Thursday, January 29, 2009

Threatening Behaviour not the Best for Scotland

While some are accusing the Lib Dems of playground behaviour*. While the Scotsman thinks it only took two men to bring down the Budget. The far more telling thing is the hissy fit being carried out by the Ego that is the First Minister.

Yet again the great Ego of Banff, Buchan & Gordon though lesserly of Westminster and formerly of this parish is threatening to take his ball away. All of this when the lesson learnt from the three parties who voted against his was that he wasn't doing enough. Admittedly there was not agreement on what the enough should entail. But this limp budget, on the same day that latest GDP figures were published showing that Scotland is accelerating into the recession quicker than the rest of the UK, just didn't cut the mustard.

Somebody pointed out that the Tories had got just exactly what they had been looking for last year, but the Nats were not much better. Despite the shift in the economic tectonic plates in the past twelve months this budget is barely changed from that which was laid out in 2007 in the Spending Review. While a week is often cited as being a long time in politics the last year has been one heck of a ride. Although it would appear to have passed unnoticed by John Swinney.

Instead of threatening to talk his ball away by resigning and calling an election the First Minister should learn the lesson. After all it was he who chose to go into a minority administration in the first place, therefore he really ahs to listen to more than just his own voice in order to get things done for Scotland. He doesn't have a mandate to steamroller all his ideas over the people of Scotland he merely (and only just) has a mandate to reside at Bute House and hold the office of First Minister of Scotland.

But with that comes the responsibility. The responsibility to listen to the people of Scotland not just to Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond. The responsibility to do more to help them in reality rather that filter only the statistics, or adjust those that make you look good.

The people know the reality they are facing it, time for Salmond and his sheep to wake up and smell the coffee too.

*Nice quiet week for me to be editing the Scottish Round Up then.


Richard Thomson said...

I fail to see the problem, Stephen. If the budget fails to pass next time, then perhaps others should have the opportunity to form an administration which can pass a budget. That's all the First Minister has said, other than to point out that usually under such circumstances, an election follows so that the voters can have their say.

The personal bile being directed at the FM by some in your party is very unattractive, and does nothing to disguise shortcomings in your own party's approach to the budget (did anyone seriously think for a minute that an £800m spending cut would get past the other parties?).

It smacked of trying to grab some political attention, safe in the knowledge that it would never need to be delivered. Interesting that Tavish may be about to put your lot back in the game by dropping the insistence on the tax cut, though - it might open up the prospect of some constructive dialogue.

As someone said not so long ago, we'll extend a hand if you unclench your fist... :-)

Stephen Glenn said...

The problem is Richard that Alex keeps crying wolf. As Yousuf pointed out this is the third time that Alex has threatened to resign. For whatever reason the Nats decided to go it as a minortiy adminstration without any formal ties to any of the pther parties.

If their non-negotiation on certain issues is to pass the blame unto others when it comes to a potential referendum it is as risky strategy.

As a former civil servant Richard I know from the inside that a large amount of Government money is not always spent very efficiently. So of course there is room to use money better. Rather that get dragged down in the minutuae of every paperclip involved however it is the disregard to even look at the potential and even shift partway that may well have led to the Lib Dems severing talks.

The Greens believed they were getting all that they were asking for only to ewnd up short changed by 66%. It took the Conservatives 2 rounds of budget negotiations to get what they were looking for last time. The problem is as the GDP figures showed the one thing we don't have is the luxury of time to do nothing, or next to nothing. Compared with plans made in advance of the full scale of the current situation being know the Nats have barely moved to shore up the breaches and to fend of the current that may take us way under.

Richard Thomson said...

No, Stephen. There's been 2 budgets, and on each occasion, the FM has stated, quite accurately, that if the budget did not pass, then the government would step down. That's not crying wolf, it's simply calling it like it is.

If the Lib Dems genuinely believed that there was scope to cut £800m of wasteful expenditure, then they should have been prepared to come to the table with some examples. Expecting someone else to do the legwork for you, particularly when there was no majority in parliament for the proposal, was just not serious.

As for the Greens, they asked for £100m and were told they weren't getting it. Normal practice thereafter in a negotiation is for both parties to move towards a compromise - if Patrick Harvie was prepared to settle for £33m, he could probably have had it long before the debate. Only he can explain why he left it so late before walking away from the deal he had asked for. Margo and the Tories seemed able to come to a deal, so the idea that there's some sort of problem with anyone in the SNP is, I would suggest, at best mistaken.

Out of interest, what would you be asking for right now if you were in Tavish's position?

Stephen Glenn said...

You call it "calling it like it is" yet instead of getting down and doing something to make sure it doesn't become a reality even that phase seems to get blown apart.

I have heard some areas of savings that have been mentioned Richard. Indeed if I recall at the Hustings Tavish came up with well over half off the top of his head.

If I recall reading 3 weeks ago the Greens were told they WERE getting £100m and all sides praised them for acheiving it. Yet that appears to have unravelled over the inteveneing weeks. Partick Harvie it was who used the words "lack of respect" coming from the Government not me.

Also the attitude of Alex at FMQs today seems to still be far from concilliatory as if yesterday did not happen and bridges do not have to be made. Bear in mind Richard where it is that I do a lot of my canvassing, so you can imagin how many anitdotes I hear about the First Minister, his responsive or not to others etc.

As for the what do Tavish and we do now. Bernard has some good examples on his blog. I'd need a little time to think about it this evening, when spreadsheets aren't crying out for my attention.


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