Thursday November 9th 2017
Article written by SNP Midlothian East Councillor Kenneth Baird
Last week we saw the Council Leader march (in a bus) down to Holyrood for the day so they could all stand outside the Scottish Parliament and shout about how they wanted more money, the only problem is they were in the wrong place.
In reality there’s two places the Labour group need to go, one’s down in London and the others just along the road from Haymarket, I hear the tram stops right next to it!
The first place to go is Westminster, Philip Hammond sets the UK budget, which in turn sets the Scottish budget, if they cut services our services get cut too, the Scottish Government are just a lot better at making that money go further. Holyrood is unable to borrow money to plug gaps in public spending, that power belongs to London, if Labour want to join me and my colleagues in ensuring all government decisions are made in Edinburgh then I will welcome challenging the Scottish Government on funding, until then they’re on their own.
The second and much more unpalatable stop for Labour is COSLA, that’s the body which determines how much each council receives from Holyrood, determined by a formula that only they can change. All the Labour group would need to do is ask the Labour President of COSLA to review the formula and Midlothian could get a bigger slice of the pie, it would however be at the cost of other Councils and I can tell you from my own experience that charm and negotiating is something those 7 councillors desperately lack.
So if Holyrood’s hands are tied, Westminster’s too far and COSLA’s too difficult what are Labour to do? Well if the last 6 months have told me anything the answer is hide in their office, blame the SNP and proclaim that they didn’t sign up for this. The community deserve better, it’s Tory austerity/Gordon Brown era incompetence that caused this and they did sign up for it.
Several months ago I contacted my Labour ward counterpart and told him ‘my door is always open’ to discuss how we can protect services and tackle poverty, I’m still waiting and I fear I will continue to wait until the budget is passed in February. It doesn’t have to be this way, all Labour have to do is put their unionism to one side and work with the SNP to deliver a progressive budget.Tweet Share on Facebook