Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Tense times at Holyrood

Will the Scottish Government survive the budget vote today?

There's only one game in Edinburgh town today, and that's the Scottish budget. Appears to be on a bit of a knife-edge... just like last year.

Here's my take on it.

Obviously (barring any slips of fingers) the SNP MSPs will vote for the budget. That's 47 votes in the bank. And I think that the Tories, despite playing coy with it, have probably secured enough in the way of concessions (and probably much more than they would have done had the negotiations been with a Labour Finance Secretary - which they will no doubt realise). Their 16 votes will also probably go with the budget. That makes... 63.

Here's the problem. The Lib Dems are... probably certain to vote against it. Which makes it 63-16. And with the mess that Labour made for themselves by abstaining last year, they will probably end up voting against the proposals. Which makes it an ever so tight 63-62 with three votes (Greens and Margo) to go.

I'd suggest, despite not being an easy woman to please, John Swinney has sweetened the deal somewhat for Margo MacDonald, giving her all the money she wants for Edinburgh (and some for Glasgow too!). Her vote would make it 64-62 in favour.

And then there are the two Green votes. According to James, their votes are in no way locked down. And I don't think they will be. Partick Harvie has made it quite clear that there are a lot of things in the budget that the Greens don't like - certainly enough to vote against it.

And indeed, were they to vote against (making it a 64-64 tie) the Presiding Officer should vote with the status quo - that is against the budget (as Stephen notes).

But I remember the stage one process this time last year. The vote at that time was 64-62, with the Greens getting enough from the Government and abstaining.

What money the same vote again? I wouldn't be surprised if, with all the through-the-night negotiations going on, the Greens have been given something - not the £100m per year scheme that they wanted, but something - to let them abstain from voting.

I guess we're about to see how well (or otherwise) John Swinney and others have played their hand...


Yousuf Hamid 28 January 2009 at 10:00  

It's going to be very interesting! I'm loving the new template by the way!

Malc 28 January 2009 at 10:16  

It will be. I remember watching it last year from inside. Tense excitement - they knew they had it about 15 mins before the vote but couldn't quite believe it. This year, I think it is much tighter.

And thanks... it took ages!

Sam 28 January 2009 at 20:04  

Tense? I can exclusively reveal...drumroll please... not passed!

Wow, that's up to date political reporting if I say so myself. (I do).

However, I may have missed the significance. What next? It gets resubmitted with an extra few million tacked on for some waverers pet project? Ahhh democracy...

Malc 28 January 2009 at 21:05  

Sam - your analysis is probably about right. I'll add a bit more around the edges tomorrow though... watching the footie just now.

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