03 February 2010

A Good Day for John Swinney

Well, that's it, with surprisingly little fuss, Scotland has a Budget for 2010-11, with the SNP, Tories, Greens and Margo MacDonald combining to pass the Bill by 66 votes to 45, with 14 abstentions.

Of course, it was a difficult time for Labour - but then, their caught once again in the Opposition Paradox. They've latched on (as any good opposition should) to the Scottish Government decision to withdraw funding for GARL, but have added a little extra hyperbole to paint the Government as having an East Coast bias. Of course, that overlooks the fact that this very same Government baulked at both EARL and the Edinburgh Trams, but had the projects basically foisted upon it by the collective will of the opposition parties. That doesn't sound like a Government with a bias towards the East Coast to me, but there you go.

The problem was, having nailed their trollies to the mast on GARL, Labour couldn't climb down, but couldn't draw up alternative spending plans which included it either, a situation which the LibDems found themselves in last year with their income tax cut demand. This time, the LibDems engaged, and got enough for them not to oppose the Budget. A lesson for Labour.

So today, Labour voted against £20million extra funding for further and higher education, which they continually seek. They voted against the new modern apprenticeships they sought last year. And they opposed the boiler scrappage scheme which their colleagues in Whitehall introduced, and they demanded. Three things which Labour have sought in the past, and all of them good ideas (along with the Greens' eminently reasonable call for the home insulation scheme, also in the Budget opposed by Labour) - and all of them not worthy of Andy Kerr's backing on the grounds that they didn't come with a white elephant railway line on the side.

So when your local Labour MSP campaigns on any of those issues, ask them why they voted against that extra money in today's Budget.

When your local Labour MSP campaigns to save your local post office, ask them why they opposed the Post Office Diversification Fund (and full credit is due to the LibDems for a great idea - I slag them off mercilessly, but they have their moments and this is one of them).

When they brag about how they've made housing a priority, ask why they voted against the extra £31million extra allocated to the housing budget.

When they talk about their green credentials, ask them why they opposed not only the home insulation scheme but also the extra £10million for wave and tidal energy.

When they criticise the Government's support for business, ask them why they opposed the increased threshold for Small Business Rates Relief.

Those are the measures opposed by Labour today. And all because they couldn't keep GARL going and balance the books.

1 comment:

Dubbieside said...

I think you can add prescription charge reduction to your list.

I thought the budget was needed so the further reduction to £3 could go ahead.

After April prescriptions in Scotland £3 in England £7.20. All the MSPs who used to be socialists at one time vote not to reduce prescription charges. Who do they think they are, torys?