Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Budget

I have to say, I didn't see that coming! With the votes at 64-64, the casting vote lay with the Presiding Officer. Convention suggests he should vote for the status quo, and he did so.

The Garden Lobby was bristling with journalists immediately afterwards, with a mass exodus to an SNP press conference shortly after that.

I watched the budget debate, and John Swinney gave a steady and competent performance. Head and shoulders above the other speakers however was Derek Brownlee whose barnstorming efforts landed heavy blows against Labour. Jeremy Purves for the Lib Dems was weak with a dull, pedestrian delivery. Labour's contribution was hesitant and unpolished.

So what now? I just spoke with one Lib Dem MSP who wants to see an election. Given that election dates for the Scottish Parliament are pretty much cast in stone, that's not going to happen.

The Presiding Officer is holding a meeting tomorrow morning to look at the next step, and the SNP may have to do some fancy fiscal footwork to get the Greens on board. The Tories supported the budget, but are now saying that they cannot guarantee to support a different budget that the SNP may bring forward.

Swinney needs to get a budget passed soon, or the ramifications for local authorities, businesses and council tax payers could be horrendous.

Labour, who threatened a vote of no confidence in the immediate aftermath of the vote, have backed away from this slightly and are now saying that they will do this if the budget fails again.

Personally, I think Labour have come out of this rather badly, and the worst is yet to come for them if this continues to go wrong.

I believe this will be resolved soon enough. The SNP will negotiate with the Greens and bring back a budget with enough money in it to provide the home insulation investment that Patrick Harvie wants.

Interesting times...............

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