Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Budget - Where Now?

Well, my earlier confidence may have been misplaced. Alex Salmond's "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough" attitude to the defeat of the SNP's budget is hardly the response of a Statesman.

He could have taken the defeat on the chin and made some conciliatory noises about how his Government would try to build a consensus within the Parliament. But, no, he had to start threatening elections. Well, if he carries on like this, he will have to take the consequences. Lady Bracknell applies - to lose one budget could be considered unfortunate, to lose two would be careless.

Now, I think the Lib Dem tax cut idea is a good and clever and bold move. It would be a superb kickstat for the economy and it would put £300 back in the pocket of the average Scottish earner. There is no way, however, even on a cold day in hell, that we are going to get that out of Swinney so I personally don't think we should die in a ditch over it. We should accept that this Government is too craven to deliver such a radical move.

I think we do, however, need to push for more public investment to stimulate the economy and to support businesses. Every week I see far too many families who are in terrible housing or who are homeless. We also have loads and loads of construction workers who are out of work. Why not embark on a really radical housebuilding and social housing improvement plan for a start? And we could please Patrick Harvie by insulating all the houses too. That would be my number one priority as I consider it disgraceful that we can't provide decent quality social housing for everybody who needs it.

We have a lot to contribute to the budgeting process and should play our part enthusiastically and pragmatically.

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