Yesterday the Scottish Parliament voted to scrap the charge for NHS prescriptions once and for all.
This move was supported by the SNP Government and Labour, and opposed by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.
I have written often enough that I think that a small prescription charge for those who can afford it is not really a big deal so I'm glad that the Lib Dems stuck to their long held position on this. Health spokesman Ross Finnie said:
"NHS Boards are making difficult choices on cutting nursing staff and hospital beds as they struggle to cope with the funding squeeze. But the Scottish Government is still determined to extend reduced or free prescriptions to all.
"In the present economic circumstances, Liberal Democrats have made it clear that it is inappropriate to proceed with the final stage of abolishing prescription charges."I can forgive the SNP for doing it - it's been their long held policy and something they've been working towards for the last 4 years, and supported before. Fair play to them, even if I disagree with them.
What I don't get is the Labour Party's position. They didn't support abolition of prescription charges in 2006 when Colin Fox tried to introduce that measure. Last year Mr MacNumpty reported in his Sunday Whip column that Labour had abstained on the issue. I'm sure there have been many other votes in between, too. The BBC reports, however, that Labour supported the SNP's abolition plan.
Why would they change the habits of a lifetime? It's not as if there's an election round the corner or anything..... Oh wait.........
Whatever their motivations, it looks as though the Labour Party has been prepared to back something it doesn't believe in, costing money that we can ill afford. They don't seem to have learned anything about financial responsibility since Liam Byrne left his chilling note that "there was no money left" last May. Labour have shown in office at every level, from Council to UK that they can't be trusted to keep the public finances on an even keel. Cllr Jenny Dawe, leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, wrote for Liberal Democrat Voice last year about the mess they found when they took over from Labour in 2007. We know that at Westminster part of the reason we have such a massive deficit is because Labour failed to mend the roof when the sun was shining. Do we really want them doing the same at Holyrood?