As the fine tuning of the Scottish Budget looms we have already seen spectacular tribalism from pro-UK parties. Scottish Labour have stated they will produce a document detailing what they would if they were in power; great but they are not in power. The SNP are operating a minority government, which pro-UK parties love to point out when it suits them, which means some consensus will have to be made with another party in the chamber for it to pass.
In the last Scottish Budget in the Summer a deal was struck with the Scottish Green Party (SGP) which reversed some, around £140million, of cuts that were planned by the SNP draft budget on local authorities. This followed on to the main stream media attacking the SGP branding them ‘SNP poodles’ and ‘SNP lite’ – all very mature and narrow minded. It is looking like this time, yet again, it will be the SGP who will be negotiating with the SNP on passing a budget due to no constructive input from any other opposition parties.
The cat calling and the ‘auld alliance’ digs from Scottish Labour towards the SGP was possibly one of the many low points for the party in recent times. The reality is that politically, Scottish Labour and the SNP are not poles apart, and should really be working together. They will of course deny this but you can see that in many of the proposals put forward in their manifestos.
Anyway, moving forward to this budget we have seen Labour already drawing a line in the sand. Former leader Kezia Dugdale has said that the finance secretary cannot please everyone and Ruth Davison uses her pots and pans to bang on about wrongly raising taxes in Scotland; but conveniently wants the Scottish Government to increase spending on public services but Westminster has cut Scotland’s budget in real terms. James Kelly MSP has stated that Scottish Labour’s draft proposal of what they would do if their in power will be published as an alternative Scottish Budget. What seems to have escaped Scottish Labour and James Kelly is that they are not in power; they’re not even the official opposition. They should stop wasting time scoring party political points and sit down with the Scottish Government to deliver a Scottish Budget that reflects all party’s at the negotiating table.
The SGP have made it clear they will not support a budget that means local authorities face cuts to spending. The shopping list of proposals have been met to some extent and should be welcomed by everyone across Scotland in the centre and the left of politics. This includes pay rises for public sector workers and more tax bands to tax higher earners for our public services. All of which even Kezia Dugdale has attributed to the hard work of the SGP MSP’s.
Scottish Labour could be part of this progressive change in Scottish politics. However, they choose to sit in the huff in the corner not supporting other parties with shared interests because of their allegiance to their pro-UK stance. The SGP have an entirely different vision for an independent Scotland than the SNP, but are still happy to work with other parties, including the Scottish Government, to shift politics more to the left; albeit it not to where they want to see the budget ideologically.
Having a minority ‘social-democratic’ government in Scotland needing support from left wing parties is a much more favourable position than Westminster. In Westminster, we have a minority incompetent Conservative Government that is propped up by a suspended ‘supply and demand’ deal with extreme right wing Democratic Unionist Party. A budget marginally passed in the UK Parliament which has signed the UK up to further Austerity which unfortunately trickles down and restricts spending in Scotland. The UK Government was embarrassingly defeated on the Brexit Withdrawal Bill just last month because of ‘rebel’ Tory backbenchers swinging the vote in favour of the opposition.
Might I suggest something to Scottish Labour and indeed the UK Labour Party. Instead of playing party political games to gain more popularity in Scotland, sit down and work with the parties on the left. In Westminster, work with other party’s, such as SNP, Plaid and Green, to get more powers devolved to Holyrood to actually end Austerity in Scotland. Scotland did not vote for continued Austerity, we never voted for Austerity when it was proposed in 2010. Scotland needs the ability to tax corporations fairly, manage our financial sector and above all reduce the amount spent on defence to be able to provide world class universal services we desire not paying for Trident nuclear weapons we never voted for. We could be taking an entirely different route from the rUK if we had the power and the levers to do so.
Come on Labour……Do something good for Scotland for a change! Sit down and talk and put your differences aside!