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Budget movement

Brian Taylor | 13:04 UK time, Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Bit more movement on the budget front at Holyrood.

Still looking pretty likely that the £30bn package will be endorsed by MSPs tomorrow, one way or t'other.

Re that movement. Firstly, the Scottish government is publishing details of progress on its 36 largest capital spending projects.

It isn't the full month-by-month outline demanded by opposition parties - but it is internal detail showing what has and has not been spent to date on these big projects, such as the new Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

Ministers say it demonstrates some projects have clearly been accelerated, countermanding any slippage elsewhere.

In plain language, there isn't spare money for the Glasgow Airport rail link.

That is bad news for Labour who emphasised again today that it was "almost impossible" to envisage their MSPs voting for the budget without the reinstatement of Garl.

Spring revision

Particularly since the Glasgow North-east by-election, it has become totemic for Labour - but the party leadership insists that the cancellation of Garl is also an indication of where the budget falls down on improving infrastructure and sustaining the economy.

More movement. Ministers have announced their routine spring revision to this year's spending programme, for 2009-10.

The choice of programmes to benefit is carefully scripted.

There will be more for affordable housing - a key Labour demand. And more for college places - a key Liberal Democrat demand.

In other words, ministers are anticipating opposition suggestions for 2010-11 with action this year.

So how are things shaping? I think Labour will vote against, unless - against all expectations - they get the reinstatement of Garl.

The Tories want serious indications of measures to curb spending - including an independent review and the publication of all spending items costing more than £25,000.

Green vote

I think they'll get those - or something close - and may end up supporting the budget.

Ditto the Greens who have already been promised a £10m fund for wave and tidal power and are looking for more action on home insulation.

They won't get all they want but may - stress, may - vote "Yes" to the budget this year.

As for the Liberal Democrats, their prime demand has been for measures to curb the public sector pay bill, targeting those on top earnings.

They'll get something on that.

They seem to me to be swithering between support and abstention - with abstention perhaps most likely on the grounds that they won't get all they want and have reservations about other aspects of the budget.

If that is the arithmetic, then the budget carries.


or register to comment.

  • 1. At 1:43pm on 02 Feb 2010, Alba4eva wrote:

    The Budget will go forward without Labour Support... but then, the Scottish Government and Scottish politics has been moving forward since 2007 without Labour support.

    What's new?

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  • 2. At 2:10pm on 02 Feb 2010, boabycat wrote:

    The smaller parties seem to be being reasonably helpful in accepting the main thrust of the budget, and getting a decent bang for their buck in terms of the number of MSPs they have. Labour are increasing being seen as obstructive, anxious to create artificial dividing lines. The public are increasing seeing Labour as out of touch with their views.
    Transparency is the key to getting better value for money. It doesn't cost much but it helps drive down costs and why shouldn't we, the taxpayers, see how our elected representitives spend OUR money.

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  • 3. At 2:43pm on 02 Feb 2010, hamish42 wrote:

    If Labour do get their way on GARL (which seems to be totemic rather than essential), John Swinney should put the same restrictions on as he did for the Edinburgh trams project, i.e. not an extra penny on the budget come what may, then we can all sit back and watch the problems develop.

    Of course, whatever the decision, the media will use it to denigrate the SNP government once again.

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  • 4. At 2:50pm on 02 Feb 2010, Wee Archie Gemmill wrote:

    So no guts from the Lib Dems as usual, then. As a Lib Dem voter myself (I live in England), their performance really has been the worst thing about the Scottish Parliament since 2007. Labour's petulant obstructiveness and destructiveness was to be expected, as was the Tories' cynical but pragmatic opportunism. But under the twin idiots of Nicol Stephen and Tavish Scott the Lib Dems have committed a long slow suicide, coupled with the abandonment of almost all of their supposed principles.

    How does it serve your voters - or the country as a whole - to reject governmental power and settle for an impotent fourth place, for no other reason than to refuse the people a democratic voice on a major issue? Especially when it's a voice you ought to be highly confident of speaking out on your side.

    Stephen and Scott have betrayed everyone who voted Lib Dem in 2007, and the very principles of liberal democracy too. I hope they receive their just rewards at both coming elections.

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  • 5. At 3:21pm on 02 Feb 2010, Harry Stottle wrote:

    'There will be more for affordable housing - a key Labour demand'

    Ye gods. This is from the party that built 6, yes 6 (six) council houses during their 8 (eight) years in office.

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  • 6. At 3:24pm on 02 Feb 2010, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    Well said. Neither liberal nor democratic, they have reduced themselves to irrelevancy - or should I say, obvious irrelevancy.
    They have always been irrelevant since they wewre swallowed up by the chancers of the SDP and their liaison with Labour to form the last Scottish Government merely gave them a temporary appearance of relevance.
    They bear no resembalnce to the Liberal Party of the past

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  • 7. At 3:56pm on 02 Feb 2010, JTomlin wrote:

    5. Harry Stottle
    "'There will be more for affordable housing - a key Labour demand'

    Ye gods. This is from the party that built 6, yes 6 (six) council houses during their 8 (eight) years in office.

    Bears repeating for the utter hypocrisy of their obstrucionism.

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  • 8. At 4:09pm on 02 Feb 2010, JTomlin wrote:

    There seems to be a bit of a stooshie going on in local Shetland politics. Actually the Sunday Mail had rather a lot more to say about it, but it was on their usual low level so I didn't want to link to it.

    You never know as an outside whether this will have an effect on political parties or even which the people involved are members of. But in a run-up to a GE these things tend to get attention.

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  • 9. At 4:12pm on 02 Feb 2010, Douglas Daniel wrote:

    You know, I think it's quite admirable for Swinney to include room for a key Labour demand in there, even though it's obvious they'll vote against the budget just for the sake of it. I must confess, if I was him, I don't think I would even waste my time speaking to them. Even if GARL had been fitted in there somehow, they'd still find a reason not to vote in favour of the budget. Opposition for opposition's sake is, quite simply, pathetic.

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  • 10. At 4:32pm on 02 Feb 2010, Gary Hay wrote:

    GARL has become so totemic for Labour that the realism is that it will never be reinstated within this parliaments life.

    Labour rather childishly used it as a blunt weapon to attack the "Anti-Glasgow" SNP with (Along with devolved matters, which thier candidate had no right, remit or reason to talk about during his election campaign) - if anyone thinks that for one second that reinstating GARL after the palaver that Labour created is even a remote possibility - they are clearly chuffing mental.

    This budget will humliate Labour - they sowed the seeds of this in thier own disquiet over GARL - now the tories and the libdems will be able to insist that it was they, not labour that got the biggest concessions from the incumbent government.

    Labour in Scotland are an utter joke.

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  • 11. At 4:34pm on 02 Feb 2010, rochcarlie wrote:

    Glasgow Airport is a private enterprise, as is the provision of most transport services.
    The CBI and Chamber of Commerce have been vocal in demanding GARL.
    If then it is such a great idea, why can't the business community not just raise the cash and build the thing.
    After all, they are always telling Government to keep out of business.

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  • 12. At 4:41pm on 02 Feb 2010, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #4 Rev_S_Campbell
    "Stephen and Scott have betrayed everyone who voted Lib Dem in 2007, and the very principles of liberal democracy too."

    Spot on, but you also have to thank Clegg and the "federal" leadership for completing the "work" of Jo Chamberlain and effectively becoming Liberal Unionists, too. That said, they are still probably the leastworst option if you live in England.

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  • 13. At 4:47pm on 02 Feb 2010, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #6 sneckedagain
    "They bear no resembalnce to the Liberal Party of the past"

    Quite so, although the Liberal Party is not quite dead yet.

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  • 14. At 4:50pm on 02 Feb 2010, LossieRed wrote:

    Labour's stance on the budget is pathetic but what should we expect from a party that is leaderless and clueless.
    As far as the Liberals are concerned during their time in cahoots with Labour they added £51M to the cost of the Aberdeen WPR. This the infamous occasion when Tavish Scott redrew the route of the AWPR on the back of a fag packet without realising that this would involve demolishing the private International School in Aberdeen. The school is being rebuilt at a new location at a minimum cost of £51M.
    In the meantime Mike Rumbles Lib MSP is on about obsolete central heating boiler grants of £400 and what is the SNP doing about it. A worthy cause which could have been seen potential funds for 127500 replacement boilers accross Scotland had his colleague Tavish Scott not thrown the money away on relocating a private school. The usual debate no doubt about Cap/Exp budgets but bottom line good for the environment, energy savings and employment.
    No principles and no vision.

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  • 15. At 5:15pm on 02 Feb 2010, clachangowk wrote:

    #10 Gary Hay wrote "Labour in Scotland are an utter joke."

    How do Labour supporters and others outside Glasgow see this pro-Glasgow Campaign by Labour for GARL? It might get them a few more votes in Glasgow but corresponding losses further afield.

    It seems to me that Labour are consciously retreating into their west of Scotland heartland with Glasgow at its core.

    Forget Labour in Scotland. "Labour in Strathclyde" is the new deal

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  • 16. At 5:25pm on 02 Feb 2010, Online Ed wrote:

    In the same way that a decent opposition ensures that the party in government do not get complacent so a decent media ensure that the opposition behave in a mature fashion.

    Labour are out of control precisely because the Scottish media have taken it upon themselves to let them run wild.

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  • 17. At 5:58pm on 02 Feb 2010, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Regardless of one's opinion of Duff Gordon's damascene conversion to electoral reform after nearly 27 years as an MP bitterly opposed to any such thing, one has to admire his courage in this section of today's Speech on transforming politics:
    "Any change will not be for the forthcoming election. But we are agreed there should be a referendum at a date in the near future, because any decision on something as fundamental as electoral reform must not be the subject of an executive decision endorsed by parliament but rather a question for the British people in a referendum. I will argue and campaign for such a change."

    How odd that no mention of distraction from the task in hand was made.

    Noting that Viceroy Murphy has made no such promise about his ‘We will transform Scottish politics’ white paper, which promises fundamental tax reform to the Scottish people, I hope that in the next HoC Scotland questions scheduled for Wednesday 24 February, some Scottish MP asks him to confirm that a Scottish referendum will be needed to confirm this "enormously radical" change and suggests 30 November 2010 as a good day to hold it.

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  • 18. At 6:08pm on 02 Feb 2010, NewForfarian wrote:

    #4, Rev_S_Campbell wrote:

    "So no guts from the Lib Dems as usual, then. As a Lib Dem voter myself (I live in England)..."

    But, as the party itself is ofttimes at pains to claim, there are NO Liberal Democrats at Holyrood; they are definitively SCOTTISH Liberal Democrats, and not beholden to London 'masters'.

    Would that "Scottish Labour" was so brave; a Scottish party might return to being electable....

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  • 19. At 6:39pm on 02 Feb 2010, Gary Hay wrote:


    As an Aberdonian, I see it as a joke. That's the bypass for Fochabers in Moray started - 10 years after the Lhanbryde Bypass and 25 years after the WPR was first concieved.

    Thats essentially 25 years (and some change) of me and everyone else who have never voted Tory or Labour waiting for a government promise that's never been kept.

    Sod GARL.

    I don't give a hoot if folk from Glasgow can't get out to the airport for thier fortnight in the Costas. I've waited 25 years for a route past Aberdeen that didn't take as long as driving from Elgin to Inverness.

    Labour in Strathclyde is right. When David Cameron wins the UK GE it will be the end of Labour in England and a return to the bad old days of holding Scotland to ransom while the "big two" bicker and argue about unions, class and public spending.

    The joys.

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  • 20. At 6:47pm on 02 Feb 2010, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    I am somewhat disappointed but not at all surprised that the UK Govt is funding a joint venture between a Spanish owned electricity company and a Norwegian tidal energy company.

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  • 21. At 7:11pm on 02 Feb 2010, enneffess wrote:

    15. clachangowk:

    You do not want to give Labour an opportunity to use the same argument that the SNP are anti-Glasgow. Previous debates on this blog have had some people here posting some rather strong anti-Glasgow comments.

    At times, there are also comments that the SNP is central belt fixated.

    The truth is that the SNP are trying to deliver across the whole of Scotland.

    Without unity, the SNP will not be able to gain the strong position it needs.


    On the Lib Dems, they need a good kicking at the election in order for them to have a cold, hard look at what they really stand for.

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  • 22. At 7:42pm on 02 Feb 2010, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Alex Salmond woos opposition to back his budget

    Iain Gray, Labour’s Holyrood leader, reiterated his intention to vote against the budget after the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (Garl) was scrapped.

    “John Swinney should be big enough to change his mind at the eleventh hour and reinstate Garl in the budget,” Mr Gray said, before tabling an amendment to the budget proposing the project be reinstated.

    i.e. Do as we say as we know best, the shear arrogance of Labour one has to question who actually votes for these people!

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  • 23. At 7:46pm on 02 Feb 2010, clachangowk wrote:

    #21 enneffess

    I do not think that Labour need any excuse to portray the SNP as anti-Glasgow. It is their only line of attack. My point is that outside west Scotland they are increasingly losing strength. I get the impression that they have given up on anywhere outside their greater Glasgow heartland.
    I was unaware that there are comments that the SNP is central belt fixated. However, you also say that previous debates on this blog have had some people posting some rather strong anti-Glasgow comments. So I guess the SNP must be getting it about right.
    I had seen the SNP strength that they are the only party with good representation throughout the length and breadth of Scotland. This means, of course, that the challenge will always be there to balance competing demands from different parts of the country.

    Labour have clearly given up on even trying. For them it is Glasgow or nothing.

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  • 24. At 8:26pm on 02 Feb 2010, enneffess wrote:

    On the budget, the Forth Bridge is going to be the main issue raised by Labour.

    But I'm getting a touch worried that Swinney is perhaps refusing to back down here for political, rather than financial, reasons.

    The cost of repairing the bridge is much less. Whether it is a suitable long-term option is a different matter that can only be answered by an engineer.

    And no, I'm not in favour of GARL being reinstated.

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  • 25. At 8:42pm on 02 Feb 2010, InfrequentAllele2 wrote:

    As I and others said on a previous thread, there is no point to GARL without Glasgow Crossrail. Without Crossrail in place, GARL is nothing more than a high status vanity project with the sole purpose of making Glesga Cooncil look good to visiting dignitaries for the Commonwealth Games.

    I'll also repeat the point I made on the previous thread. For a fraction of the cost of GARL a railway station could be built on the Paisley to Wemyss Bay line where it passes the end of the airport runway. The station could then be connected to the airport terminal by a new roadway or guided bus lane exclusively for the use of shuttle buses - thus avoiding existing road traffic. The total distance is 2/3 of a mile. I am no civil engineer, but the costs would be considerably less than the GARL proposal, and would deliver a similar outcome.

    If Labour really had the interests of Glasgow at heart, it would be actively pushing for an alternative solution rather than its current I'll thcweam and thcweam and thcweam til I'm sick strategy.

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  • 26. At 8:42pm on 02 Feb 2010, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    24. enneffess
    "The cost of repairing the bridge is much less. Whether it is a suitable long-term option is a different matter that can only be answered by an engineer."

    Trying to repair something which has a fundemental flaw from its concept is shortermism at its best, like repairing rotten window sills covering the present occupants needs as the next occupiers will pick up a larger and more costly problem later. One just has to look at the railway bridge as how to build things that last, as an after thought has anyone considerd build a bridge alongside/attached which would increase both structures durablity.

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  • 27. At 8:44pm on 02 Feb 2010, Jim wrote:

    I would love to read this but I find it unreadable due to the need to take a new paragraph after literally every sentence. Why is this? Is it some sort of BBC guideline? The only comparable blogger is Phil McNulty in Sport, but even then he occasionally allows 2(!) or more sentences.

    Anyone know any decent Scottish politics blogs in the meantime...?

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  • 28. At 9:16pm on 02 Feb 2010, hamish42 wrote:

    “John Swinney should be big enough to change his mind at the eleventh hour and reinstate Garl in the budget,” Mr Gray said, before tabling an amendment to the budget proposing the project be reinstated.

    This comment from Gray demonstrates that for Labour and for Gray in particular, this has become a face saving exercise. The sense of that comment is that Gray is on his knees before Swinney, begging Swinney to change his mind.

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  • 29. At 9:54pm on 02 Feb 2010, handclapping wrote:

    Labour are out of their tiny mind over GARL. The HSTs that serve the London to Aberdeen rail route will be scrapped soon and their replacements will be electric. Where are the electric wires from Edinburgh to Aberdeen? Sorry we had to allow Glaswegians to have a bity train so they can take their holidays! What do Lewis MacDonald, Marilyn Livingston and Helen Eadie say to their constituents when the service stops? How do you recover the seats in Dundee West, Fife Central and Dunfermline West when the opposition is baying for your blood that their train service has stopped so that Glasgow could have GARL?

    As for Marilyn Livingston, she is going to have to answer to me for voting for GARL when I have to travel in 1950's cattle wagons behind a redundant freight engine on my journey to Edinburgh to get a bus to the airport. A really grand way to start your holidays if you live in the Prime Minister's constituency.

    Glasgow needs GARL like a flower needs make-up and Labour need GARL in the run up to a General Election like a tukey needs Christmas. Dunfermline and West Fife, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Glenrothes, Dundee East, Dundee West, Aberdeen North and Aberdeen South all put at risk by the Labour group at Holyrood. Madness, utter madness!

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  • 30. At 9:54pm on 02 Feb 2010, enneffess wrote:

    26. cynicalHighlander:

    I'm not an engineer but I do know that bridge design is complex. I don't think you could attach another bridge to the rail one, though it would be fairly unique.

    What is annoying is that the whole argument is being turned into a East vs West argument, which can't be pleasing to everyone from Stirling northwards either.


    23. clachangowk:

    "Labour have clearly given up on even trying. For them it is Glasgow or nothing."

    Perhaps true, but a dangerous assumption to make. Labour will be targetting every seat because they need every single one they can get. The SNP dare not sit on their backsides outside of Glasgow.


    Best reason yet why Scottish Water should not be privatised. Ownership goes overseas and the new owner cares little for the country where the company is based.

    What is really galling about the Kraft/Cadbury is that a bank is bailed out with UK TAXPAYER's money, which is then loaned to a US company, which then buys a British manufacturing company, and now has no guarantees for the future in the UK.

    Everyone could see what was coming. OK, it is a private company but taxpayers money should never have been allowed to be used in this manner.

    Retail stores own branded chocolate has become disctinctly more attractive.

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  • 31. At 10:13pm on 02 Feb 2010, Mike wrote:

    Is it only SNP Bloggers that are so wicked?
    Seems to be according to Dick Mungin of the Scottish Review

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  • 32. At 10:14pm on 02 Feb 2010, Jane Ann Liston wrote:

    Retail stores own branded chocolate has become disctinctly more attractive.

    Better still, buy Fairtrade chocolate, such as Maya Gold or the Divine range.

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  • 33. At 10:29pm on 02 Feb 2010, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    30. enneffess
    "26. cynicalHighlander:

    I'm not an engineer but I do know that bridge design is complex. I don't think you could attach another bridge to the rail one, though it would be fairly unique.

    What is annoying is that the whole argument is being turned into a East vs West argument, which can't be pleasing to everyone from Stirling northwards either.

    Who makes it complex? Answer man ruled by politicians and the "experts" who they turn to, most problems can be be solved simply but people have to make names for themselves for their own kudos. I was only trying to show that a long thin structure is inherently weaker than one that is linked making an increased combined width.

    We are quite used to the Northe South divide which has gone on for time immemorial as we live in the playing fields from all below Dalwinnie.

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  • 34. At 10:46pm on 02 Feb 2010, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    32. ArranBrownButterfly
    "Better still, buy Fairtrade chocolate"

    Why? To get onto the Freetrade bandwagon the producer has to pay about £800 pounds up front to get join that club (at c70p a day earnings) the peasant landowner is unable to pay that subscription, enter the capitalist entrepener with the bankroll, I'll leave you to summarise and include a reference to their hungry neighbours.

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  • 35. At 10:49pm on 02 Feb 2010, Alba4eva wrote:

    Hope people on here remember that there are SNP voters like me in Glasgow? Quite a lot of us even!

    Nicola has Govan and John Mason has Glasgow East and there are a whole bunch of Councillors.

    All I'm saying is that it is a media manipulation which is attempting to create the divide along with a bunch of jumping upon the bandwagon by Labour. I'm assuming because they are all scared of the SNP making strides in perceived Labour traditional voting areas?

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  • 36. At 10:58pm on 02 Feb 2010, Online Ed wrote:

    31. At 10:13pm on 02 Feb 2010, Mike wrote:
    Is it only SNP Bloggers that are so wicked?
    Seems to be according to Dick Mungin of the Scottish Review

    A quite pathetic piece that relies on innuendo and makes assertions without any evidence.

    The old lie that the The Scotsman comments is inhabited by cybernats alone is simply too ridiculous to take seriously, the first couple of comments on any political item over there is now routinely posted by Unionist trolls who are killing their own paper.

    The Herald comments were similar to the current Cally comments - it was targetted by Unionists who tried to turn it into The Scotsman and failed - The Herald closed down it's comments because the quality of many contributors were tearing their political output to shreds, it had become a paper within a paper.

    The myth of the intemperate cybernats is just that - a myth - the paucity in the claim can be found by the fact that they only ever cite the same two bloggers, one who swore and one who used satire.

    I do wish that they would have a go at Newsnet Scotland, it would be worth a few hundred extra subscribers surely.

    I'm sure anyone of a dozen posters to this site could rip this man's arguments to shreds given a couple of hours. I'm sure that Scottish Review would be happy to provide a right of reply (If there isn't one lined up already).

    Unfortunately I am just too busy.

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  • 37. At 10:59pm on 02 Feb 2010, dear_wendy wrote:

    Regarding Gordon's referendum on constitutional reform - to be held in the near future.....

    Is this the best time to be diverting attention from the recession/recovery/economy/afghanistan (delete as appropriate) that should be everyone's priority, ahead of constitutional tinkering that no-one wants?

    Mr Murphy should be told of this outrage!

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  • 38. At 11:02pm on 02 Feb 2010, oldnat wrote:

    Here's an interesting question - who's paying for the Pope's visit to England and Scotland that St Murph is running?

    Obvious now why the Scottish bishops wwere less than full-hearted about this visit!

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  • 39. At 11:16pm on 02 Feb 2010, oldnat wrote:

    Alternative Voting

    NB the cynicism of Labour wanting to spend money on a UK referendum of the most limited change in voting system, while saying we can't have one on independence/fiscal autonomy.

    Incidentally, it would mean that Scotland would move from having four different voting systems to having five!

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  • 40. At 11:19pm on 02 Feb 2010, JTomlin wrote:

    31. Mike
    "Is it only SNP Bloggers that are so wicked?
    Seems to be according to Dick Mungin of the Scottish Review

    I know longer read the Review because of vicious attacks like this. He can name two cybernats--but all are vicious scum according to him. Yet as far as he is concerned the vicious attacks from Labour are all right (and he admits they exist) because SOME are under the person's real name. Yet he can ignore the cyberbit bile at The Scotsman. Apparently we only imagined it.

    I can live without their pretend neutrality that is very thinly veiled unionism.

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  • 41. At 11:34pm on 02 Feb 2010, enneffess wrote:

    35. Alba4eva:

    Nicola Sturgeon is well respected in Glasgow and surrounding areas, even amongst non-SNP voters that I speak to. She speaks straight, doesn't patronise the voters (unusual in a politician) and has proved effective in what must be a nightmare of a ministerial role (remember John Reid's alleged comment - "goodness me", not health).

    Glasgow NE was not a good indicator of support in the city, partly because it was a bye-election, partly media coverage and partly a relatively weak SNP candidate.

    There are a considerable number of Labour MPs retiring. This gives the SNP an additional boost since as I've stated many times, some MPs retain their seats because they are good on constituency issues. With some new faces coming in, the voters may be tempted to try someone new.

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  • 42. At 11:37pm on 02 Feb 2010, snowthistle wrote:

    #39 Oldnat.
    Gordon Brewer picked up on your point about labours hypocrisy over their proposed referendum though he didn't get a very satisfactory reply.

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  • 43. At 00:07am on 03 Feb 2010, cwh wrote:

    Last word on GARL: Get the train from Central to Paisley Gilmour Street then bus to airport. Train: 6 per hour - journey time 10 min. Buses: Every 10 min.-journey time 10 min. Bus does NOT go anywhere near M8. Sorted. Cost zero. Problem: Not much use if you need to be at the airport for 4 am check-in like all the Holidaymakers who park in long stay car park and take the bus from there to Airport.

    BRIDGES: Adding extra lanes to existing bridges has been done before. In New Zealand extra lanes were added to the Auckland Bridge. Scottish Engineering Company involved in it and Japanese company built it. Known locally as Nippon Clip-on. In New york the George Washington bridge had a whole new span added under the existing bridge. Result - top span has road lanes going taking traffic in one direction, bottom span has lanes going in the other direction. Of course helps if the bridge was well built to begin with.

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  • 44. At 00:16am on 03 Feb 2010, oldnat wrote:

    Interesting to see that the LDs are just as opposed to facilitating the extension of autonomy in Wales as they are, despite their rhetoric.

    They really have become the most deceitful of parties.

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  • 45. At 01:00am on 03 Feb 2010, hamish42 wrote:

    Prof John Curtis was back to his usual sparky, smiling self last night on Newsnight Scotland speaking about election statistics. My memory from the same programme last week, when the Gordon Brewer was doing the PR job for Jim Murphy was that Curtis's demeanor and body langauge was a bit odd. Eyes continually blinking, unsmiling and chin down on his chest when he was speaking. My thought was, that he been coerced by the BBC into doing this mockery of a programme against his better judgement.

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  • 46. At 01:17am on 03 Feb 2010, oldnat wrote:

    45. hamish42

    I found it interesting that the issue of AV wasn't presented in terms more intelligible to Scottish viewers. We already have AV every time there is an LA by-election. They could have taken an actual AV election here and demonstrated AV via actual results instead of the "Haggis, Neeps, Tatties" nonsense.

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  • 47. At 01:20am on 03 Feb 2010, JTomlin wrote:

    I hadn't seen this before:

    Oh, dearie me.

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  • 48. At 01:31am on 03 Feb 2010, NewForfarian wrote:


    Why doesn't Professor C ever get a turn come Children In Need?

    I'd love to see him - and Tony King - do a song-and-dance routine.

    I might even dig ma hand in ma pooch and gie so'hin'!

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  • 49. At 01:43am on 03 Feb 2010, JTomlin wrote:

    Of course, BBC bias is purely cybernat paranoia.

    It made me chucke, but that might be the case in some quarters.

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  • 50. At 02:12am on 03 Feb 2010, oldnat wrote:

    49. JRMacClure
    "Of course, BBC bias is purely cybernat paranoia"

    Those of us who are "slightly more mature" (I dislike the term old unless in my monicker) remember when there was a Tory Government last century, and the complaints that the Beeb had a Tory bias.

    The reality is that the Beeb is dependent on the political status quo, they will support the governing UK party (whoever that is) and oppose any party that wants to end the UK. There are exceptions to that of course, and BBC Alba has managed to show resistance to that.

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  • 51. At 03:43am on 03 Feb 2010, JTomlin wrote:

    50. oldnat
    "I dislike the term old unless in my monicker"

    Didn't you choose your own moniker? Or did Mrs. Nat choose it for you? =)

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  • 52. At 08:31am on 03 Feb 2010, Ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    Iain Grey seems to be getting to put the boot in quite a lot just now, after hearing him on Radio Scotland this morning spitting out his dummy about GARL. I think Labour are setting themselves up for annihilation at the next Scottish election if they vote against this budget. The Lib Dems also will be in big trouble too if they abstain. Can neither of these two partys be grown up and play the game. Having just agreed to a demand from Labour to run a boiler scrapage scheme the SNP will be able to say to the electorate that no matter what we do, the Labour/Lib Dems just act like children. You would think this GARL project was some mighty project but i cant see its worth p*****g off the rest of the country with. The A96/A9 dueling would be far beneficial to tourism and Scotland in the long run.

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  • 53. At 08:49am on 03 Feb 2010, Velcro Gloves wrote:

    As a civil engineer I'm quite horrified by some of the comments on here about the Forth crossing. There have been extensive feasibility studies done and, yes, a new bridge is the only practical solution. The existing road bridge can be partially repaired but ultimately the problem is that the volume of traffic on it vastly exceeds what it was designed to take. The bridge has a very finite life that is being diminished every day that it takes huge volumes of traffic. As such, widening the bridge and increasing the load is a recipe for a Tay Bridge-esque disaster. No competent engineer would contemplate such a thing.
    As far as the idea of widening the rail bridge for road traffic goes, that's a new one on me. Even ignoring the fact that you'd probably have to level half of South Queensferry to get the access roads in, the rail bridge is barely up to the task of supporting modern rail traffic. If I remember correctly, trains have a low speed limit over the bridge to reduce the load. Of course it's also an iconic structure and is heavily listed so, even if it was feasible, good luck getting Historic Scotland to agree to the scheme.
    The fact is that a new crossing is needed and will have to be paid for. The sooner this is agreed, the sooner we can avoid the possibility of Fife's economy being destroyed.

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  • 54. At 09:15am on 03 Feb 2010, snowthistle wrote:

    "Grubby Scots Labour leader Iain Gray said: "The loss of GARL will cost Glasgow over 1300 jobs and £300million investment."

    Amusing mis-print from the DR, did Mr Gray forget to shower?

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  • 55. At 09:58am on 03 Feb 2010, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #39 oldnat
    "Incidentally, it would mean that Scotland would move from having four different voting systems to having five!"

    An interesting thought. I must confess that I had assumed they would replace all plurality elections plus the quasi-AV English mayoral elections with AV, but you appear to be quite correct that this is an additional system, meaning they'll also be up to four different systems in England, and six across the UK.

    In his speech yesterday, Duff Gordon said "because this is a major change in our democratic arrangements, we are today publishing the key clauses we are tabling as part of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill", which makes no such implication.

    But in the UK Parliament's Notices of Amendments given on Tuesday 2 February 2010 it states:
    "The question specified under subsection (2)(b) must ask voters whether they would prefer the alternative-vote system described in the Command Paper to be used for parliamentary elections instead of the existing voting system (commonly referred to as “first past the post”). Any form of words to that effect may be used."

    There is no mention of any "consequential" changes to other legislation (Part I of the Scotland Act 1998, for example defines both the "simple majority system" [sic] and the "additional member system" used for SP elections.

    More hastily and poorly thought out legislation, I think, but perhaps it will be further amended before the UK general election kills it.

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  • 56. At 10:20am on 03 Feb 2010, snowthistle wrote:

    There is something very strange going on over at Ian Hamilton's blog. Is anyone else having problems? I keep being redirected to a slightly dubious site.

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  • 57. At 10:28am on 03 Feb 2010, john wrote:


    Of course the AV voting system may help labour in tight tory-labour marginals, as it is a generally accepted view that L-D voters are more likely to give their alternative vote to labour than the tories.

    Trust brown to come up with a voting reform that will increase labour's chances (and then portray it as a magnanimous gesture)


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  • 58. At 10:36am on 03 Feb 2010, hamish42 wrote:

    #46 Oldnat

    It was fortunate that the the main Newsnight programme had just given a more in-depth analysis of the consequences of AV. I am far from being au fait on these things but what the politicians were saying was quite depressing. Hardly a change from the present system and it seems that the main priority for each of the parties is that they would improve their own position at the expense of the electorate getting a fairer system. The Liberals seem to want to go with AV (and Labour) because it's "a step forward". Another case of us being sold down the river.

    The "haggis, neeps and tatties" was abysmal. I wonder if it was Brian that thought that one up. If not perhaps he could tell us. It was interesting to see/hear the head of political activities at BBC Scotland in person, after suffering all his gross, behind the scenes manipulations, for so long.

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  • 59. At 10:45am on 03 Feb 2010, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Conan strikes again!

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  • 60. At 10:45am on 03 Feb 2010, bmc875 wrote:

    #56. My system (AVG Pro) tells me there is a live threat on Ian's site and 'strongly recommends' that I go elsewhere. I have not risked going back in to identify it.
    Looking like you may have been nobled Ian.

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  • 61. At 10:53am on 03 Feb 2010, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Conan strikes again!

    Had to refresh the page just now to be sure I was seeing straight, but after Cameron's threats yesterday re the BBC could someone have realised that there's a note about impartiality tucked somewhere under the BBC Trust's sofa? You might think so, with this website's Iraq inquiry: Brown 'guillotined' military spending.

    Certainly not good news for Duff Gordon, but don't expect the change to be noticed at Pacific Quay any time soon.

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  • 62. At 11:07am on 03 Feb 2010, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Political Betting have an interesting new thread on: Dare you bet that the Angus Reid algorithm is wrong?

    Angus Reid do use a very different "political identification" method to the other pollsters and show very much higher Tory leads for the UK than any other pollster. Their track record in Canada is very good, but clearly they won't be proved right or wrong before the UK general election.

    More's the pity that they have yet to do a Scotland poll, which might really set the cat amongst the pigeons. We can but hope that the Scottish Sun will commission one, since it seems highly unlikely that anyone else in the North British MSM will.

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  • 63. At 11:27am on 03 Feb 2010, oldnat wrote:

    62. Brownedov
    "they have yet to do a Scotland poll"

    True - but I'd place the caveat that they also weight by newspaper readership, so unless they properly contextualise that for Scotland, they could still be further out than they should.

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  • 64. At 11:27am on 03 Feb 2010, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Saw this comment on Political Betting and had to intrude on private grief: "Gordon Brown’s zarticle in the Guardian appears to be attracting negative comments from the Guarianistas. Some even think Gordon is not a man of his word."

    Certainly worth a look here.

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  • 65. At 12:03pm on 03 Feb 2010, john wrote:

    And that is supposed to be a friendly audience. Was struck by those who almost regretted having to have a go at him.


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  • 66. At 12:23pm on 03 Feb 2010, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #63 oldnat
    "but I'd place the caveat that they also weight by newspaper readership"

    Fair point, and I don't suggest for a moment that they would automatically get it right first time. Would be a refreshing change, though.

    What I do hope is that AR do prove the most accurate, not because it will result in a Tory victory but for the salutary effect such a victory would have on Scottish politics. Also, it might just persuade the BPC to insist that members publish their raw data so that we can all do our own weightings on our own, differing assumptions.

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  • 67. At 12:29pm on 03 Feb 2010, dubbieside wrote:

    Interesting typo in the official Labour press release paper, the Daily Record.

    Labour leader is discribed as "grubby Iain Gray" With friends like these!!!

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  • 68. At 12:46pm on 03 Feb 2010, Deasun1967 wrote:

    Life just gets weirder over at the Scotsman - "The reinstatement of the £60 million Glasgow Airport Rail Link..." But according to Iain Gray "the loss of Garl will cost Glasgow over 1,300 jobs and £300m investment." Apart from the ludicrous notion that its would require 1,300 people to build, run and maintain a few miles of railway track, if the investment is "only" £30 million (a figure plucked out of thin air to make the SG look unreasonable), £30 million divided by the putative 1,300 employees equates to £23,076 per person. So they could pay themselves a salary but nothing else. Can someone explain this to me?

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  • 69. At 2:34pm on 03 Feb 2010, Harry Stottle wrote:

    68. At 12:46pm on 03 Feb 2010, Deasun1967

    'Can someone explain this to me?'

    Well Garl Gray was a teacher at the time people were leaving school illiterate and inumerate.

    I wonder why.

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  • 70. At 2:45pm on 03 Feb 2010, Harry Stottle wrote:

    Global looked a broken man at PMQ's today, stuttering and mumbling and unable to give proper answer to anything.

    The man should stand down for the sake of his own health and for the sake of the Scottish nation.

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  • 71. At 4:42pm on 03 Feb 2010, Diabloandco wrote:

    " Grubby Scots Labour leader Iain Gray said: "The loss of GARL will cost Glasgow over 1300 jobs and £300million investment. It is not only a blow to the west of Scotland but will harm Scotland's competitive edge."

    How I laughed!

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  • 72. At 8:06pm on 03 Feb 2010, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    53. Velcro Gloves
    "As far as the idea of widening the rail bridge for road traffic goes, that's a new one on me. Even ignoring the fact that you'd probably have to level half of South Queensferry to get the access roads in, the rail bridge is barely up to the task of supporting modern rail traffic."

    It was thrown in as another angle, nothing more, but thanks for showing its flaws.

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  • 73. At 11:39pm on 08 Feb 2010, Auld Bob wrote:

    I have to wonder if a sustained campaign of complaints to Ofcom about media bias might yeild anything more than a good laugh?
    Their website is [Personal details removed by Moderator].

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  • 74. At 08:59am on 09 Feb 2010, Auld Bob wrote:

    Just what, "Personal Details", were removed? I gave the e-mail, fax and telephone number for, "OFCOM", that are all in the public domain.

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  • 75. At 8:27pm on 06 Mar 2010, Mike wrote:

    Auld Bob #87
    That ‘inbuilt thought process’ was exported, remember Robin William’s line (disguises as an old Scottish nanny) about England being an island (still a common misapprehension around the world). Mrs. Doubtfire claims to be from England, but spoke with a mostly Scottish accent with some Welsh influences. As you say Bob - these are perhaps not important issues, but do indicate that in the three hundred years of the Union, there has been little attempt by the powers that be to explain the real make-up of the UK or Great Britain.
    I remember years ago trying to explain to a German bank teller that coming from Glasgow did not make me ein Engländer as he insisted that I was. Mentioning theses many errors is considered petty but if it was a misconception concerning England it would be headline news and in the past a visit from a gunboat.
    Remember the War of Jenkins’s Ear, caused by an perceived insult to the honour of the nation.
    Kiwi Mike

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