Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Year end

As always, no matter what happens at Westminster with Brexit and all that mess, politics in Scotland goes on per normal. The draft budget was published last week – in draft form so that it can be examined by opposition parties and by the various committees. As the SNP does not have an overall majority it will require the support of at least one other party to get that budget over the finishing line, some time in late January.

The Tories want more money for this that and oatcake but they also want no tax increases for the most wealthy in Scotland. If those small increases did not go ahead then there would not be the same money for health, education and housing just for starters.

It’s worse they want tax cuts for the wealthy which alone would take £500 million out of public spending. Labour are up to much the same game although they want higher taxes despite the fact that something called the Fiscal Commission (which they supported) and is independent of government, has calculated just how much you can increase tax on the better-off before it becomes counterproductive.

But of course they can say what they like because they don’t have to balance the books. You and I know while those on the highest tax – that is earning 150k plus – will pay 46 per cent, most folk will pay less tax than in England.

What do you get in Scotland as a result? Well no prescription charges for starters –running at just below £9 per prescription in England, no tuition fees for our students. Costs around £9,000 per annum to students in England and free personal care for our elderly, now being extended to some under 65.

Someone once complained to me that as they had no children why should they care about tuition fees? Well I said as gently as possible that one day they would thank their lucky stars for the medical attention they received because someone could train as a nurse or GP thanks to free tuition.

You see we are all in this together and as we grow older perhaps for the first time in our lives we find we are in need of hospital care, a bus pass, free personal care.

At the other end of life our children have 600 hours of free nursery care and P1-P3 are entitled to a free lunch. It’s a fact of life, you get what you pay for and we pay through taxation.

If you want to quibble about UK income tax and indeed the hidden taxes such as VAT and petrol duty and National Insurance, then direct those objections to the Tory government at Westminster.

After all, some of your hard-earned cash goes into maintaining and developing Trident running at trillions. Money that could be spent on alleviating poverty rather than punishing the poor through the discredited Universal Credit.

In the meantime, the Scottish Government has so far as it can attempted to mitigate against these draconian measures. But every mitigation takes money away from our other public services. Besides, why should it have to mitigate in the first place? So while Brexit drags on and the Tories implode and Labour dithers, the Scottish Government and the Parliament gets on with the day job which it was elected to do.