Sunday, 7 October 2012

Politics gone mad

The United Kingdom is in a financial crisis that is leading to significant cuts in public expenditure.

And a lot of people in no way responsible for that crisis will suffer as a result of these cuts.

Except apparently in Scotland.

For, while the Left throughout the UK is protesting about the effect of these cuts, the one political Party who maintains that they still have enough money to do everything they want is the SNP. Indeed, while public services are being slashed in the rest of the UK, George Osborne, presumably out of the goodness of his heart, has, according to the SNP,  found enough money, through the block grant, for the Holyrood Administration to implement their programme in full. And indeed to freeze Council Tax in the process.

All that's required is apparently prudent budgeting and there need be no impact on the public at all.

If Osborne had any sense he'd surely be inviting John Swinney to stand beside him on the platform at the Tory Conference in Birmingham this week so that Swinney could exhort the rest of the public sector to follow his example. "We've got less money as well!" Swinney could declaim "But is anybody in Scotland suffering? Not for a moment. Indeed, through "prudent budgeting" we can not only maintain all of our frontline services but also afford lots of perks not available to you spendthrift English!"

This is the politics of the mad house.

There will be those reading this blog who will be old enough to remember when a significant faction of the SNP thought it to be an error to advocate a devolved assembly. Anything less than full independence was no better than the direct Westminster rule. Indeed that was the Party's platform, more or less, from 1979 to 1997. They feared that participation in devolution, particularly devolution with little financial autonomy, would lead ultimately to comfortable acceptance of that settlement. In that these Cassandras may or may not yet be right but even they did not anticipate a situation whereby an SNP devolved administration became an apologist for a Westminster Tory Government's public spending settlement. Yet, if we can, as the SNP themselves claim, have everything we want with the money made available by the Tories then, logically, that is what they have become.

Only we can't have everything we want but, for some bizarre reason, the Nationalists themselves won't admit that. So we get the 1000 extra Cops but only at the expense of 3000 back up staff and an overall understaffed Police Service; we have the free University tuition but only at the expense of the slashing of college expenditure and the abandonment to unemployment of the less academically able; we get unrestricted bus travel for the over sixties but only at the expense of the Glasgow Airport rail link; we get "free" personal care but only at the cost of the denial of potentially life saving drugs to the NHS; perhaps above all, we get the Council Tax freeze but only at the expense of school closures, pot-holed roads and unattended child abuse.

Fair enough if these are your priorities, as they are apparently the Nationalists' priorities. But let's not pretend any of this is "free". Or adequate. It comes at a cost, much of it paid by the very poorest and most vulnerable.

And yet when Labour suggest that this is precisely what is happening we are met by flat denials from the Nationalists and, in the mad world of Scottish politics, it is we who are accused of being apologists for the Tories.

You couldn't make this up



8 comments:

  1. Labour have not an ounce of credibility in financial affairs, or morality. The track record of Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling is abysmal. The 10p tax theft. The raid on pension funds destroying many pensioners incomes. The disastrous selling of gold. The PFI debt legacy strangling our health service. And Johann Lamont! Dear God help us that this person should never ever have to represent Scotland, she is a nasty bitter spite driven by visceral hatred and envy. She brings nothing but shame to this country. And now she dances to Balls. The Tory's and Liberals are not significant enough in Scotland to even discuss them. If Lamont and Balls are so concerned about something for nothing, let them lead by example and stop drawing expenses, and pay to go to work as the rest of us have to do. There is no such thing as something for nothing, Scots pay taxes, they have given the SNP a mandate to govern twice, yet their is no sound of pennies dropping on the labour benches.

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  2. All I can take from this post is that you don't believe anyone could possibly be better with a budget than George Osborne.

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  3. "So we get the 1000 extra Cops but only at the expense of 3000 back up staff"

    Given that crime is at a near-40-year record low, it rather looks as though that was the right choice to make with the limited funds available, wouldn't you say?

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  4. "we have the free University tuition but only at the expense of the slashing of college expenditure and the abandonment to unemployment of the less academically able"

    Drivel. A record number of apprenticeships is not "abandoning the less academically able to unemployment".

    "we get unrestricted bus travel for the over sixties but only at the expense of the Glasgow Airport rail link"

    Good. GARL would be of use to a tiny minority of the population (that said minority would doubtless include you is I'm sure just coincidence) and certainly not to any of "the very poorest and most vulnerable" you profess to be concerned with, who can't afford to go jetting around.

    "we get "free" personal care but only at the cost of the denial of potentially life saving drugs to the NHS"

    Personal care is preventative spending. By all rational accounts it saves more money than it costs by keeping the elderly out of hospital, and in doing so also frees beds for others, saving lives. How surprising that you choose to focus on only the negative side of the equation.

    Why is the money spent on personal care the only place savings could be made to pay for cancer drugs? Why not defence, say? Your entire argument is dishonest.

    "the Council Tax freeze but only at the expense of school closures, pot-holed roads and unattended child abuse"

    That is a truly despicable line, a new low for you. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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  5. Ian Smart IS a Labour member or supporter, is that right? Wow.

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  6. Ian appears to be confused by the concept of "choices", which is surprising considering "tough choices" is all his party has gone on about of late.

    Ian provides examples of choices the SNP have made, and much to all our surprises, goes on to claim they should have made different choices. Hands up who thinks he would have said "the SNP have made the correct choices by sacking 1000 front line police in order to keep hold of 3000 back up staff, putting extra funding into colleges to the detriment of potential university students, and axing free bus travel in order to build an airport link to replace what is already a perfectly adequate bus service"?

    What, no one? Really?

    Here's "politics gone mad", Ian - the party that introduced the welfare state arguing for the ending of universal provisions, and trying to create social divisions in a manner that is gaining plaudits from Tories all over the UK.

    If you want to complain about affordability, how about looking at the other side of the equation - namely how to raise revenues, rather than how to make cuts (particularly to bits of the budget that are nearly negligible).

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  7. From reading the article, my impression was that the point being made is that within any budget choices *have to* be made. It's not so much a criticism of those choices, but the fact that they are disguised as being free. Free, in terms of being without cost, when in fact the cost is the other projects and services that in turn do not get the funding they otherwise would.

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