Get Real

Looks to me as if the SNP is making a profound mistake in chasing after a Labour policy as flimsy as it is opportunistic. Labour will never have to enact the restoration of tax credit cuts and have devised it purely as a political gambit. It is uncosted and unprincipled and unaffordable without changing priorities on which the government was elected.

The idea that this Labour Party is dedicated to helping the poor is disproved by their MPs abstaining on cuts at Westminster, even under their apparently left-wing new leadership. One of the champions of the ploy shoved to the front by Labour is Jackie Baillie who still puts the enormous cost of nuclear weapons ahead of paying for poverty. And, as every Yes voter knows, if you campaigned with the Tories it was to ensure the British system carried on allowing right-wing un-Scottish governments to damage the vulnerable. Whatever difficulties a Scottish budget would have faced after a Yes vote, we know for damned sure our own government would never deliberately set out to impoverish the people as the Conservative zealots are doing in London.

To argue that there is no option but to commit to restore all losses is as ludicrous as it is dishonest. There is no way Scotland can continue to do little more than ameliorate Westminster cuts as they are lined up to hit in wave after wave. The government’s job is to run the country for all and in the interests of the majority. As soon as it champions one sector over another that principle is compromised and whose services have to be reduced to play the new Unionist game? Our health service, the one the same Unionists contrive to criticise? The schools they say underperform? Kezia has already spent the Air Passenger Duty money once already. (That’s the money that doesn’t actually exist). The success of the SNP is in offering enough to everyone while pointing out our unfulfilled potential closed off by Union. Do the majority of Scots now accept instead that all along Holyrood’s job was to be the agent of Westminster and to dutifully clear up the mess they deliberately make? Is devolved democracy really reduced to being the binmen of Britain, clearing up the Unionists’ shit?

I have no doubt that on a human level Labour politicians care as much about the have-nots as anybody else but does anybody suggest seriously that this policy is anything to do with solving the problem of poverty rather than a desperate last throw of the dice to make impact before next May? Could it be more transparent? Are we really expected to believe that the same people who cheered supermarkets warning of higher prices on the shelf or applauded banks threatening to leave or stomped in delight when a Tory Chancellor said it was his currency not Scotland’s…are we really expected to believe they now put poverty at the forefront of all policy options? Is that what they were doing in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire all those decades of total Labour rule – transforming them into upmarket, thrusting model communities via comprehensive anti poverty programmes? Is that why Unionists still delight in reminding us of the oil price when thousands have lost their income?

We need to remind them that we are in this mess because they worked their scrawny behinds off to save a Britain in which the Tories can operate like rapacious robber barons. This is what Labour wanted. Sure, they prefer their own people in power but they also knew the inevitable truth, that Tories hold sway more often than they do and that Cameron was leading a more neo-con outfit than even Thatcher. By incompetence and corruption Labour are now in the kind of shambles that might mean a Tory government for 20 years. At what point do we stand up to being bullied by them and stop paying them off?

Is there no price we won’t pay? If Labour believed in social justice why did they – and why do they – still put Union before all else?

We are told now by the experts that we will simply have to put up taxes. The Tories have laid the plot, Labour have bitten and, to avoid the wrath of the voters, the SNP must follow. Our entire agenda is manipulated by London Tories who whip Labour into line. Put up taxes, let the Scottish Tories (who will never have to enact anything) to pose as tax cutters and pick up some votes. As the new darling of the Scottish Right, Adam Tomkins, said: put your money where your mouth is. The Tories will brutalise the low paid and you socialists in Scotland can cough up to pay the bill, losing the SNP votes. That is the way our country is governed and now Labour are yet again aiding and abetting their political soul mates…because their real enemy is the SNP, not the Tories, and they will use the poor of Scotland as a weapon against them.

I hear the commentariat on their overblown incomes bragging that they would pay a little more. How charitable. For many more in Scotland that is not a option on limited salaries which haven’t risen above inflation since 2008.

We are already reduced to a society where people need help from foodbanks to eat. How low can we get before there really is a fightback? The first challenge is to stop these cuts going ahead, not opening up divisions in Scotland. Making it known you plan to cover the losses in advance makes it easier for Osborne. The Tories are already under severe pressure which can be maintained through unity at Westminster and support for government rebels. Presenting a united front would drive home the message to the Lords and to the government. If Labour’s plan is serious then let’s see the detail and soon. Then the SNP and Labour can jointly look at a campaign against the cuts and on ameliorating their impact if they can’t be stopped. Maybe they can agree on the areas where the cuts will be made or even a tax rise. Then they can confront the Tories together. But do you think that’s likely? I don’t, because I don’t think Labour are serious and I don’t think their costings, if there ever are any, will stand up to scrutiny. As I say, this isn’t an anti-poverty social justice issue, it is a rescue-Labour-from-electoral-disaster issue.

I say let them have the ground. Who believes they are serious about helping the poor? Who cares if a few extra votes are swung their way? The cautious good intentions of John Swinney make more sense to me and, I suspect, to most voters who can see through yet another Labour illusion. The SNP’s strong lure lies in the voters’ belief that they will do the best they can for all. They don’t make never-never promises the public can see through. They shouldn’t start now.

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35 thoughts on “Get Real

  1. You’re on flier with this one Mr Bateman, all the vim and uncensored vigour of a piece written late in the day after a few glasses of red, that’s not to say you aren’t right, just that your spleen is more to the fore than usual. I watched FMQs on Thursday and saw the same attitude and venom deployed with surgical precision by Nicola Sturgeon, especially in her skewering of Baroness Goldie and the fatuous Baillie. NS played a straight bat, ‘work together to fight the Tories and stop the cuts before they begin. If not possible to stop then bring forward costed and precise support to mitigate the damage.’ Baillie was called out for game playing and Trident but she rightly noted NS gave an answer that was ‘careful’ and afforded the SG flexibility around the playground Yes or No demanded by Labour. I don’t know what the vast majority of people in the old Labour heartlands of Scotland think anymore. What they read to get their info or how much attention they pay to MSM. I get the impression that WoS, yourself and others play a part so I’m hopeful they see beyond the bullshit being shovelled by KD. I’m now middle-aged and by most standards middle-class having had the opportunities to leave the one bedroom, old tenement flat I was born in way behind me, the stress those on low pay are under must be f***ing enormous. And this is what I don’t get about Labour. I am a late baby-boomer, my family were taken out of that slum and housed in a modern flat built by a Labour council to a very high standard. If the same apartments had been built in Belgravia rather than Coatbridge they would sell for a million plus. I went to a good comprehensive school and then college, for free, with a full grant, I thought the UK was the greatest country in the world, civilised and cultured, charitable and community centred, all for one, one for all. I never thought about independence and wanted to serve my country as a sailor in the RN and then as a police officer. But where are we now? At each other’s throats, piled and prodded to fight against each other like rats in a bedroom taxed barrel. Labour, rightly, should be the one nation party, the party that thought I was worth a decent, affordable house, a supported education, good healthcare free at the point of delivery because in return I would repay that investment by serving my country and supporting its institutions but they have lost me for good. I despise them, with a bile stirred by betrayal. When Tom Harris feels comfortable writing for the Telegragh to stab the collective back of the thousands that voted for Corbyn then you know the Socialist train has long left the Labour station. The great UK post-war social contract is and was a blink of an eye in historical terms, the pervasiveness of the divided society was only turned down, never turned off. Osborne and Cameron are happy to turn it back up to eleven. Labour at best offer ear plugs but mostly they are singing along.

  2. Heidstaethefire

    An underdeveloped point, although you alluded to it briefly; the more money that any Scottish government guaranteed to ameliorate the cuts, the more Osborne will cut. The polity of Scotland should be fighting against the tories, not getting involved in phoney, point scoring fights. I do hope Kezia reads this.

  3. “Making it known you plan to cover the losses in advance makes it easier for Osborne.”

    My thoughts exactly. It’s not possible for an elected Scottish Government to compensate their electorate for every penny of Tory cuts and the further cuts that are planned. There is no money tree and no “big pot of cash” either as some who should know better assert in todays newspapers.

    Foodbanks are another example, if they didn’t exist I’m sure there would be massive protests at people starving on our streets. They came into being because of ordinary peoples concerns. In turn this allows sanctions of the poorest, the bedroom tax and now tax credit cuts to exist without a significant backlash.

    Charity should not be necessary in a humane society, it does not begin at home, it begins with the government we elect. You reap what you sow.

  4. The sure sign that this is just a political ploy on Labour’s part is the lack of questioning from the media.

  5. Personally, I would wait until we see what John Swinney comes up with before saying the commitment to offset the UK Government’s tax credit cuts is condemned as a mistake. But the larger point is well made about the impossibility of the Scottish Government continuing to fully, or even partially, mitigate the impact of the austerity fetishism currently gripping the Westminster elite.

    The Bedroom Tax was always going to be the thin end of the wedge. There was always going to be Bedroom Tax 2 and Son of Bedroom Tax and…

    The Scotland Bill is part of this process of constantly confronting the Scottish Government with all manner of fiscal traps. It is a malicious attack upon the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament perpetrated by the Tories with the enthusiastic cooperation of British Labour. It is the British state using its legislative power as a weapon against the SNP and the wave of democratic dissent rising in Scotland.

  6. I’m puzzled yet again by peoples seeming lack of wisdom. If the point (big if) is to reduce the cost to the state of Tax Credits and the hope (some hope) that companies will magically be induced to raise wages; why not simply present the bill for an employees Tax Credits to the company he’s employed by?
    Start with the biggest international companies paying least Corporation Tax.

    Why have I not heard anyone repeat this suggestion? I can’t be the only one to have thought of it – surely?

  7. “The first challenge is to stop these cuts going ahead, not opening up divisions in Scotland.”

    And that is what the SNP at WM ARE concentrating on.

    “I say let them have the ground. Who believes they are serious about helping the poor? Who cares if a few extra votes are swung their way? ”

    Unfortunately we are in an election campaign for next May, a campaign which could be the most crucial for Scotland’s future. So the SNP while doing practical politics like I say in my first sentence, also have to bear in mind that the voters are not all as sophisticated as denizens of social media and thus have to pander to the masses too.

    What I find most disappointing is that some journalists who showed some intelligence when writing about Scottish politics seem to have been either cowed into wanting to be received back into the anti-Scot hack pack or have had a brain seizure and have started to believe SLAB bullshit.

  8. smiling vulture

    I think cutting airport tax will be popular,thats Labour on a loser right away.

    Scottish electorate realise it Westminster imposing working class credit cuts,Labour said we were Better Together.

    I trust John Sweeney will do as much as he can,he said Fair Taxation about 10 x Sunday Politics

  9. Steve Asaneilean

    Thanks for this Derek – a brutal yet precise dissection and one of the best pieces you have written on this blog over the last couple of years.

    And to Joseph above – took the words right out of my mouth. One day I will have to but at this moment in time I cannot forgive what (Not) Labour have done to those who needed them most since 1997.

  10. Wow! Bang on the money Derek. I hope Swinney and Sturgeon read, or realise this and start setting the agenda instead of reacting to the Unionists agenda.

  11. Excellent Derek – excellent piece

  12. Agree with every word, so glad you didn’t take the same attitude as Iain McWhirter in Herald. People aren’t stupid, when next April arrives they’ll know who sticks up for Scotland. Will Labour in rest of UK now have to adopt Labour in Scotland’s policy of restoring tax credits,I imagine their voters being none too pleased of Jeremy Corbyn backs policy in Scotland and not England and Wales.

  13. Talk of restoring welfare cuts is a trap. But coming from the mouths of Mundell and the vile IDS is tantamount to an admission that the impoverishing cuts from Osborne should be reversed. Or maybe they think it’s just a big joke, making the “undeserving” poor poorer.

    Reversing the cuts would require either cuts to other services or tax rises. Neither should be contemplated, but the SG must start a public education exercise to explain both the brutality of the cuts, who is responsible (including Labour who helped get the Tories elected) and why taxes can’t rise – at present.

    Once we have Independence the situation changes and a wholesale reform of the tax system, including corporation tax, the regressive VAT, Council Tax and Income Tax rates. Not forgetting dealing with tax loopholes and avoidance via tax shelters (many of which are controlled by the UK). Some people and companies will have to pay more if we are to become a more equal society.

    As part of this reform we need to look at incomes both at the bottom and the top. A real, guaranteed citizen’s living wage is essential. But also we need to curb excess at the top, (people awarding themselves mega bucks or getting their “compensation” paid in tax havens or as dividends), either through the tax system or through an incomes policy. Ever since I was a small boy I have thought there should be a much smaller difference between the top and bottom incomes – no-one needs more than, say £100k, to lead an extremely comfortable life. The Ecology BS sets a fine example: “The ratio of the salary of the highest paid to the lowest paid employee…[is] 4.4:1”

  14. Agree with the comment above by jacquescoleman.
    Most voters are not economic experts. They will just see the big headlines spun by a friendly media.
    Tories promise no tax rises. Labour will restore tax credits and tax the rich more.
    The SNP has no choice but to compete to a large degree, even if it makes little economic sense.

    I think the APD reduction will have to be scaled down and spun out longer.
    It will still be a selling point that Labour in Scotland will find it hard to compete with, as the Head office won’t like that one. If the SNP and Labour manifestos are almost identical, then Nicola Sturgeon is the trump card as the far more credible candidate for FM.

    Also, I think it is essential for the SNP to keep up the agenda for more powers in the short term.
    The pro-Scottish agenda is their strongest point – and a feeling that we are still moving forwards, not settling for limited devolution.
    An SNP win can be framed as a clear message that people want more.

  15. As we should all know the forces that are massed against the SNP no matter what they do will be organised in such a way as to condemn everything the SNP does do, and be outraged at everything the SNP doesn’t do, in the co-ordinated plan to return Labour to some semblance of relevance in Scotland

    This will be aided and abetted by the Tories because as they have all said “The greatest enemy is the SNP” our country matters naught to them over the needs of their respective parties

    Because our Nation is still populated by the hard of understanding, the rabid sectarian bigots, and the I’m all right jacks we will also always have the difficulty of the uninformed who tend to be the biggest of the BBC consumers and now it appears also STV seem to have joined in, although they try to give the impression that they don’t understand what’s going on with Glaikit expressions when they read out the latest BBC Labour party information piece

    I’m smarter than probably most of the Scottish Labour party put together, which gives me great confidence knowing that John Swinney and the SNP are a good deal smarter than me, and in knowing that, I’m very comfortable that the SNP will do exactly what’s required while sticking it right up their Yoony backsides

  16. Good. Fire back in your belly back, again.

    The excellent points of the other respondents also taken on board (J Tierney, in particular, for some more fire of prose).

    However, am with Peter Bell on this in that let’s hold our powder dry until we see what John Swinney comes up with as I suspect ScotGov and the contingent at Westminster – the three pandas excluded – have the measure of these fcukers.

    They, the high Unionist heid yins at the Anglo-Brit WM parliament keep pushing the envelope cheer-leadered on by the class clipes at Holyrood (the JaBa’s, La Dugettes, the self-fiddlers of the likes of Whaur’s Ma Wullie Rennie, Woofie “The Tank”, and Anna “Lady Banana” Goldie) but they are playing with political, democratic, and, ultimately, who-is-sovereign (?) existential fire.

    Suspect their combined antics are pushing this whole charade into the end-game more imminently than we suspect.

    Thus, I await our pincer response with anticipation to these infantilist Unionist tactics.

    I can almost smell and taste the Battle of a Bauge in the air again where a tiny Scots contingent well and truly thrashed a massive Anglo invasion force on behalf of the beleaguered French, thus giving rise to the saying “the game’s abogey”.

    Guddle, guddle…and draw the b’stards out…

  17. Iain Macwhirter seems very willing to believe in the sincerity of ScotLab to want to alleviate the stress on the poor by its ‘policy’ to reverse tax credits to the point that he is unable to countenance that it is merely a cynical electioneering ploy on the part of the leadership that is wholly uncosted and undeliverable.

    I don’t doubt that sincerity exists at grass roots level but the leadership are either fools or profoundly cynical in thinking that they can pull the wool over people’s eyes.

    This is Better Together Mark 3. A combined Tory-Lab ploy. Use Tory traps to bait the SNP with populist wrath and force them into the fiscal trap set by the Tories.

    I am frankly astonished that Macwhirter can’t see this.

  18. I think this is one of your best articles Derek. I agree with it to a great extent. I have been fairly concerned for a while now at how the SNP would deal with the coming Calman/Smith Commission’s new powers/responsibilities. They were clearly meant as a fiscal trap, and I am not sure if the SNP would be correct in voting for them in the coming months.

    I have not been reassured at all by the SNP’s response last week to the tax credits cuts issue. Unionists want to damage both the SNP and the Scottish Parliament as an institution imo. They have forced the SNP to abandon their previously cautious approach that John Swinney clearly advocated. I think this might be Nicola Sturgeon’s first big mistake as FM and leader of the SNP. It makes the SNP look naïve and weak. As you say Derek there is no way that the SG is going to be able to deal with all the cuts coming from Westminster in the next few years. Sadly I think Sturgeon and co has been caught out (with the exception of Swinney), and it is simply not going to be possible to mitigate all the Tory cuts without seriously damaging the Scottish Parliament as an institution, and the electoral fortunes of the SNP, and hence independence.

    Nicola Sturgeon should have told the truth that these cuts are the consequence of the No vote, and not promising to mitigate them. We cannot keep moping up for Westminster and this horrendous Tory government. I hope I am wrong but it looks like NS and co have bottled it, and it looks like weak and naïve leadership to me. It is highly instructive to me that John Swinney, in his position as Finance Minister, should have been the most cautious, in the higher ranks of the SG and the SNP, over this issue.

    • Very sharp, Muttley. Last year Peter Arnott had a very astute article in Bella in which he castigated his No-inclined dinner guests prior to the Referendum, that if they didn’t vote for independence, and No won, and we got another Tory, axe-wielding government, that it would all be THEIR fault. And that he wouldn’t flinch from rubbing their noses in it thereafter.

      I know Sturgeon wants to cosy up to the ‘soft Noes’, in the hope of widening the cause of independence, but there comes a point when No voters need to be confronted with the reality of what they did and its consequences. I wonder how many ‘soft Noes’ there actually were. Some, for sure, have had buyer’s remorse.

      But I think it might have been more the case that there were a lot of ‘thick Noes’ plus some diehard Unionists Noes, both of which groups this policy is meant to appeal to. The thickos because they are easily conned, the diehards because they can’t wait to see the SNP fall into the trap that the Tories have sprung for them.

    • Mutley, I think you’re jumping ahead here. The Tax credit cuts have not been announced as yet, as Nicola stated at FMQ’s they are in the process of opposing these cuts at WM, and so we cannot possibly pull figures out of the air, the way Labour has, before the ‘actual’ cuts are outlined by Osbourne.

      We’re pushing them back, we are. And if we can gain ground with the Tax credit fiasco we can do it with whatever comes down the road. I’m not saying that the SG can mitigate every cut, but the more informed people are about the ‘how’ and the ‘wherefore’ of why this is coming about. The less likely people are to ‘blame’ the SNP. That’s the point about disseminating as much information as possible that debunks Labour’s stupid sums and shows them up as the’ irrelevant party’ that they have become in Scottish politics.

      The media can keep attempting to ‘resurrect’ Labour all they want, even Brewer on the Big Debate on Friday had to address the nonsense regarding APD and the ‘magic pot ‘o cash’ that Jackie Bailley wis rambling incoherently about.

      The point is Labour ‘should’ be standing shoulder to shoulder (hate that term…anyway…), fighting these cuts with the SNP. But they are not and no matter how they dress this up with phoney rhetoric about being to the ‘left of the SNP’ and that this somehow proves they really are the ‘party of the people’ as they are ‘fighting’ the Tax credit cuts. The reality is they did not vote against those cuts at Westminster!

      So it’s all electioneering on SLabour’s part, nothing to do with helping families with potential Tax credit cuts and everything to do with trying to get the ‘Yes’ former Labour voters on side as well as keeping a hold of their diminishing supporters from the No side of the ref.

      Nicola has to contend with the No and the Yes side Mutley, she can’t be seen to be taking sides…I know that sounds bizarre, but think about it. She can’t stand up at FMQ’s and accuse half the population of Scotland for being responsible for our current woes with the Tories? What she can do is continually show up Labour for the craven desperate party that they have become by sinking to such lows as they do in their continual attempts to rubbish the SNP, meanwhile trying to sell the Scottish electorate sums on the back o’ a fag packets as credibly costed policies, to save their own sorry arses.

      We’re doing very well in spite of the full blown assault on our political stance re Independence, we still have the corpmedia raging against us, and here we are 56 MP’s in Westminster really fighting hard on every level. With extremely good positivity ratings for Nicola and after 7 years of the SNP running the show in Scotland, still looking fantastic for next year’s elections.

      I wouldn’t be so quick to judge them as making errors at this stage Mutley. Have some faith man. We’re gonna do this.

      • @K1 I was not talking about the general election results in Scotland, which were fantastic. But I still have a great deal of anxiety over the SNP handling of these new powers/responsibilities because they are a fiscal trap, and over the pledge to protect people from the Tory tax credits cuts as well, which is almost certainly going to drain serious amounts of money from other areas of the block grant. This is going to cause serious problems for public services in Scotland.

        The SNP are not going to be able to sustain this level of popularity for ever, and that is another thing that is going to be have to be seriously examined, and we have still had no public debate from the SNP on why the Yes campaign ultimately failed to win last year.

  19. The unionist gloves are well and truly off as they desperately try and prevent an SNP majority in May 2016: Labour’s Scottish branch performing it’s historical role in delivering the Scottish working class and with it, Scotland to Westminster. In return for their tawdry rewards. It may not work this time….an attitudinal change, evidenced in May 2015, has taken and is taking place across the Scottish electorate. Labour’s new branch manager has been well briefed by her establishment masters and promised the assistance of an ever compliant media, particularly the BBC. Her goal is simple: derail another SNP majority and stop the then inevitability of IndyRef2 and independence.
    The recent and strange suspension of Iain Macwhirter’s critical faculties is as disappointing as it is curious……..

  20. @MBC

    One of my abiding fears about the SNP, and the leading figures at the top of it, in particular is whether they are politically ruthless enough to achieve independence. I don’t mean by ruthless the kind of routine bullying, intimidation, and lying you get from the more extreme Brit nats in Scotland. I mean are they prepared to spell out the blunt and brutal truth, that last year we had a chance to end having to endure Tory governments from Westminster, and we blew it?

    The SNP keep going on about positive campaigning, but that only gets you so far imo. George H. Bush hammered Dukakis in the 1988 American presidential election by being incredibly ruthless and negative. The most appropriate analogy I can think of is of a skilful, non aggressive football team who get beaten because they try to play too much football, and get the shit kicked out of them by a cynical and ruthless opposing team and manager. To me that is what happened to the Yes campaign, we ran a positive, vibrant, lovely referendum campaign, but were unable to deal with a campaign and ideology that had no interest in responding in kind. It seems the SNP want to continue in the same vein and mentality, by mitigating for atrocious Westminster and Tory rule, while shrugging our collective shoulders, and being too scared to point out the obvious truths at the same time.

    • There is no other road to Independence other than that through the SNP. I know that you know this muttely. To some extent I share your concern but to be honest it matters not until Independence is gained.

      I’ll let you into a little truth here, as far as I’m concerned even the Tories get to have a voice in a newly Un-Dependent government in Scotland.

      I’m lucky because I am dependent on no one, that is not the case for the great majority. The problem we really have is persuading those, like me, to vote Yes next time for a more fair and just society.

      My old man used to say “we can only eat two chickens a day”. He was right.

    • I have that fear too. We won’t get very far by being nicey-nicey. Management is what has been happenning in Scotland since 1603. We need leadership. At some point we have to make a bold outflanking attack move, that will rally the national spirit and illustrate to the remaining No voters – most of whom I’m convinced are simply thick – what our servility is under the Union and the potential that independence can release. We have to confront Westminster and take them on. Fracking might be one such issue. Energy is reserved but planning and environment are not. So there is a lawful basis for confrontation and resistance.

      [I am not, by the way, totally, unequivocally opposed to fracking – it’s just that it’s about the second last option I’d ever want to use, in terms of energy policy. (Nuclear would be the last option). But as long as the population of Scotland lives in the central belt, and the oil price is rock bottom, and the risks are unknown, and the technology imperfect, and the people opposed, I too remain firmly opposed.]

      Land reform is another issue, but less tactical in that few people are rural. But the political ‘ruthlessness’ (I would prefer to call is muscularity and determination) to confront and outflank Westminster and build a popular resistance is simply not there. You have to look to politicians like Tommy Sheridan to find that kind of political muscularity, but he is quite a flawed individual, for other reasons. Jim Sillars was a fighter, but he never got the opportunity to lead, and now he’s getting on, even if still sharp as a tack.

  21. Richard montgomery

    Brilliant article, spot on.

  22. @muttley79 – The way I see it, the SNP has to think tactically.

    We know limited devolution is a trap, but we still have to win an election, and we have to win a majority if we want a chance of a second referendum.

    That means competing with Labour for votes in central Scotland seats.
    Maybe we can’t fully restore cuts, but we could help to ameliorate them in the worst cases. But doing nothing, if Labour runs on a platform of restoring cuts, runs the danger of losing the majority. The Red Tory card won’t work forever.

    Things like raising the very top rate of tax will probably end up losing money, as some of the richest will relocate their main address. But it might just have to be done for a year, to PROVE that to voters.

    Give them as few unique selling points as possible. All things being equal, then Nicola > Kezia.
    Together with a general pro-Scottish agenda for more powers.. that should be enough to win most seat battles.

    Personally, I think a consultative referendum on selected extra powers would be a good campaigning issue.
    eg Energy, Broadcasting, NI, CGT, VAT allocation etc
    A list of Yes’s.

    Most people understand we need a far broader range of economic powers to grow the economy.
    And it would keep up the pressure on the constitution in the short term.

  23. By all means let’s get real.

    Labour pushed this as nothing more than a cheap attempt to score points on labour. Their plans are just idiotic in the extreme but then, like the lib dems they can promise all they want, they’ll never have to deliver it. But to push the SNP into it, will I think, simply highlight how little power we actually have.

    For the SNP to do it, would require cuts and possibly a tax raise, pure and simple. Reason? Westminster holds the purse strings and is dipping Scotlands pocket, meaning there is no “real” power over welfare.
    But even then, nothing can be planned until the Scotland Bill becomes the new Scotland act. That won’t be until 2018. Then and only then can work begin. It would be a complex issue and the infrastructure simply is not there to support it. That would mean the first Scottish tax credit probably could not be paid until 2020 – possibly 2021. The help is needed now. The means to do it, do not exist. Scotlands new powers are for all intents and purposes….unworkable and worthless. Scotland simply can’t do it. I think Sturgeon and the SNP know this.

    The best the SNP could do, is tinker around the edges. Even then it could never replace a cut pound for pound. It’s options are limited. It powers limited by the fact its finances are controlled by westminster.
    Scottish labour are trying to push the SNP into using limited powers to mitigate Westminster austerity. They’re doing it for nothing more than another pointless SNP=BAD headline in the daily record. They don’t care who gets hurt to get “at” the SNP. That makes them far worse than the Conservatives.

  24. There has been much talk of the ‘fiscal trap’ set out in the proposed Scotland Bill amendments. We can all see how it will work – the tories cut tax credits while challenging the SG to offset the reductions through use of the new tax powers, the collusive Scottish Labour, always ready for an SNP BAD headline, announce a policy of mitigation, that they know they have no realistic chance of being in power to implement, and challenge the SNP to do more.

    Stitch up complete – or is it?

    I think there are far more pressing concerns on this subject than Dugdale and Baillie’s dodgy arithmetic and spending the same money twice. We are now witnessing the creation of a tory electoral/poll trap that may disadvantage Labour, the SNP and the YES movement indefinitely.

    Should Osbourne succeed against all human decency and implement the proposed tax credit cuts in full then Scottish Labour will use this to drive the narrative in the run up to next years election in Scotland. But while helping the tories drive the poison into the SNP, will the SLab frog ever glance over its shoulder to see what the tory scorpion is up to? They really should as they are being steered into the same trap, and here is how that trap will work.


    SLab drive the narrative in tax credit mitigation forcing the SNP to follow, the tories allow the argument to develop before leading their argument that both SNP/Lab are committed to using the tax powers to increase income tax on hard working middle class earners in order to subsidise the feckless. The middle classes – and there are a significant number who traditionally support both Lab/SNP – have since the days of Thatcher subscribed to the idea of low tax on earnings. Many of them will look to protect their own incomes by voting tory. Yes, by colluding in this Slab may prevent another SNP majority (putting the indy movement back years) but they may also regress to the third party status in Scotland. Only the tories make any gains.


    They tory assault on the poor, sick and disabled has reached its zenith for this parliament and the time for vote buying has arrived. Cue tax cuts/increased personal allowance promises from WM while challenging the SG, of whatever hue, not to use the tax powers to negate the tax cuts for the hard working middle income professional class. Will the middle class Scots be willing to help shoulder the burden, or will they consider the poor now beyond help and opt for the tax cut from the party that created the inequality? Well, call me Old Mr Cynical, but I believe that every man has his price, and the high earners are the easiest to buy off.

    If this all pans out as designed then here is vision of Scotland’s future – student fees, prescription charges, private health insurance premiums, concessionary travel no more, school meals no more, tax credits no more, benefits no more. But there will be low taxes for the rich.

    Johann Lamont will be pleased – an end to this something for nothing culture.

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