The fallout from Chancellor George Osborne’s budget and the subsequent resignation of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith has been felt in the Borders.
While Conservative MSP John Lamont welcomed the raising of tax-free personal allowance by £500 to £11,500 next year, SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse asked him which side of the Tory party civil war he was on - the cavaliers or the roundheads.
Mr Lamont said: “The tax cuts unveiled by the Chancellor will benefit every single worker in the Borders and it is absolutely the right thing to do as wages have struggled to keep up with inflation.
“With tax powers coming to Holyrood, the SNP now has to decide whether or not to follow suit and hand these tax cuts to people here too.
“Because of the broad shoulders of the United Kingdom, the Chancellor has been able to continue to bring the deficit down, while at the same time provide a tax cut for 2.6 million working Scots, a freeze of key taxes covering fuel and whisky and a £1.3bn support package for North Sea oil.”
SNP South of Scotland MSP, and candidate for the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire seat in the May Scottish Parliament elections, Paul Wheelhouse said the Tory party “civil war” renders them “unfit even for opposition in the next Scottish Parliament”.
Paul challenged Tory opponent John Lamont to tell the electorate on “whether he is a modern day ‘Cavalier’, supporting David Cameron, George Osborne and their courtiers on devastating welfare cuts or a ‘Roundhead’, backing Tory rebels concerned about the impact of draconian cuts on vulnerable people.
He said: “The Tories are blind to the misery that their dismantling of the welfare state is doing to the disabled and the most vulnerable members of society, and in doing so they are attacking and potentially dismantling one of the finest legacies of the post-war era, alongside the NHS - I’m sure I am not alone in being very grateful that our NHS is protected from the privatisation agenda in England, because we have an SNP Scottish Government. The cat is well and truly out of the bag. Mr Lamont’s party is a hopelessly divided one.”