Monday, 2 February 2009

Lib Dems Close to Finalising Budget Deal

It looks likely that later today (weather permitting) the SNP and Liberal Democrats are likely to seal a deal that will smooth the passage of the reintroduced Scottish Budget.

The actual details of what has been agreed between Alex Salmond and Tavish Scott have not been disclosed just yet but it is rumoured that part of the deal may be that the Nats engage with the Calman Commission looking at future powers short of full independence so that not all of Scotland's eggs will be placed in one or another basket should a referendum on the issue come about.

Another issue that is likely to have cropped up in discussions in capital investment in roads, hospitals and schools and whether some form of Public Private Partnerships (PPP). It is an issue to which the SNP have been averse but they may be persuaded to be forthcoming to increase the £230m accelerated spending in this area. Some capital programmes have slowed as a result of the lack of private money because the replacement scheme the Scotland Futures Trust has yet to achieve anything.

It sounds like flesh has been added to the bones of the initial statement last week that all the Lib Dems were intending to add was to talk to Westminster about possible borrowing. It appears that there are constructive additions to help the Scottish economy that may be in the package.


  1. Stephen, does it make any sense to you that one day a Budget can be "woefully inadequate" and the very next Tavish and co will be voting for it unchanged?

    I mean, surely no-one thinks the Nats will swallow PPP?

  2. James, but wansn't the SFT just a dressed-up PPP anyway?

    If not then it's certainly the case that the SFT bird won't fly unless it is essentially a reformed PPP.

  3. Stuart, the aim originally was for bonds, which would have been great except for the Nats having apparently not read the Scotland Act.

    Now I agree absolutely, they're working on something which Swinney called part of the same family as PPP. All that remains is the name. And it won't fly, just as PPP should never have been allowed off the ground.

  4. Yes, and I think the essential problem is that the SNP think they can borrow money to fund public spending for nothing, whereas of course the financier needs a return.

    Of course, the PPP/PFI models allowed for excessive returns and thus profiteering and the SNP should have perhaps concentrated on reigning this in a bit rather than trying to claim they could get something for nothing, or at least next to nothing.

  5. "...Some capital programmes have slowed as a result of the lack of private money because the replacement scheme the Scotland Futures Trust has yet to achieve anything...."

    Nothing to do with the banks not lending then?

    Looks like the Liberals are preparing ther get out clause for Calman.

    They should take a fuller role in the National Conversation and put forward their federalist ideas. as a third question in the referendum.

    It would strike asunder the notion of some kind of 'unionist' cabal at Holyrood when patently none exists.

    How much longer before the Tory's are backing fiscal independence.?