Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Herald reports that "A new row over oil revenues has broken out between Holyrood and Westminster after a report showed that even after they were taken into account, Scotland’s overall debt would have risen by £3.5 billion this year."

the story, here

goes on to say that .... ".. even if all UK oil and gas receipts had gone to Scotland, only in nine of the last 28 years would Scotland’s finances have been in surplus and the last time it would have happened would have been 1988...".

Predictably Alex Salmond has gone into rhetorical overdrive... he (or his "official spokesman") says "The Scotland Office is now spending its time working against Scotland’s interests rather than standing up for Scotland at Westminster – it is the anti-Scotland Office".

The lesson: the SNP's economic analysis is wrong, but if you dare to question it, the SNP accuses you of being "anti-Scotland".

It's typical and pathetic. What can the sensible person say beyond "Oh dear"?

Monday, 14 December 2009

How to negotiate, LibDem Style.....

Those tough negotiators over at Scottish LibDem HQ have really put the squeeze on the SNP this time, with a lesson in hard-nosed diplomacy that we can all benefit from studying.

Niccollo Machiavelli hasn't got a look-in with these smart operators. Oh no.

So what, you ask, have the LibDem toughies come up with? Well, they've agreed to back the SNP budget, but for a price: there has to be 5% cut in "fat cat" wages in local councils... those officers earning over £100k will have to take 5% cut in wages....

the details are here....

Of course, the LibDem leadership will have to use all their skills of persuasion to convince John Swinney that attacking "fat cat" wages in the current economic climate, in the depth of a recession, will be at all popular with the punters.......

Aye right. What this amounts to is the LibDems supporting the SNP budget and in return they get... what? An action that the SNP will not only gladly endorse, would probably have done off their own bat anyway, and will certainly take all the credit for.

The reckoning is that this will save about £30million.. but there is no mention of what the LibDems want the "savings" to be spent on. Having saved the money, it is apparently being gifted back to Mr Swinney to do with what he will. Cut-throat political dealings isn't the game here, it seems.

You have to ask: is this the biggest concession the LibDems could have got in the current situation, with money tight and the SNP's popularity falling and the nats desperate to get their budget through parliament at almost any cost...???

... Tavish the street-fighter.... ?

"Oh dear, oh dear" is the only appropriate comment.....

Mike Russell, one of your smarter nats

The Herald reports, here, that the Education Secretary Michael Russell has offered councils a deal on speeding up the SNP's policy to cut class sizes. The deals is: if councils do a bit more on class sizes, they can scale back on providing free school meals.

The class-size policy is already dead in the water, so Mr Russell's proposals mean that, as well as failing to deliver on that policy, the SNP will also fail to meet their pledge on free school meals for deserving children.

Mike Russell is widely regarded as one of the cleverer SNP politicians, but a compromise that destroys two policies instead of one? You have to ask: how clever is that?

Monday, 7 December 2009

Class war... as in "all in the same class in school..."

David Cameron calls Gordon Brown "petty" for mentioning the fact that he and his shadow cabinet seems to be comprised of toffs who went to the most expensive public schools.

This, according to Dave, is "class warfare". Dave says "it doesn't matter what school a chap went to.....It's policy and priority that matter..."

Aye. Well. Up to a point, Lord Copper.

Of course it doesn't matter what school any particular individual went to: even Eton will produce the occasional outstanding individual. But when half the Shadow cabinet went to the same school, at the same time, and then went to the same university at the same time, and while at university they were all members of the same club at the same time, and then the went and joined the same party at the same time, and now we are supposed to swallow the argument that these half-a-dozen blokes that went to the same school, university, club at the same time are, by some miracle, the half-a-dozen people in the country best qualified to form the next government....

It does stretch credulity a teeny bit, does it not?

If me and the other alumni of Gasswork Comprehensive 1972 were to come along and make a similar claim, what would the Tory press say? What would George and Dave say?

"Oiks" would be the least of it, I fear.

Then we would find out what class warfare really is.....

...Does anyone remember "Gorbals Mick"...?

When the sheet metal worker from Shettleston had the temerity to rise above his station and become Speaker of the toffs' own (they believe)Parliament, to the rage of certain Tories? Now that was nasty. That was class war.... but we didn't hear Dave whingeing then, did we?

It seem the Tories can hand it out in the war of the classes. But they seem mighty reluctant to take it....

Friday, 4 December 2009

GARL Vote - SNP and Tory Coalition

One of the notable things about the current Scottish Pariament, and something that has always puzzled me, is that the SNP's best friends at Holyrood are the Tories. The Tories would deny it of course, but actions speak louder than words.

The SNP Budget would certainly have failed in the last two years if the Conservatives had not rescued it with their votes. The mystery is why the party that has in the recent past styled itself The Conservative and Unionist Party, is the party that always seems to prop up the SNP administration at moments of danger.

The process continues with the defeat of a Labour attempt to rescue the Glasgow Airport Rail Link by getting it into this year's budget.

The publication of the Finance Committee’s Budget Report shows that the Conservative MSP Derek Brownlee voted with the SNP members of the committee to prevent the reinstatement of GARL.

This is doubly puzzling since the leaders of the six largest Scottish business associations have recently started a campaign to save the GARL.

The Conservatives like to pose as the businessman's party. It is difficult to see what benefit the Tories gain from this abandonment of their usual business friendly stance. No doubt the will claim some concessions in the Budget, but it is unlikley that any gain will balance the Tories' loss of credibility with Scottish business leaders.

And as the SNP slithers and slips in popularity the the Tories risk being harmed by their close association with the less and less popular nationalists.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Jim Sillars agrees with me....!!!???

I posted earlier today (Suppose they gave a referendum and nobody came) that the referendum bill was a damp squib.

It appears that Jim Sillars agrees with me. The text of his letter to the Herald reads ...

"I don’t know why the SNP government insists on calling its publication on a referendum on Scottish independence a White Paper. With its lack of analysis, its failure to examine the present and future that beckons inside a declining Union that is bankrupt, and its implied acceptance of “devolution max” (no doubt to be defined by Westminster), White Flag would be a more accurate description. No wonder the Unionists are rejoicing.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh."

Suppose they gave a referendum and nobody came?

Yesterday Alex Salmond announced, to much bagpipe playing, military marching, blue face-painting and background saltire projection, a small referendum.

Which is the remarkable was a small announcement. The notable thing is just how small and insignificant are the ripples that the event has created.

To be sure, nationalists are in a ferment. The blogs and letter pages flow with rhetoric. But the nation is unmoved. There is a collective national shoulder-shrug.

This indfifference is best reflected on the Herald front page: a main splash about the Crisis in A&E in our hospitals and a single column side story about the referendum.

Because, truth be told, the Scottish people are more concerned about the real world of unemployment and economic uncertainty, of council cuts and no new schools or hospitals and how they and their families will survive the next few difficult months or years.

The referendum is an irrelevance to the real problems of the real people in the real world.

No doubt it will carry on through its dreary steps, with Alex Salmond waving and smirking and boasting as he usally does. But this time he will be performing in a void. Nobody but his own troops will be listening and even fewer will be caring.

Pity that we have to waste £9 million of public money on this SNP inspired diversion and distraction from our real problems....