Letter To The Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 11/10/15
If I say something which is patently false over and over does that make it true? This seems to be Anti-Scottish Labours latest tactic, and seems to be working as well as the previous ones, and by that I mean it can easily be disproved by any reasonably intelligent adult within a few minutes.
Ursula Craigs letter in last weeks Advertiser made the claim that because the current Scottish Government had a £350 Million budgetary underspend in the last financial year they are somehow withholding money from areas where it is needed to exaggerate the effects of austerity so that Westminster can be blamed. One of the problems in trying to run a country which voted not to stand on its own two feet in the world is that finances are “pooled and shared” and without real tax raising powers there’s little that can be done to change things. Our wealth goes south to Westminster and we get a bit of it (not all of it mind) back to spend as we see fit.
Imagine if you will that the Scottish Government managed to budget right down to the last penny. What reserves would it have to deal with emergencies? Where would the money come from if there is an exceptionally severe winter and the country grinds to a halt because the grit has run out and there is no cash to procure more? Where would the cash come from if there was a medical emergency which required the purchase of a huge amount of vaccine? Where would the money come from if Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems teamed up to force through a major construction project in our capital city, only to mismanage it to such an extent it needed someone to bail it out? Would people be happy if the Scottish Government had to go cap in hand to Westminster saying “We’ve spent our allowance, please Sir, can we have some more?” Because that is exactly what would happen if every last penny was spent. The Scottish Government, no matter which party controls it, cannot borrow money as other countries do. It cannot create or raise taxes as other countries do. It can simply cut and reallocate its pocket money.
In it’s time in power Labour managed to create a peak budgetary underspend of around £718 million pounds; that’s over twice the amount of cash that the SNP have in reserve. In fact a smaller underspend indicates that the SNP Scottish Government are squeezing more out of the budget and making sure that more money makes its way to where it is needed than the previous Labour dominated administrations did. Which is why it’s a bit rich to see so called political heavyweights like Jackie Baillie talking mince on this subject to any media outlet which will carry her words. This is the same Jackie Baillie who complained that the Scottish Government would have no money for emergencies “in case Orkney sank”. Only last year was she herself reported to have claimed a whole fifth of the total annual expenses of all other MSPs COMBINED for food and drink for hosting meetings. It would perhaps be more fitting if Ms Baillie stopped talking Scotland down and at the same time reined in her own out of control spending. She campaigned for a pocket money parliament, it’s time she started pulling her weight to make it work.