Wednesday, 28 January 2009

How to Lose Friends and Budget Negotiations

It appears that there is a stubborn mule at the SNP side of the desk regarding getting its budget through the key 3rd stage today. Even the Greens who were applauded by many, including me here, for seeming to have reached an agreement for free insulation in return for their votes are saying they will vote against.

With both Labour and the Lib Dems threatening to vote against as the minority government is not prepared to give way to any party, even the Conservatives have said they have received "nothing concrete", it looks like the honeymoon may be over. So the SNP having tried the calling a new election card with last years budget, although as they need a 2/3 vote of the Parliament to call it, Labour no that such a bluff would require their support.

Indeed last night ministers were daring opposition MSP to vote down the budget, claiming that it was "designed to take account of hard times in the current economy". Although as I pointed out earlier this is at less than a 1% shift in the spending laid out in 2007 the smallest change in the face of the current crisis of any national or devolved government in the West.

The vote may crucially rely on Margot Macdonald, who like the Tories is not happy with the lengths that the SNP have gone, but may be persuaded to vote for the budget. It could leave the vote balanced at 64-64 leaving the Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson to use his casting vote.

Mr Fergusson has already indicated that should the vote be tied he would have to vote for the status quo and against the Budget Bill. The irony of such a casting vote being used for the status quo is not lost on a Liberal Democrat in light of the Trumpgate affair in Aberdeenshire. Especially after the scorn levelled by the SNP on Martin Ford for using his casting vote in just such as way as precedence indicates it should.


  1. And there was me thinking that none of the bloggers outside Holyrood were going to write anything ahead of Stage 3..

  2. Had been distractred by other things over the last few days. But also was holding back to see just how the negotiations went.