tax, they stood on the same side and were holding back Scotland.

On Friday, the SNP launched its "axe the tax" campaign to scrap council tax.

Political divide

Mr Swinney said the council tax debate opened up by his party unveiled wider implications about the current state of Scottish politics.

He claimed it was an illustration of a fundamental rift in the political scene with his side fighting to restore power to Scotland and the other battling to keep powers in London.

He said: "You couldn't put a fag paper between Jack McConnell and David McLetchie.

You couldn't put a fag paper between Jack McConnell and David McLetchie
John Swinney

"Because on the big issues facing our country they are on the same side.

"On the illegal war in Iraq - Tories and Labour on the same side.

"On PFI - Tories and Labour on the same side.

"On asylum - Tories and Labour on the same side.

"And on council tax - Tories and Labour on the same side.

"Theirs is the new alliance in Scottish politics. Holding Scotland back, obsessed with London control."

Picking sides

He then hit out at the Liberal Democrats and their leader Jim Wallace asking whether they would join his call to "axe the tax".

"We will harry the Lib Dems until the people have their answer," vowed Mr Swinney.

"And if they side against fairness, we will expose them in every constituency in Scotland.

"The people of Scotland want the council tax abolished and the parliament of Scotland should do the job the people elected it to do.

"No reviews, no task-forces, no inquiries. Let's get the job done - let's axe the tax."

Income tax

The Nationalists have proposed the introduction of a new local income tax to replace the existing council tax

They claim the new surcharge would cut bills for hundreds of thousands of taxpayers leaving 400,000 of the country's top earners to pay extra.

While the Scottish Socialist Party is planning to give MSPs the chance to vote on whether the current system should be scrapped.

National convener Tommy Sheridan will lead the debate on Thursday when his party will use its parliamentary time at Holyrood to launch a vote on the issue.

BBC Scotland's Brian Taylor
"The executive is reviewing how we pay for local services"

SNP unveils 'axe the tax' plan
05 Mar 04  |  Scotland
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23 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Council tax wait comes to an end
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Most Scots 'oppose' council tax
15 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Scotland's new council tax bills
12 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Council tax rises are unveiled
12 Feb 04  |  Scotland

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