Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Chancellor George Osborne promised in an election pledge that Scotland would not face a budget cut this year because spending commitments were already set. That was part and parcel of the supposed respect agenda.
However, it has now been announced that as part of the £6 billion cuts announced by Osborne, Scotland’s share amounting to £332 millions was only in actual fact being deferred.
It is claimed that implied in the original pledge, was that any reduction not implemented this year would be borne next year. But it wasn’t exactly made clear was it?
Why not just say you can defer your cuts this year under a Tory Government but there will be double next year? Not that difficult is it? But then maybe the Scots would not have voted for the Tories in their ludicrous aspiration to gain twelve seats in Scotland. That proved no more than illusionary. And so now the wheels can start to fall off the respect agenda before it is even out of the garage.
It is now being spun that SNP’s Finance Secretary John Swinney has the choice of whether or not to implementing the cuts now or defer them till next year. It seems that John suspected all along that respect was not what was on the agenda and has in fact wisely allowed for the cuts next year.
Swinney believes he is trying to prevent a worse economic decline than is faced elsewhere in the UK.
The position adopted prior to the election by both the Labour and the Lib Dems was of course something very similar. That was naturally before Nick Clegg’s financial epiphany concerning the terrible state of Greece and the Euro, that he was unaware of 2 weeks ago. And that have caused him to do a volte face and swallow Conservative doctrine in one huge gulp and then regurgitate it as "New Politics"®.
But with no serious upturn in the world economy in sight, there is no escaping the fact that cuts not made this year will have to be made next.
So why doesn’t John want to face the pain right now? Could it be that he thinks the SNP won’t be in government next year and bad news can be blamed on the incomers? That is a bit disingenuous is it not, after all John might very well be in power next year. And if he is not it will be Labour and their policy if I remember correctly was to defer the cuts as well. (As was the Lib Dems.)
Is Osborne really sticking by a promise that spending cuts would not apply to Scotland because it had already set its budget. That promise would only have a value of about eight months anyway because early next year the Scottish Government will have to set its budget for 2011-12.
Yes he did make it clear that there would be no cuts this year. But he did not make it clear that there would be twice the cuts next year, or if he did I didn’t hear it.
Good old respect!