By Alex Porter and Dave Taylor

Without the powers of economic independence which the SNP government would dearly love to have, Scotland has no choice but to send the surplus in its national accounts to London and after that endure a £1.3 billion cut in its grant from Westminster to pay for Britain’s escalating budget deficits.

The Scottish government’s budget was always going to be a delicate balancing act. As a minority government the SNP Finance Minister John Swinney had to negotiate with his cabinet colleagues, deliver on his party’s election pledges, achieve a majority vote in Parliament for his budget and keep local government on board with the party’s policy of a Scotland-wide freeze in the council tax.

Set against a backdrop of severe cuts to the Scottish block grant from Westminster, getting a successful budget passed through the Scottish parliament in the final year of the first ever SNP government’s term in office will be a real test of John Swinney’s mettle. It seems that Scotland’s Finance Minister has, against considerable odds, delivered with authority for both his party and the nation.

Throughout the SNP government’s tenure the Labour Party’s strategy has been to portray the SNP government as a failure. To this end the Labour Party have often appeared as an irresponsible opposition by putting their partisan party interests above the interests of the nation. Last week was a case in point when Labour voted down world-class legislation which was minimum pricing of alcohol.

Undermining the SNP’s manifesto pledges has been Labour’s strategy in presenting their adversary’s term in office as one of failure and so attacking the SNP’s policy of freezing the unpopular council tax has become a fixation for the party.

Local Government
One of John Swinney’s first successes as Finance Minister was his concordat with Scotland’s local government councils. In return for agreeing a council tax freeze local councils gained in terms of central government finance and having more freedom over their spending powers. Much of this was achieved with the agreement of the President of COSLA, Labour’s Pat Watters.

This entente cordiale has recently come under threat because of cuts to the Scottish block grant, much of which would have to be passed on to local government. The leader of Labour’s Holyrood group Iain Gray, sensing the demise of an SNP manifesto pledge, came out against continuing the council tax freeze arguing that a rise in the tax take would help offset the cuts.

Labour’s local government leaders led the charge, insisting that they would resist a freeze, and were backed by Labour’s trade-union partners. This opposition suffered a blow however when an opinion poll showed that the council tax freeze was a very popular policy with the Scottish electorate. Iain Gray wobbled, leaving Pat Watters’ negotiating position with Swinney weakened.

Watters indicated that a freeze would be achievable if certain concessions were made by Swinney. First of all Watters forwarded the case that £70 million of extra cash from the government was insufficient - Labour councils are free to raise their council tax but they’d lose that government money if they did. The choice now is to take the Westminster cut of 6.4 per cent and raise council tax to pay for services or keep the freeze and accept a 2.4 per cent cut. Watters turned up to Swinney’s party.

Another condition of accepting the freeze was that the SNP government set a three year budget, however Swinney has remained firm on this by setting a traditional one year budget, which has been accepted.

Some small concessions were made by Swinney in terms of the flexibility councils have with spending and £70 million was allocated  within  Nicola Sturgeon’s health budget to a “Change Fund”.  This fund is accessible by local authorities to redesign services thus, easing the pressure on acute hospital provision.

Ultimately, Swinney had the stronger hand. Watters’ negotiating position wasn’t helped by Iain Gray’s volte face and the SNP will get to keep their manifesto pledge of a council tax freeze going into the Holyrood elections on May 7 next year.

Public Sector Reform
A critical aspect of the budget is the establishment of the Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services, chaired by Campbell Christie which will be a comprehensive review of Scotland’s entire public sector. After generations of Labour control over a public sector created by successive UK Governments on the basis of models developed for England, many will see a process of renaissance as long overdue.

As John Swinney pointed out to Andy Kerr, allocating detailed future budgets to sectors, which might undergo radical change, simply puts obstacles in the way of public sector reform. Naturally, parties who would prefer to see the status quo or yet more ad hoc adjustments would much prefer that these obstacles remain in place.

This is a bold call by the SNP. A balanced budget for 2011-12, together with a drive to restructure Scotland’s public sector to create a modern, efficient Scotland. Regardless of the election results in May, there would be a Spending Review next Autumn for the longer term. The choice would be between an SNP led Government planning for a long term future, or a Labour led Government planning to regain their control over the institutions of the country.

It would indeed be a question of “party over nation”.

Draft Budget 2011-12
Westminster’s cuts are savage. On top of the 3% “efficiency savings” that Westminster has assumed in allocating budgets, there is the continuing reduction in the Barnett formula – in every financial review, even less of Scotland’s money comes back to us.

The SNP propose protecting the NHS Budget, but that has consequences elsewhere. After taking the Westminster “hit” of 3% efficiency savings, other budgets have further reductions –

  • Local Government : -2.6%
  • Crown Office : -5.5%
  • FE& HE : -5.6%
  • First Minister : -5.8%
  • Environment & Rural Affairs : -6.3%
  • Administration : -6.9%
  • Finance : -7.3%
  • Justice : -8.7%

Opposition parties can force some changes as to which departments gain a little, and which others consequently lose more. They can force Scotland to continue with a public sector structure designed for England. They can force Scotland’s economy to comply with the needs of the UK rather than ours.

If we let them.


# Roll_On_2011 2010-11-18 07:35
Once again Alex, congratulations , you and Dave have excelled yourself.

SNP has let down Glasgow, says Gray


Labour leader Iain Gray has accused the SNP Government of letting down Glasgow during its time in office.

He pledged to make Glasgow an economic powerhouse if Labour wins next year's election and said the SNP had "undermined" the city.

His comments came as finance secretary John Swinney prepared to set out his provisional Budget for 2011/12 to Parliament.

"Alex Salmond and the Nationalists don't get Glasgow and the crucial role it plays in Scotland's economy," said Mr Gray. "People will look back on the SNP decision to cut off the pipeline to capital infrastructure projects, which cost the Scottish economy £2billion and 40,000 jobs, as a gross folly.

Labour claim:

"Glasgow is being ripped off the by SNP. They cancelled Glasgow's trains. They've cut money from Glasgow's housing and regeneration."

The background:

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) was initially expected to cost £160 million, yet the latest estimate showed costs spiralling out of control at £395 million. With £500 million being cut this year alone from the Scottish budget, the Scottish Government had to look at their priorities.

Glasgow has 11.5% of Scotland's population. It receives:
30% of all housing and regeneration expenditure
25% of all NHS spending

The truth:

Glasgow gets the best funding per head of any mainland council in Scotland.

After just two years, SNP investment is transforming Glasgow.
Record sums for the city – putting a stop to Labour’s council tax hikes
Record numbers of police on the beat to make local streets safer.
Massive upgrades to the M80 and M74.
New hospitals at Stobhill and the Southern General.
New homes, jobs and facilities to make a success of the Commonwealth Games.

Billions of pounds are being pumped into the city in a massive regeneration drive.

If Labour had not joined the Liberals and Tories to force through the £545 million Edinburgh tram scheme, there would be even more money in the pot.

Work is continuing on the biggest transport investment programme in recent years to improve infrastructure in the Glasgow and West of Scotland are, costing around £2.7 billion.

The SNP has provided £84m to fund new affordable housing through Glasgow City Council allowing the approval of 1,450 new homes during 2008/9, and provided a further £79.3m to support Glasgow Housing Association and an additional 442 new affordable homes.


# sid 2010-11-18 09:21
roll on 2011, yep saw that in the herald on line for about 3 minutes before it mysteriously disappeared A step to far even for the herald??
# chicmac 2010-11-18 13:12
edit double post
# Dougie Douglas 2010-11-18 08:01
Perhaps the SNP, if they 'don't get Glasgow' should do what Labour would do with a constituency that 'don't get them'. Reduce the spend in Glasgow to the average Scottish rate.

The fact that they have maintained Glasgow's special status (required because of decades of Labour inept bungling and corruption) shows that they 'get Glasgow' and are governing all of Scotland on a needs basis.

Complicated isn't it Iain?
# chicmac 2010-11-18 13:10
Quoting Dougie Douglas:
Perhaps the SNP, if they 'don't get Glasgow' should do what Labour would do with a constituency that 'don't get them'. Reduce the spend in Glasgow to the average Scottish rate.

The fact that they have maintained Glasgow's special status (required because of decades of Labour inept bungling and corruption) shows that they 'get Glasgow' and are governing all of Scotland on a needs basis.

Complicated isn't it Iain?

Erm,... because that would be 'wrong'. Simply because that is not a word in Labour's vocabulary does not mean the the nearest thing to a party of principle on these Islands should resort to the same neanderthal tactics.
# robbie 2010-11-18 08:23
Andy Kerr,s contribution was like that of a three year old in a huff, Kerr is a total embarassment to Scotland, how anyone as inept as him can sit in the Scottish parliament whilst earning £80,000 plus per year is quite staggering.

Labour will vote against the budget out of spite and hatred for the SNP as per.
# rodmac 2010-11-18 08:41
I reckon the reason that Labour were so upset about not getting any further than a one year projection, was that they are utterly clueless and are desperately looking for ideas to pinch.
# Fungus 2010-11-18 09:14
Of course wee Glen on Reporting Jockland's special 5 minute budget report had a clip of Fudd spouting his nonsense about 3 year budgets with absolutely no qualification, background or input from any of the other parties.
# rodmac 2010-11-18 09:59
Having just watched last nights Newsnight Scotland ....Apart from them all moaning that it was a one year budget, they really had nothing to go on whatsoever!
Also having watched the budget being delivered by John Swinney yesterday, I have to say that he has done a remarkably competent job with coming up with what he has, considering that he was trying to set a budget with both hands figuratively tied behind his back.

He really has left the others with very little to aim at, without them appearing absolutely ludicrous and incompetent in opposition.
Of course we can absolutely expect Labour to fully fulfil their roles as the class idiots.
# Seagetagrip 2010-11-18 10:06
Good piece by Joan McAlpine on Go Lassie Go. Wish I knew how to set up links. Will ask my boy. Meantime, maybe someone else could oblige?
# rodmac 2010-11-18 10:12
# ubinworryinmasheep 2010-11-18 15:19
Seagetagrip ... to add a link you copy it from address bar of the site you want to link to then do yer wee bit of writing about whatever then leave a line or 2 and hit the wee icon 6 along above the text box and paste your link into that and enter.....
# Jimbo 2010-11-18 10:30
I don't get the gripe from the unionists that Swinney should have brought forward a three year budget. When was that ever done before by a devolved Holyrood government? Scotland was given a years worth of pocket money, much reduced on last years. How can Swinney be expected to presume what the pocket money will be for the next three years?

Anyway, Andy Kerr obviously thinks this is a good budget. Kerr's comment: "He is not running a country - he is running an election campaign." shows that Kerr and Co are so impressed by this budget that they fear people will vote SNP.
# Dougie Douglas 2010-11-18 10:43
Yes, we all crave certainty but these are uncertain times - created largely by Labour.

The focus must be on re-shaping government and public services and driving efficencies.

Swinney's stature has grown massively with his handling of this - well done.
# Legerwood 2010-11-18 16:40
I think they started going on about a 3-4 year budget about a week or so ago when they realiswed that mr Swinney was going to skewer them by producing an excellent budget leaving them with nowhere to go. So they dreamt up this 'criticism'.
# enneffess 2010-11-18 10:53
Quoting Dougie Douglas:
Perhaps the SNP, if they 'don't get Glasgow' should do what Labour would do with a constituency that 'don't get them'. Reduce the spend in Glasgow to the average Scottish rate.

The fact that they have maintained Glasgow's special status (required because of decades of Labour inept bungling and corruption) shows that they 'get Glasgow' and are governing all of Scotland on a needs basis.

Complicated isn't it Iain?

A higher rate of investment per head does not necessarily mean that Glasgow is getting a better deal that the rest of Scotland. Cities do tend to require a greater level of investment, because of a more complex infrastructure.

And why this "let's shaft Glasgow because they voted Labour" approach? It smacks of Westminster Council when Thatcher was in power. Not everyone who lives and works in Glasgow is a Labour supporter, and anyway, the role of Goverment is to support EVERYONE.

We are not going to win over voters with solutions such as yours.


On the budget, I think it's a good one bearing in mind the restrictions placed on Swinney by Westminster. Andy Kerr should consider that had Labour remained in Westminster, we might have had even less money. In fact probably would have had less money.
# hektorsmum 2010-11-18 11:01
I agree but one thing to keep in mind is that how much of the money given to Glasgow actually makes it to the electorate.
We need to play Labours hand to win though in that I agree, but we must stymie their fear, which is what they are trying to engender here in Fife. The Local Paper running stories about the elderly losing help etc. The Problem is that many do not read further than the headlines.
# Dougie Douglas 2010-11-18 11:19

You completely missed my point - I was suggesting that such partisan strategies belonged to Labour, not the SNP.

The SNP have maintained the high level of support that Glasgow enjoys from every other part of Scotland despite there being no political advantage.

They are allocating resource by need (as I stated)
# Vincent McDee 2010-11-18 11:00
The best reaction to the budget so far, comes from oor old friend Mr. Elmmer Fudd Gray.

Yesterday, their pet reporter Tom Pauling copy of a labour PR:

"Mr Kerr was visiting Glasgow’s Easthall Park Housing Co-operative to see new social housing with Iain Gray, his party’s Scottish leader. Mr Gray accused the SNP government of letting Glasgow down and pledged to make it an economic powerhouse if Labour wins the election."

It would be hilarious, if it wasn't so sad.

Gray normally speaks in Klingon, but I think this time he speaks like a megalomaniac Kinglon

Labour did not manage to do that in 50 years of dominion in the West of Scotland
and he will do it next year. Yeah! Sure!
# Robert Louis 2010-11-18 11:02

QUOTE "We are not going to win over voters with solutions such as yours"

And YOUR solution is........?
# rgweir 2010-11-18 11:15
I try to watch as many political progs as i can(sad)but i decided not to watch newsnight scotland last night because i knew what its content would be.
As for the one year budget,this is the only thing that labour are focusing on because there is nothing else for them to have a pop at.
# J Wil 2010-11-18 11:24
You have just got to wonder at the calibre of Labour MSPs and what it would be like with them running the country.

An example was Malcolm Chisholm's question to John Swinney yesterday. He asked if Scotland was getting the correct consequentials from the Barnett formal, claiming that Scotland had been underpaid on some projects which had happened in England. Swinney's one sentence reply had Mr Chisholm looking foolish. He said that Mr Chisholm's caculations were wrong, which suggests that Chisholm does not understand how the system worked.

It was telling on Newsnicht last night that for all the noise being made about wanting a four year budget the opposition leaders all prevaricated and wouldn't give a direct answer as to whether that would bring the budget down. As the man said they are all wind and p**s. They advocate transparency in government, but not for themselves apparently.
# Alx1 2010-11-18 11:42
rgweir & J Wil,

Did you notice on Newsnicht last night that the John Swinney interview was cut quiet abruptly at the end?

I wonder if John Swinney had (if pre recorded) made a statement calling for FFA.
Or if live the BBC had pre-empted he would make such a statement and cut short.
# DouglasDaniel 2010-11-18 12:06
I wouldn't be too harsh on Malcolm Chisholm, particularly as he seems to be just about the one Labour MSP (Henry McLeish being the other) who is capable of seeing past the this-is-an-SNP-idea-it-must-be-bad mentality the rest of his party colleagues suffer from. I didn't see the budget session myself, but from what you're saying, it sounds like Mr Chisholm was merely saying he thought Scotland had been short-changed by the UK Government - makes a change from Labour MSPs telling us we're lucky to get what we do!
# J Wil 2010-11-18 14:24
Well perhaps there are more nuances to the topic than I give him credit for, but it was another attack on SNP competence.

Interesting to see that Brian has given up on having Labour supporting pundits commenting on FMQs. Perhaps it's just a temporary situation.

Some credit to the programme for allowing us to hear the start of FMQs without intervention and more of the questions.
# Jimbo 2010-11-18 11:26
Good article from Joan McAlpine in the Guardian. Usual anti Scottish bile from some of the commenters.
# Suomi 2010-11-18 11:31
Ennefess,I think that Robert Louis statement was "tongue in cheek"I thought that he was actually warning against the stategy of giving less to voters in Labour held constituences and was actually advocating an all Scotland approach.

i take the point that large cities need a lot of investment.however it is also true that the SNP government have not neglected Glasgow.As the first poster shows the facts support the argument that the SNP government are sensitive to the needs of Glasgow and have directed a lot of resources in Glagows direction.

Robert asks ,what is the solution? I suppose he means how does the SNP overcome the Labour spin that they have neglected Glasgow? No easy answers but I would suggest that one way of winning votes there is for people to observe improvements such as a frozen council tax,more police on the beat,lower crime rates,new hospitals,more housing,more jobs and improved infrastructure.The SNP government,unde r very difficult circumstances have made progress in those areas.These facts do challenge the labour spin and rhetoric,in spite of an unbalanced media.I would also suggest that SNP members talk to as many people as possible,but be respectfull to people who do not agrree with you.Remember that todays unionist is often tomorrows supporter of independance.I would also suggest that SNP members in Glasgow focus on winning as many votes as possible.Two reasons why that is important:
1) It builds a future base for winning a constituency which is unwinnable today.
2) An increased vote in each constituency adds to the percentage of the national vote gained by the SNP,and that adds to their credability.It also has the effect of increasing their membership.
# DouglasDaniel 2010-11-18 11:56
While I wouldn't condone a "let's shaft Glasgow to punish them for voting Labour" approach, it's interesting to contemplate whether an attempt to balance out the per-head spending across the country would be a vote-winner in the North, East and South. Certainly, in Aberdeen it has always seemed like the North-East is largely ignored - Glasgow has seen motorway expansion on the M74 and M80 and also had the GARL project scheduled at one point (okay it was later cancelled, but only because of lack of funds), as well as the masses of regeneration funding they'll get for the Commonwealth Games; meanwhile, Aberdeen is still waiting for the Western Peripheral bypass to be started (10 years ago would have been nice) and I can't really think of any major government-funded projects we've had since devolution. But even worse than that is the fact that the A9 is still such a treacherous road - it baffles me that in the 21st century, we still have single-lane carriageways acting as major roads. A9 improvements should have come before any other road-building projects after devolution. It makes you wonder: do the Highlands not vote for Labour because they feel they've been neglected; or did Labour always ignore the Highlands because they didn't vote for them?

It's not like Labour can really make much more gains in Glasgow and the surrounding areas - so would a genuine pro-the-rest-of-Scotland approach lead to a big enough increase in votes everywhere else to make such an approach worth it?
# J Wil 2010-11-18 14:28
"Why should Glasgow get exceptional treatment", I can hear the rest of the country muttering.
# Dubbieside 2010-11-18 12:17
Continuing on the the theme of the main stream media trying to paint everything the SNP do as bad, there was this gem in The Herald this morning.

Writing about financing capitol projects,

That they will be financed using the Non Profit Distributing (NPD) model, a less costly version of Public Private Partnerships, is a neat sleight of hand given the SNP’s rejection of PPP.

Though repayments using NPD will have to be made, they will not be as hefty as they would have been under PPP and they are not expected to kick in until the economy is in better shape.

So according to Brian Currie, using something that is better, with lower interest payments, and starting repayments later is "neat sleight of hand"

I could say "you could not make this up" but then the MSM usually do.
# westie7 2010-11-18 12:42
Following the pitch of both Douglas and Brians latest blogs I felt urged to write the following which was up for an hour and a half then modded,

"From what you and your pal Douglas, over on the other page, have contrived to drivel in your intro... You lot must be really bricking it at the thought of the SNP for another term, and if the majority is increased, you'll need a cork. The last time the press unleashed the verbal artillery on a party it didnt like was when Kinnock got it in the neck. bet youre all delighted in the fact no other paper or channel is even close to showing up the BBC"

Thats me modded for the first time,
Nerve well and truly hit
# westie7 2010-11-18 14:07
Just received an answer to my complaint about being moderated, Aparently "Contrived to Drivel" - "Offended the Host"

# RTP 2010-11-18 12:48
Have been off visiting family in South Africa for a month just back yesterday,liste ned to News-night last night,FMQs today,nothing has changed,slag off the SNP no policy's coming from the Unionist crowd,does BT not have a "guest" on after FMQs now.Has Duncan McNeil ever given an apology to homeschooling yet,must go back to see what I have missed.
Editor,I did promote Newsnet Scotland when on holiday.
# Seagetagrip 2010-11-18 12:53
I just got modded after a few hours for daring to mention Joan McAlpine and Go Lassie Go ln Brians blog.
Undaunted, I have tried again mentioning her in terms of the Hootsman and the Gurdian.
I realise I lose anonymity in this blog but it is not for the want of trying to change things.
# Jimmy The Pict 2010-11-18 13:04
No. 47 is still there.
# chicmac 2010-11-18 13:18
Another thing often 'forgotten' in the MSM is the fact that the SNP Government cancelled Edinburgh's EARL project first within a year of taking power.

But then that does not sit well with the long in the making, lovingly crafted seige mentality Labour have nurtured in Glasgow.
# robbie 2010-11-18 13:35
I see that Elmer Fudd decided to waste another FMQ,s by offering nothing but infantile insults directed at A.Salmond.

Hapless Gray really is an embarrassing little labour poodle.
# GrassyKnollington 2010-11-18 14:22
Had to laugh at Elmer's face on Ch 4 News last night when his remarks instead of being received in the usual nodding dog/respectful silence mode were questioned by the London based reporter.

These guys don't know about the tacit understanding that Labour gets a free rein to say what it likes in Scotland so there they go blundering around asking probing questions from people who're used to a nod and a wink and no interruptions or scrutiny of their Labour Party sound bites.

The Fuddster looked dismayed.
# Legerwood 2010-11-18 16:49
I saw it as well and it was so obvious that if Mr Gray is ever subjected to questioning by the likes of Jon Snow or, like last night, Garry Gibbons, he would come unstuck within the first 30 sec. I think it was also clear that Mr Gibbons had sussed that asking Mr Gray any further questions would be a waste of his time.

Joan McAlpine has a good link within her blog today to an article by Peter Curran on the poor quality of interviewing by those on Newsnight Scotland etc. Watching Newsnight Scotland last night just underlined everything he says in the blog.

Peter Curran's blog here:
# ubinworryinmasheep 2010-11-18 20:44
I think the poodle is gettin put down January /February. The protesting at his own policy yesterday was a major embarrassment and wont have been missed by his boss in London despite what he was trying to achieve.
# km 2010-11-19 06:26
Been watching Gray a few times at FMQ. He really is purile, not even an attempt to ask a serious question, and as Robbie says, a waste of an FMQ.

I reckon there has to come a point where Alex Salmond just looks across the chamber and says, "Come on son, taxpayers are paying your salary. Surely you can do a bit better than this?"
# Vronsky 2010-11-18 14:18
"Record numbers of police on the beat to make local streets safer."

Have you any evidence of a correlation between police numbers and public safety? In the obvious extreme, a society with no police is unsafe - but isn't there a boundary point where there is no further correlation between police numbers and public safety? This suff about police numbers always gets me a bit ratted - it looks like policy made by tabloid paranoia. We need a more thoughtful and objectively informed line on policing.
# Mad Jock McMad 2010-11-18 15:43
Vronsky - I live in the least crime riven area of Scotland - even speeding tickets fell last year - so you could argue that Dumf and Galloway need less police on the beat yet I would argue that our local police are better respected as (a) they are usually locals and (b) they actually have time to listen to local concerns and worries.

Now chicken and egg question: Does Dumfries and Galloway have low crime stats because we are, per head, less inclined to crime or because of the local bobbies high profile tends to keep the local criminal element in better check through feedback from the public they chat to as they walk round?

Vandalism still happens but, as in the case of the local graveyard, it took less than 48 hours to identify and arrest the culprits. The local community is raising the funds to have the grave stones repaired. Some £40,000 needs to be raised as we realise that the criminals will never be made to pay for the damage and will end up with an extra three years in HMP Dumfries on top of the part they did not serve through early release.

Fine - but why were both these 20+year old's functionally illiterate and innumerate?
# rgweir 2010-11-18 15:24
I have always been wary of pre-recorded interviews on newsnight as they can be cut and sliced too easily.
I know it is on late at night but i think it would be better for the govt to insist on live interviews as that would ensure that they were not being edited in any way..
# rodmac 2010-11-18 15:28
After watching todays FMQs, considering how heated it got, I think the Election campaign is now under full steam.
I fully expect this to be the dirtiest election we have seen fought, with the Unionists and their tame Media all ganging up on the SNP at every opportunity.
All the SNP are going to have to be at the top of their game from now on in.
Even though most of the opposition are fairly useless, it will only take one or two mistakes to have the whole lot crashing down on them.
It is up to those who support this Scottish Government to make every conceivable effort that they can to argue on blogs, newspaper comments,and also in general get cracking in convincing everyone they know of the importance of not voting for the Unionist parties if this country is not going to go to the dogs after May.
# rgweir 2010-11-18 15:29
Does anyone know the details of the david maddo story on holyrood getting powers to move their elections 6 months either way?
# Robert Louis 2010-11-18 16:35
On the SNP site - not sure if it helps.
# Bugger the Panda 2010-11-18 15:39
I have just had this e-mail from the 38 Degree team following an e-mail I sent to Johnny

It seems we are bad boys with a "political" axe to grind, being supportive of the SNP and maybe even members of the same, although I am not.

So there, causes supported but only if they are not political?

Dear BtP

Thank you for getting in touch about the issue of media bias in Scotland. We have seen this campaign idea growing on the suggestions page, and we're thinking about what the next steps should be.

As a member-driven organisation, it is very important to understand what 38 Degree members want to do. The suggestions forum is just one of many places where we take suggestions - we also regularly survey our members, read what's happening on our Facebook page and blog, and field suggestions by email and phone.

In the case of this particular campaign suggestion, clearly several hundred people who have visited the uservoice space are in favour of a campaign against "BBC bias", making it currently the most popular suggestion on that forum. However, last year over 80% of 38 Degrees members voted in favour of a campaign to "stand up for the BBC", and since then over 90,000 38 Degrees members have taken part in this campaign.

There appears possibly to be a difference of opinion between people using the 38 Degrees uservoice space, and the wider 38 Degrees community. In the next few weeks we will survey our members in other ways to find out whether this genuinely is a campaign which they would like 38 Degrees to run.

It is possible that this apparent contradiction between what is being suggested on uservoice and what our members have wanted to do previously may have arisen because uservoice is open to anyone, not just 38 Degrees members. In this particular case the suggestion has been promoted widely on some other websites, particularly Newsnet
Scotland and The Universality of Cheese. We've updated the text on the uservoice forum to discourage members from promoting campaign suggestions on other sites - we can see why this feels tempting, but it just makes it harder to tell what 38 Degrees members think and so diminishes the value of uservoice as a tool.

It's also worth noting that Newsnet Scotland describes itself "supporting independence and endorsing the Scottish National Party" whilst the Universality of Cheese is written by a former SNP staff member. Many Scottish 38 Degrees members support the SNP, but many others support other parties or none at all. 38 Degrees is strictly independent of all political parties, and in considering this campaign suggestion we will also need to evaluate whether it is driven by a party political perspective.

So currently, no decision has been taken as to whether or not to run this campaign. We're continuing to ask members what they think. In the meantime, do let us know if you have any other suggestions on this or any other campaign.

Best wishes,

Sophie and the 38 Degrees team
# Robert Louis 2010-11-18 16:41
Where does it say on Newsnet Scotland that "Newsnet Scotland endorses the SNP"

The E-mail above gives it as a quote, but I cannot recall seeing it on this site. Some independence supporters here are from other parties.
# bmc875 2010-11-18 20:07
From 'About Us'

We are aligned to no political party and take direction from no-one. Although supporting independence and endorsing the Scottish National Party the team are not members nor have ever been members. Indeed the Online Editor is a former long time supporter of Labour.
# Robert Louis 2010-11-18 22:03
oh, OK.
# rodmac 2010-11-18 15:53
I think somebody needs to tell Sophie that Newsnetscotland whilst supporting Independence or full fiscal autonomy, in no place does it support any given political party!!! Like 38degrees, there are members who do support the SNP, but there are members who also support otgher political parties.
It seems to me, that 38degrees is running scared. The same applies with regards to the Cornish appeal.
# Training Day 2010-11-18 15:55
Perhpas 38 Degrees might be more receptive to a campaign suggestion to evict Katie from X Factor or to have the amount of chocolate on Hob-Nobs increased. That seems to be about the level of this fearless organisation.

# Whatsinaname 2010-11-18 16:20
"38 Degrees brings you together with other people to take action on the issues that matter to you and bring about real change"

Think someone needs to tell Sophie and Johnny that there are some of us outside middle England who think that the bias in reporting of the BBC in SCOTLAND does matter to us although it would not be of interest to those outside their broadcast area.

As for the other campaign to protect the BBC from political influence 38 degrees seem to be happy to fight against Tory and Murdoch influence but not the influence of Labour, maybe they are not as neutral as they would like us to believe.

From the campaign they are happy to run:

“The Conservatives don’t like the BBC and are strongly influenced by Rupert Murdoch, who wants to see it cut. But they know that the BBC has popular support. They’ll be watching the public reaction this week to judge how much BBC-bashing they can get away with.

If the Culture Secretary’s threats pass without a fuss, the government will take that as a signal that they can press on. But if we respond quickly with thousands of emails to our MPs saying “hands off our BBC”, we’ll make them realise that cuts to the BBC will cause a big political storm.”
# Robert Louis 2010-11-18 16:28
I have a question for 38 degrees; are the majority of its members in England??

If so, they will clearly feel little affinity with this issue - as it is percieved as being a 'Scottish' issue. If that is the case, then that would be a shame. The other reason, is that many people in England have virtually NO understanding of Scottish politics. We all know the kind of xenophobic nonsense that is churned out in the media in England regarding Scottish politics by the likes of Baroness Deech and Douglas Murray - courtesy of the BBC.

Having said that, the campaigners at 38 degrees need to be aware, that state funded media bias is an incestuous beast. If it can happen in Scotland, it can just as easily rear its ugly head in England.

Oh, and maybe 38 degrees are unaware, that there are several Scottish political parties in favour of Scottish independence. These include the Green Party, the Scottish Socialist Party, and the Scottish Democratic Alliance.

Some of the contributors to this site, are from those other parties.

This is NOT just about the SNP, as the current Scottish Government.

Media bias is media bias, no matter what form it takes. It cannot be allowed by a state funded broadcaster in a democracy.
# 1scot 2010-11-18 18:55
Quoting Robert Louis:
I have a question for 38 degrees; are the majority of its members in England??

If so, they will clearly feel little affinity with this issue - as it is percieved as being a 'Scottish' issue. If that is the case, then that would be a shame. The other reason, is that many people in England have virtually NO understanding of Scottish politics. We all know the kind of xenophobic nonsense that is churned out in the media in England regarding Scottish politics by the likes of Baroness Deech and Douglas Murray - courtesy of the BBC.

Having said that, the campaigners at 38 degrees need to be aware, that state funded media bias is an incestuous beast. If it can happen in Scotland, it can just as easily rear its ugly head in England.

Oh, and maybe 38 degrees are unaware, that there are several Scottish political parties in favour of Scottish independence. These include the Green Party, the Scottish Socialist Party, and the Scottish Democratic Alliance.

Some of the contributors to this site, are from those other parties.

This is NOT just about the SNP, as the current Scottish Government.

Media bias is media bias, no matter what form it takes. It cannot be allowed by a state funded broadcaster in a democracy.

Robert, you are correct media bias is media bias. I received a similar mail from Johnny Chatterton.
The first response I got from 38 Degrees was that Scotland was off there radar, as they were in London covering the Asian music awards.
I am going to keep pressing though. I also told them that if the BBC changed it's ways, they would get plenty of votes to support the BBC.
# Suomi 2010-11-18 17:01
Havin g just listened to John Swinneys budget speach,I must say that he is one of the most skilled and intelligent politicians that Scotland has produced.I also listened to Ian Grays perception of the budget during First MinistersQuesti ons today.His description bore no relationship to the content of John Swinneys speech.

It is sad really to see a once great party showing no leadership no ideas,or ability to listen to the Scottish voters.I get the impression that Labour have no idea about how to be an opposition.They seem to rely on rhetoric,unexam ined conclusions and distortion of reality.If Ian Gray really believes what he said today at FM questions,a once great party are in big trouble,irrespe ctive of whether they win or loose the next election.
# west_lothian_questioner 2010-11-18 18:53
The real problem there is that if they DO win next May's election, we're ALL in big trouble.
# Crazyhill 2010-11-18 19:42
Quoting west_lothian_qu estioner:
The real problem there is that if they DO win next May's election, we're ALL in big trouble.

Fudd, Kerr and Baillie - God have mercy on Scotland! Perhaps I should rearrange them as acronymically put that's FKB, which might bring accusations of sectarianism; which used to be Scotland's secret shame - acording to Jack the Skirt. Scotland's shame is now Scottish Labour. Scotland's Disgrace would be to let them anywhere near the handles of government (or will it revert to executive) in Scotland!
# rodmac 2010-11-18 17:11
It might be a suggestion to ask folk not of an independent mind to tune into FMQs at Democracy Live on a few occasions, then ask them to compare and contrast what they have seen and heard with their own eyes and ears, to that which is subsequently reported by the BBC and the Press.

No need to say anything further after that, I would suggest. The evidence will have been right there in front of them.
# Old Smokey 2010-11-18 17:22
You dont even have to go to the BBC's so called Democracy Live (which apparently cut a chunk out of FMQ's this week)
FMQ's both live and archived is readily available to all at the Parliaments own internet broadcast website which is more comprehensive in its coverage of all that goes on
# rodmac 2010-11-18 17:42
Having watched it Live, I wasn't aware that they subsequently cut some later. In which case your suggestion is the better option.
# Holebender 2010-11-18 17:51
Indeed. Anything run by the BBC is automatically suspect. I regard them as guilty unless proven otherwise these days, and they have only themselves to blame.
# J Wil 2010-11-18 19:58
Brian's BBC Scotland transmission of FMQs never shows the full question session. You have to watch the Parliament channel to get that. Many of the interesting questions are towards the end. It can be seen on Saturday morning and at some other times as well.
# ubinworryinmasheep 2010-11-18 20:53
I did that today on my facebook profile. Just asked freinds who i know think all politicians are the same to watch it and make up their own minds. Today was a good one as Alex was well on form. The hypocrisy of some of the questioners was very blatant.
# bigskelf 2010-11-18 17:37
perhaps we need a wee website with "before and after" style videos. The uncut version followed by the BBC version.
# f1r3m4n 2010-11-18 18:34
After hearing Elmer Fudds quote at fmq about Alex Salmond being a cowardly lion will the corridors of holyrood echo with Elmers mumblings of I'm gonna get that pesky wabbit and the wion too.
# robbie 2010-11-18 19:06
Iain Gray ia a political munchkin.
# Crazyhill 2010-11-18 19:44
Which is a bit unfair on Munchkins!
# rodmac 2010-11-18 19:46
I think Alex missed a golden opportunity to call him the Straw Man, flip flopping all over the place without a brain in his head!!
# enneffess 2010-11-19 00:50
That is totally unfair to straw people everywhere.......
# J Wil 2010-11-18 19:54
The BBC Scotland reported explosion from the Bonnie Banks was hyped up considerably by their babbling reporter David on the 6:30 news tonight. It's a regular occurance with this guy who always gives the impression he is talking to children. When are the bosses going to realise that his presentational skills are only fit for telling stories on Jackanory. I say bring back Bob. At least he added a touch of humour and encouraged me to tune in.
# enneffess 2010-11-18 20:06
Quoting Robert Louis:

QUOTE "We are not going to win over voters with solutions such as yours"

And YOUR solution is........?

It certainly would not be reducing the spending, rather monitoring and auditing precisely where every penny goes, then ask for explanations afterwards - in public.
# Robert Louis 2010-11-18 21:57
I agree with much of what you say, however, I don't think Dougie was seriously suggesting reducing funding to Glasgow.

I do not doubt there is a lot of very wasteful 'fat' that can be easily removed in Glasgow without damaging services, but would those in charge from Labour be willing to do so? Probably not.

Right now, based upon all they have said and done in recent months, I think Labour would happily bankrupt Scotland, if it meant they could score 'points' against the SNP. In the parliament, Labour recently showed they would willingly betray their own constituents regarding alcohol abuse, than ever reach a consensus with others in the Scottish parliament.

Labour have shown themselves to be both immature and irresponsible even on very serious matters, so I really would not expect them to treat the money they are given for Glasgow with any common sense.

Whilst auditing every penny is something most would agree with, the reality in practise, is that you reach a point where the penny counting is more expensive than the money saved.
# enneffess 2010-11-19 00:46
Plenty of wasteful fat in one certain group of councillors......

Auditing can be cost-effective. I'm an auditor, but not of the accounting type, rather process auditing - checking procedures are followed, identifying problems etc etc. I would love to get my teeth into a council.
# rgweir 2010-11-18 20:24
I would bet that if labour do win in may they will make the change from government to executive.
# Robert Louis 2010-11-18 21:58
Absolutely. The irony is, such a move will be heartily cheered by the Tories.
# J Wil 2010-11-19 09:46
It will demonstrate once again that unionist politics in Scotland is being driven not for the general wellbeing of Scots, but by attempts to weaken nationalism.
# robbie 2010-11-18 20:46
Yes, they will follow their London masters orders like the pathetic spineless obedient servants they are.
# colin8652 2010-11-18 21:55
Did any one know we were having to pay a levy to London so that we could tax ourselves more. Incredible, Well done Mr Swinney on not paying HMRC the £7m. it stuffs labour good and proper should they bribe their way to a victory in may.
# rodmac 2010-11-18 22:08
I just read that over at BWB, so its good for something!!!
I knew that they had let the tax variation lapse, but I never knew that we had to pay for having the option. Well done, John Swinney!!!
# J Wil 2010-11-18 23:47
The interesting thing that has emerged from this is that Scotland will have even more to pay HMRC when Calman is implemented (or even before it is implemented). The subject has never even been broached in any discussions I've heard.

Gordon Brewer quickly dismissed the topic from the discussion on Newsnicht. He was too keen not to give any credence to the story and to stay on his attack on the SNP. Bad boys that they are, not paying their way.

If the HMRC are that keen to get their money they could persuade the Scottish Secretary pay the renewables money that it owes Scotland and take a small deduction for services rendered.

There are similar implications for the SNP's local income tax, which HMRC said they wouldn't implement. Who is running the show here?
# oldnat 2010-11-18 23:53
"If the HMRC are that keen to get their money they could persuade the Scottish Secretary pay the renewables money that it owes Scotland and take a small deduction for services rendered."

Even easier. The SoS for Scotland already top slices the Scottish Block Grant to pay for the Scotland Office. He could easily have taken the £7m for HMRC first as well - but this is just playing politics from an LD party in dire straits in Scotland.
# Old Smokey 2010-11-19 01:44
The usual suspects on STV last night's Politics Now were quick to attack the SNP on this story, making out that it was an embaressment to John Swinney an that there could be a vote of confidence (that was from Angus MacLeod of the Times) also an Eddie Barnes piece in the Scotsman
# cjmasta 2010-11-19 00:27
I think with regards to the 38 degrees campaign someone has to write a very carefully worded letter explaining away their reservations and try to foresee and counter any reply which they may come back with which could go against our just cause.
# enneffess 2010-11-19 00:48
I am hoping for two things to happen in May - SNP get a majority, and George Galloway to gain a seat. While I cannot stand him, nor most of his policies, he will show just how weak and ineffective Labour have become up in Scotland.

Galloway has no love for either Labour or the SNP, so it could be an interesting event come FMQs.
# oldnat 2010-11-19 00:51
Given the collapse of the LD vote, it's entirely possible that he would get their seat in Glasgow.

We share an opinion of Galloway, but he would be the first real challenge to Salmond (which he would enjoy) or a devastating humiliation of Gray, if Labour win.
# GrassyKnollington 2010-11-19 09:15
George is a Pussy Cat.
# Puskas 2010-11-19 11:41
Dear members..

I would be grateful If anyone could give me a run down on Andy Kerr's claims in expenses .

I am trying to create a dosier on this clown....

McDonald's Burgers, Freebies he never declared and garden work he was found out.
Quite important this info would be to myself... He is an eejit as we all know as the press..

Please help..

Puskas EK.
# robbie 2010-11-20 10:37
Bacicaly every thing ( never had a real job) Andy Kerr owns was paid for by the tax payer.
# Gill 2010-11-20 00:35
I had to buy a paper this morning and had a hard choice as I had already read the Courier online and as much of the Scotsman. I made the choice of choosing the Times.
What a bastard of a newspaper
SNP accused and the SNP lied usual shit and then have this shit backed up in different style shit.
If anyone wants me to verify this statement, I have the newspaper here. Hurry as we have a wood/paper burning stove.
# robbie 2010-11-20 10:57
expenses ,2009

Aileen Campbell, SNP (South of Scotland) £13,858.25; Linda Fabiani, SNP (Central Scotland) £13,983.94; Karen Gillon, Labour (Clydesdale) £16,874.91 Tom McCabe, Labour (Hamilton South) £14,118.79; Jack McConnell, Labour (Motherwell and Wishaw) £22,582.49; Michael McMahon, Labour (Hamilton North and Bellshill) £19,879.13; Margaret Mitchell, Conservative (Central Scotland) £19, 514.52; Alex Neil, SNP (Central Scotland) £22,729.22; Hugh O’Donnell, Liberal Democrat (Central Scotland) £15,635.88 and John Wilson, SNP (Central Scotland) £10,054.42.

# enneffess 2010-11-20 17:54
Alex "Do you expect me to live in a caravan" Neil isn't too far behind.

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