Wednesday, 22 April 2009
So the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given us all the benefit of his wisdom in the form of the Budget statement, and we are all supposed to be eternally grateful that we have such experienced and capable hands at the helm of the United Kingdom's economy. The same hands, of course, that steered us into this mess in the first place. The same image of prudence that watched over banks out of control and city fat cats getting rich quick off the back of spiralling speculation. But this budget represents the ultimate betrayal. In effecting huge cuts in public spending - 'efficiency savings' he euphamistically calls them - the last remnant of any prospect that New Labour might be considered as a socialist party has been stripped away, and New Labour has now finally and fully adopted the mantle of Old Conservative. But worse, this budget, created by two Scots who should be ashamed of themselves, is the ultimate betrayal of Scotland. Here, both last year and this, we have done great things - we have boosted the pockets of every household in the country with a nationally agreed freeze on Council Tax, supported by extra money from the Scottish Government to Local Authorities to make this possible. We have cut prescription charges two years running. We have reduced to zero the non domestic rates for every small business with rateable value below £8,000, and reduced costs for those between £8,000 and £15,000. We have put money into housebuilding and more. And we have done all this within a background this year of the most measly of settlements from Westminster. We have done this through collective efforts to secure genuine efficiency savings to balance the books. That the Darling Bud of Westminster should say that 'Scotland must take it's share' of the cuts they now propose totally fails to recognise that the real home of prudence, care for our people and drive for efficiency is here in Scotland. Been there, done that, got the benefits. So what more can we achieve in the name of 'efficiency'? Am I alone in asserting that this is a clear, considered and deliberate ploy on the part of the Westminster Government to undermine all that the SNP Government has done in Scotland? I don't think so - but I just hope that enough of us will see through this thin veil, not be fooled by Westminster's betrayal of socialist values and of Scotland, and see off the dogs that rifle through the dustbins of economic downturn, scratching around for bits of meat. And to Scottish Liberal Democrats, I say 'can you really support the pathetic economic efforts of this Westminster government?' 'Can you really support what Broon and Darling would do to Scotland?' Perhaps it is time to join with us and make the Scottish Government a yet more powerful force for change.