Scottish Greens back windfall tax after SNP failed to support Labor proposal on oil and gas firms

Scottish Greens have opened up a divide with the SNP by supporting a windfall tax on oil and gas profits.

Labor used a debate at Westminster to demand a one-off tax on multinational giants like Shell to help ease the cost of living crisis.

Energy bills are about to soar by £700 and Labor believe Big Oil must help to foot the costs.

However, SNP MPs did not vote and some of their members expressed deep skepticism.

Richard Thomson, the SNP MP for Gordon, said of the plan: “I am sorry to say that I have not heard anything to persuade me why a one-off smash and grab on the North sea industry is the best way to deal with this crisis.”

When pressed at Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she believed in “fair” taxation, but warned the “burden” should “not fall only on people, jobs and investment in the north-east of Scotland”.

The Greens, who share power with the SNP in the Scottish Government, are more enthusiastic about a windfall tax, which could be implemented at a Westminster level.

Scottish Greens energy spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: “The Scottish Greens have long advocated for windfall taxes on obscene profits, especially when people are struggling with the costs of food and energy.

“For example we proposed that supermarkets who saw profits arise during lockdown should pay their fair share towards the recovery.”

He added: “However, while a windfall tax on oil and gas producers and a cut of VAT on energy bills might help with rising bills in the short term, ultimately we can only tackle rising energy costs by reducing the reliance on gas.

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“Analysis shows that the decision by David Cameron to “cut the green crap” has added £2.5 billion to energy bills at a time when we should have been moving away from fossil fuels, and with the UK Government charging billpayers for the cost of expensive new nuclear power stations, bills could rise even further.

“Only by investing in renewable alternatives to oil and gas can we tackle the long-term crisis of rising fuel bills.”

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, voted for the Labor windfall tax plan last week.

Scottish Labor MSP Colin Smyth said: “These comments from the Greens are bound to cause some tension with their SNP partners in government.

“SNP Ministers may be dancing around the issue up here, but the party showed their true colors at Westminster, sitting on their hands and refusing to back Labour’s plans.

“No Green Party worthy of the name could oppose these plans, so it beggars belief that the Scottish Greens were willing to fall into line behind the SNP at Holyrood and refuse to back calls for a windfall tax.

“The Scottish Greens must stand up for their principles and distance themselves from the SNP’s baseless attacks on this important policy.

“Both parties need to decide whether they want to side with people struggling to pay extortionate bills or oil and gas companies raking in £27,000 a minute.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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