Somewhat echoing the rhetoric of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a conservative lawmaker in Scotland has blasted the Labour Party for creating a welfare-dependency state that bleeds more money from the government than what it puts in.
Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, has claimed that nearly 90 percent of Scots households are currently “living off state's patronage,” according to a report in the Daily Telegraph party.
At a Tory conference on Monday, Davidson cited that only about 283,080 households in Scotland – 12 percent of the total number – pay more in taxes than what they receive in public services from the state. In addition, due to the dominance of the public sector in Scottish life, she said that state spending now represents at least one-half of Scotland’s wealth.
"It is staggering that public sector expenditure makes up a full 50 percent of Scotland's GDP and only 12 percent of households are net contributors, where the taxes they pay outweigh the benefits they receive through public spending,” she thundered.
“The rotten system of patronage, which denies so many people real choices in their lives, has created a corrosive sense of entitlement which suits its political gang masters.”
Referring to the exalted 12 percent who are “responsible for generating Scotland’s wealth,” she rhetorically asked: “I wonder how many of them work on public sector contracts.”
Citing data from the Office for National Statistics, Davidson said that the average Scottish household uses £14,151 more in public services every year than it pays out in taxes. Even middle-income Scots, she noted, consume £20,000 more in state spending than they pay out.
Only Scotland’s wealthy, that is, those who account for the top 10 percent of earners, pay £17,205 more in tax than they receive in public services.
She also alleged that over-dependence on the public trough has created a generation of Scots who are hopelessly loyal to the Labour and Scottish National Party, at the expense of the Tories.
“If the gang master state is the only provider people can see for their housing, education and employment, it’s no surprise those who seek to break the stranglehold find barriers in their way,” she declared.
However, the Telegraph reported that on the whole Scotland paid 9.6 percent of the United Kingdom’s total tax bill, while accounting for only 9.3 percent of British public spending.
In any case, Scottish Nationalists have condemned Richardson, comparing her unfavorably to Romney (who sparked outrage in the U.S. by saying that 47 percent of the American public pays no federal income taxes, therefore he did not seek their support).
“At least Mitt Romney only insulted around half of Americans, while Ruth Davidson believes almost 90 percent of Scots do not 'contribute’ to society,” castigated Kenny Gibson, a Nationalist MSP.
Davidson also spoke out against Scottish Nationalists who favor separation from the United Kingdom (a referendum on the matter is scheduled to be held in 2014).
“The United Kingdom is a family home where all relations are equally welcome,” she said in her speech.
“We have heard talk before about the pain of separation and the effect of divorce, but what we really need to talk about now is what makes the UK a good place to be. Genuinely happy families don't stay together because of the fear of divorce, they stay together instinctively because their relationships work and they can't begin to imagine a life apart.”
Conservatives in Scotland face some mighty obstacles in increasingly their popularity. In the last council election in May of this year, the Tories lost 16 seats, putting their total at 115, versus 394 for Labour and 424 for Scottish Nationalist Party. Only the Liberal Democrats (which lost 80 seats) did worse than the Conservatives.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.