Tories, Labour and Lib Dems accused of being 'supermarket parties'

Tories, Labour and Lib Dems accused of being 'supermarket parties'

By staff writers
3 Feb 2011

Greens in Scotland have criticised the vote by Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MSPs to block a proposed tax on large retailers.

They say it confirms that all three parties will vote in line with the interests of the companies who fund them.

The tax itself would have raised just £30 million, less than a fortieth of the Tories' reduction in the Scottish Block Grant, and not enough to offset any significant proportion of the cuts. But it would have been a start, proponents say.

The tax was put forward by the Scottish National Party (SNP), which holds governing power with a minority administration.

Most of that revenue would have come from some of the UK's biggest companies, including ASDA, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's and Wm Morrisons, and the Scottish Greens also point to research by ACS (http://is.gd/P6LoIm) indicating that the average new supermarket leads to a net loss of 276 jobs.

Since 2003, the Labour Party received £10,942,808 from Lord Sainsbury, plus £99,056.50 from Tescos, £28,445 from Asda, and £10,000 from Selfridges. Over the same period, the Liberal Democrats received £35,684.50 from Tescos, and the Conservatives received £30,000 from Selfridges plus £6,000 from Asda.

Following yesterday's vote, Green MSP Patrick Harvie has written to the Presiding Officer, asking him to review whether Members should be required to declare interests of this sort in the same way as they are required to do so when they have a personally declarable interest.

Mr Harvie declared: "The other opposition parties have voted to aggravate cuts still further, and they could not be more out of touch with the Scottish public if they tried. Over the years Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems have taken hundreds of thousands of pounds from the big retailers, and today it seems as though those companies got value for money. I therefore have today urged the Presiding Officer to consider whether MSPs who fail to declare interests of this sort should be found in breach of the Code of Conduct."

He angrily added: "In the interests of honesty and transparency, Jeremy Purvis, Andy Kerr and Gavin Brown should have stitched corporate logos onto their suits for this debate. Parliament deserves better than this gaggle of apologists for the big retailers. What this unholy alliance have forgotten is that, while supermarkets have their place, they are anything but engines of employment - all too often they mean local shops driven to the wall and communities gutted."

The SNP has also deplored the outcome of the vote.

For funding details, see the Electoral Commission website here: http://is.gd/g4FGnA

[Ekk/3]

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