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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Holyrood Budget Drama

So, the SNP Government - sorry, the SNP propped up by the Tories Government - has failed to get it's budget through Holyrood today.

The Lib Dems have (consistently) warned the SNP that this Budget was an inadequate response to the economic situation currently facing facing Scotland and it's residents.

Today we did see the Labour and Green Party MSPs voting against the budget, despite attacking us two weeks ago for doing the very same thing, however we welcome the fact that they have now seen sense and it is one u-turn I welcome.

I recognise it is important for a Scottish Budget to be passed - however it is more important that the Budget is the right one for our times. It is the duty of Ministers to come back to Parliament with a Budget that can make a real difference to Scotland.

Gordon Brown's VAT cut was just a waste of space but also, let's take this back further to when Vince Cable MP was predicting these turbulent times and even then both Labour and the Conservatives across the UK just dismissed his comments and views - yet now all economic commentators are saying we should have listened to Vince and the Lib Dems.

Let's be clear. This is not the West Wing. There is no immediate threat to public services. The current year's Budget continues to operate and can sustain public services indefinitely. But, evidently, it is a matter that is better sorted sooner rather than later.

These are unprecedented times. Unemployment is at its highest level for 12 years; job losses are escalating; Government borrowing is at record levels; the pound is at a 25-year low against the dollar and approaching parity with the Euro; and today's shocking Scottish GDP figures should ring alarm bells very loudly in the Salmond & Swinney offices.

Yet the SNP budget put to the Scottish Parliament for consideration today was only one per cent different from their original Budget of 2007. A variation of one per cent forms the weakest response of any Western European Government, national or devolved, to the economic difficulties we face in 2009.

The SNP budget, supported by the Conservatives, was woefully inadequate and the Liberal Democrat MSPs simply could not support measures that do not respond to the ferocity of the economic storm. We have repeatedly proposed a 2p income tax cut that would put £330 in the pockets of every low and medium earner in Scotland. It would be a real help to struggling families and individuals when they need it most.

Today, an economic analysis from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre shows that our income tax proposal would support 9,200 direct and indirect jobs.

Remember what the Scotsman also wrote recently: "The only serious budget proposal to boost the economy is a 2p income tax cut put forward by the Lib Dems".

We aren't being awkward or just opposing for the sake of it, this is about standing up for the people of Scotland and putting money into their pocket so they spend more moving the economy onwards and upwards.

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