Anas Sarwar dubs John Swinney 'architect of austerity' in tense general election debate

Anas Sarwar and John Swinney have clashed in a fiery general election debate.

The Scottish Labour leader dubbed the First Minister "the architect of austerity in Scotland" during the cross-section part of the STV leadership debate.

Swinney also accused Labour of copying Margaret Thatcher with its windfall tax on the oil and gas sector.

Swinney was finance secretary for nine years under Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

Labour want to tax the profits of oil and gas giants but the SNP has said it will decimate the north-east of Scotland.

When Swinney put it to him that Labour's current tax and spending plans would mean continued austerity, Sarwar said: "Not at all John. You are the architect of austerity in Scotland, particularly around local government.

"We have already committed more money to our public services. I've already set out how we will get more capital investment."

Swinney then accused him of having "totally rewritten Labour's financial strategy."

But Sarwar hit back: "We have said that we would not borrow for day-to-day spending. But we would look at borrowing for capital investment because that's how we grow our economy.

"I would think as a former finance secretary you would understand that."

The pair also clashed on oil and gas.

Sarwar: "We would do a windfall tax on the oil and gas giants to make sure we're putting more money into people's pockets, to lower their bills, as well as investing in the clean energy of the future."

He continued: "(A windfall tax) is going to raise billions of pounds of investment, around three billion a year, and that's going to mean more money in people's pockets in the short term."

Swinney put it to him that it would cost 100,000 jobs.

But Sarwar replied: "I can understand why after 14 years of broken promises from the Conservatives, and 17 years of broken promises from the SNP, why people are sceptical about what will happen in the north east.

"But let me be really clear, because it's important for me to give this reassurance.

"There will no cliff edge, there will be no turning off of the tap, oil and gas will play a significant role for decades to come, and that's not just to protect jobs right now."

Swinney hit back: "The problem with what Anas has set-out, is there a very direct damage going to be done to the oil and gas sector as a consequence of the tax plans he's put forward, and the Conservatives have put into place."

But Sarwar pressed him: "So you don't support a windfall tax?"

Swinney continued: "The danger of your position, Anas, is that is going to lead to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the north east of Scotland. That I'm afraid, is a price not worth paying.

"That's what Mrs Thatcher did to the industrial... what Mrs Thatcher did when she was in power, was she created an industrial wasteland in central Scotland, and we're still picking up the pieces.

"The danger of your stance is you are going to do exactly the same to the north east of Scotland."

Sarwar: "Just to make this clear - you support higher taxes for people earning £29,000 a year in Scotland, for example nurses, but not windfall taxes on the oil and gas giants making record profits.

"You're really on the side of BP and Shell, not nurses and working people across the country in the middle of a cost of living crisis?"

Swinney: "I really don't think you're in a strong position to say this Anas, when you're in favour of lifting the cap on bankers' bonuses, you've not got a leg to stand on."

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