Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Budget - early chat

Massive day in the Scottish Parliament. With the stage 3 debate - and vote on the budget to come at 5pm - the First Minister has stated quite categorically that if the budget falls he, and his team, will resign with immediate effect, leaving Scotland without a government.

His actions emphasise - as if it were required - the seriousness of today's vote. Passing the budget will allow the negotiated Council Tax Freeze to proceed. It will allow business rates to be reduced and the phased reduction (and removal) of prescription charges. It will do so much for the people of Scotland. If it falls, none of these things will be achieved.

Brinkmanship? Yes, a little. But making the point. A vote against the budget is a vote against improving the lives of some of Scotland's most vulnerable people.

But I suspect it won't come to that. Sources suggest that although Labour remain set against it - and probably will vote against it - the Lib Dems look like they will abstain. If they do, the government would only require the Conservatives to vote with them. Which, after prolonged negotiations, they look to have achieved.

Interesting times ahead...

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