Friday, 9 January 2009

Greening the Budget But What?

You have to applaud Patrick Harvie and Robin Harper for getting their £1bn deal (over 10 years) free insulation deal for Scottish Homes into the SNP budget. It is a very good move and something that a Labour led coalition would never have acceded to, so they have grasped their opportunity well is getting this through.

The Nats of course are worried that without a precedent to abstain if you don't like the budget, as we've had in Westminster since the days of Lloyd George, they could have faced defeat if they could only have garnered the support of the Conservatives as they did last year. Alex Salmond indeed was clearly panicked earlier in the week when he again threatened to go home and call an early election if the other parties refused to play with his fitba.

One thing this new budget doesn't seem to do is address the issue of how the credit crunch is affecting the people of Scotland. Alex Salmond was all bluster when Gordon Brown was thinking about what to do for the people of the UK. Neither are addressing the most hardly hit, Darling tinkering with VAT is not making a major impact on the poorest families of Scotland and Salmond in his budget appears to be all hot air.

Tavish Scott took over as leader of the Liberal Democrats by calling on the Scottish Government to make real cuts to help the people of Scotland. With the Scottish Futures Trust floundering like a beached whale in the Firth of Forth one wonders if the former economist really has a grasp of business and individuals economic needs and responsibilities at this time. The Lib Dems earlier this week reiterated their call for cuts in the personal rate of income tax. This is something that Alex actually can have some control over. Like the lift at the offices of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy might have said when asked by Zaphod to rise, "Have you considered all the possibilities of down?" This budget from the SNP appears to be steering along the same course as last year, not bearing attention that everything that Westminster has attempted to do as a stimulus is not working. The banks aren't passing on the rule cuts in rates, lending has yet to pick up. VAT cuts are not stemming the almost daily run of someone from our High Street running to an administrator, of pulling down the shutters one last and final time.

A stimulus requires a reaction, that is why you stimulate. If there isn't a reaction something else is wrong or you've been focusing your attention in the wrong place. All the while nothing is even looking like slowing down or turning around mind you the same people are suffering. Working out not what to spend but what not to spend as their budgets get tighter and tighter. They want, indeed need, to spend if given the opportunity they would happily go back to their previous spending habits. They don't have masses of savings to buffer them, they can't afford to. But give them relieve of the worry and they will spend and create stimulus, which will domino effect up the economic food chain.

But Alex may have more of Gordon in him that he cares to admit. He's a Tim'rous Beastie in the making, one with a loud hailer alright but behind the mouthpiece cowering behind Gordon and Alistair unprepared to be bold for the people of Scotland, happy to settle for the blame game and sweep all the blame down south. So he'll be hoping his Tory friends will now help back his timidity.

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