LABOUR is proposing to slap a one-off £11 billion pound windfall tax on the North Sea oil and gas industry to help pay for its “green industrial revolution”.
Jeremy Corbyn - launching his party’s election manifesto in the atrium of Birmingham City University - promised a £100bn public investment over 10 years to “transform Scotland”.
And while he insisted it was “absolutely not” his party’s priority to have another referendum on independence, the 105-page document kept open the door to a Labour Government facilitating such a poll.
The party leader described his prospectus for power as the “most radical and ambitious plan to transform our country in decades”.
He said: “We will invest £100bn in Scotland all together; in capital investment and Barnett Formula consequentials. And it will bring about a transformation in Scotland.”
But the Tories said Labour’s plan would “sell out Scotland’s oil and gas industry” and threaten more than 100,000 jobs. Boris Johnson claimed the Labour proposals lacked “economic credibility”.
The Opposition’s manifesto presented an ambitious programme to invest in public services, tackle climate change and re-nationalise key utilities.
Mr Corbyn said: “In an election offering a once-in-a-generation chance of real change, we can: end privatisation and rescue our NHS; we can get Brexit sorted and bring our country together; we can tackle the climate emergency that threatens us all.
“And we can rewrite the rules of our economy to work for the many, not the few."
The Labour leader, promising an “investment blitz,” explained that his government would “go after the tax dodgers, the bad bosses and the big polluters” and stressed: “That's why they throw everything they've got at us because they're scared of real change because they aren't on your side."
The manifesto said that a Labour government would "re-write the rules of the economy" by taxing "those at the top" to properly fund public services.
Taxes would rise £83bn a year with most falling on big business and rich individuals.
Among the hikes would be £14bn from changes to capital gains tax, £6bn from a hike in corporation tax, £9bn from the financial transactions tax and £5bn by reversing recent cuts to inheritance tax, putting VAT on private schools, introducing a second homes tax and abolishing the married person’s tax allowance.
It set out a plan to reverse cuts to public sector pay with above-inflation pay rises year-on-year, paid for by an increase in taxes for those earning more than £80,000 while freezing rates for everyone else.
It pledged to embark on a council and social housing "revolution" south of the border by constructing up to 150,000 homes a year, representing the biggest house-building programme in decades.
On Brexit, the party said it would give the people the “final say” in a referendum with the choice between a new deal brokered with Brussels and staying in the EU. The Labour Government would, the manifesto made clear, “implement whatever the people decide”.
The manifesto fell short of agreeing to freedom of movement regardless of whether the UK stayed in the EU but, rather, pointed to the creation of a "humane immigration system".
On climate change, the election document stopped short of a commitment to make the economy carbon neutral by 2030 - as the party conference called for – but, rather, promised a "green new deal," which would aim to achieve "the substantial majority of our emissions" reductions by 2030.
The manifesto also referred to the introduction of a “windfall tax on oil companies, so that the companies that knowingly damaged our climate will help cover the costs”.
Labour estimated that what it called the “just transition fund” could raise about £11bn after looking at schemes in Germany and Spain with some of the money going on retraining energy workers for green jobs.
Pressed, after the launch, on whether this was a tax on Aberdeen, John McDonnell replied: “No, it’s a tax for Aberdeen because all that money will go on investing in the jobs that people need in the just transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
“It will be the biggest investment Scotland has seen in generations, £100bn and more; all for the Scottish people to make sure their economy will thrive,” added the Shadow Chancellor.
But Colin Clark, the Scotland Office Minister, said it was now clear Mr Corbyn, through his “tax-grab,” was prepared to “sacrifice jobs north of the border”.
Pointing out how the oil and gas industry sustained 120,000 jobs in Scotland and 270,000 across the whole UK, the candidate for Gordon declared: “Labour’s windfall tax would threaten more than 100,000 jobs in Scotland, many of which are based in and around Aberdeen.”
Labour’s plans include:
*bringing back rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership and delivering full-fibre broadband free to everyone in the country;
*introducing a "real living wage" of at least £10-an-hour while, boosting public sector pay by five percent, ending zero hours contracts and strengthening trade union rights;
*creating a national education service in England to provide through-life learning and scrapping university tuition fees;
*providing, south of the border, 30 hours of free childcare to all pre-school aged youngsters and has guaranteed a Sure Start centre in every community;
*scrapping Universal Credit, the two-child limit for benefits and the welfare cap;
*giving additional £26bn a year in NHS funding;
*reversing cuts in policing and recruiting 22,000 more police officers - 2,000 more than the Tories;
*building 150,000 homes a year in England with 100,000 of them built by local councils;
*establishing a royal commission to look at de-criminalising drugs;
*raising corporation tax to 21 per cent from April 2020, 24 per cent from April 2021 and 26 per cent from April 2022 – which critics denounced as a “war on business” and
*freezing the state pension age at 66 – it is due to increase to 67 between 2026 and 2028.
During the manifesto launch, Mr Corbyn issued a staunch defence when asked about those who did not believe he was patriotic.
"Yes, I do support this country. I am patriotic about this country. I'm patriotic about all people in this country. That means patriotism is about caring for the entire society.
"Patriotism is about supporting each other, not attacking somebody else," he declared.