Monday, March 28, 2011

My Friday night of surreal fantasy - from Glee to Alex Salmond's 50p duty cut

So there I was on Friday night, relaxing with my daughter, watching Glee. It was the Christmas episode where Sue Sylvester turns into the Grinch. It was utterly and absolutely hilarious. Anna thinks the line "I'm just taking these science books to the exorcist" is one of the funniest things she's ever heard.

Straight after that journey into surreal fantasy, we watched Alex Salmond give the SNP's response to the Budget in which he made the claim that in an independent Scotland, oil revenues would enable the Government to take 50p off fuel duty.

Nobody's arguing that fuel prices are cripplingly high at the moment, affecting every single one of us. The UK Government's applying for a derogation on fuel duty for the remotest parts of the country is doing more to help than any previous government and in last week's budget, George Osborne delivered a cut in fuel duty, something Labour never ever did, funded by an extra tax on the oil companies.

However, Alex Salmond's talk of a 50p cut in duty apes the worst of the "jam today with cream and sprinkles on the top - who cares about tomorrow?" short term attitude of the last Labour Government who spent all the country's money, busted the credit card and left us in a right mess.

Ok, if the SNP has got its sums right (and that's not a foregone conclusion by any manner of means), they might be able to deliver that sort of duty cut - but at what cost? How many schools and hospitals would have to close to pay for it? Bear in mind that if we were independent we'd have to be completely funding our own tax, pension and benefits systems, our health and care services, our own defences. Of course, we are not an independent country, we're not likely to become so any time soon, so to even talk about it is at best irrelevant and at worst cynical opportunism.

Just say we did have that kind of money available, should we not be investing in new green technology to take the place of oil when it ran out, and putting some money by to soften the blow when that happens?

As a family we took part in Earth Hour on Saturday night. It was lovely. An hour in the dark playing word games, telling jokes and doing Anna's very funny quizzes. That's just one hour, though and although it has its role in raising awareness and making people think about what we're doing to the planet, it's not going to bring about immediate radical change. It's useful in getting people to understand that we need to think for the longer term on environmental issues but the same goes for all sorts of future provision of services. We've had too much short termism in politics. We have to think about the future we leave to our children and their children to make sure their needs can be met too.

That's why it's wrong of Alex Salmond to dangle the idea of a massive short term fuel duty cut which has zero prospect of happening without looking at the long term implications of oil not being there any more and about the effect on public services. It sounds like a massive election gimmick to me and simply not worthy of the debate Scotland's people deserve about their future.

1 comment:

cynicalHighlander said...

LibDems are in no position to criticise anyone else's policy or judgements on anything.

Scottish elections: Lib Dem candidate quits party

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he criticised the party’s Scottish leader, Tavish Scott, and said founding principles had been “subsumed” by a desire for position and power.

Mr O’Donnell claimed the leadership of the party in Scotland could no longer be regarded as either Liberal or Democratic.


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