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Heroes of the hour

Brian Taylor | 19:17 UK time, Wednesday, 23 January 2008

It was tight. Very tight. And it could have been tighter still had the Campbell’s soup crisis turned out differently.

Let me explain. Nationalist MSP Aileen Campbell, the youngest member at Holyrood, spilled hot soup over her hand in the Parliamentary canteen at lunchtime.

Seriously scalded, she was whisked off to hospital where she was treated and given a tetanus jag. Duly bandaged, she returned to hospital where she - carefully - pressed the "yes" button on her desk when the vote was called.

With the Tories in favour, with Margo MacDonald also onside, with the Greens abstaining, it was enough - just. The budget was approved in principle by 64 votes to 62.

The government hero of the hour (Aileen Campbell apart)? Well, John Swinney of course for finding the words that enabled the Tories and Margo to vote with him while the Greens abstained.

But a lot of the hard work behind the scenes, as ever, was done by the business manager Bruce Crawford. He looked mightily relieved when the vote was announced.

So what’s next? Committee scrutiny (stage two) - then a Stage Three final vote. Tory support is only conditional for those.

As billed here earlier, they want more bobbies on the beat and swifter cuts in business rates. If they get, they vote yes. If they don’t get…..?

Other issues. Labour insists the budget falls short on key issues like skills training and, significantly, warned that they would blame the Tories as much as the SNP if, for example, the wished-for extra police fail to materialise.

Cue intriguing political battle ahead.

The Liberal Democrats say the budget is too opaque to support: for example, on the efficiency savings which are required to make the sums work. My guess is they abstain at stage three - but they sounded pretty unhappy during the debate and could vote "no".

What do the Greens get? A pledge that the air route development fund won’t be revived in another guise - and a guarantee that there will be a formal mechanism for testing the carbon impact of future spending measures.

And Margo? Her smile was as broad as can be when John Swinney confirmed that Edinburgh is to get extra cash under a move to recognise its unique status as Scotland’s capital.

So that’s that. The soup, you’ll want to know, was lentil and tomato.


  • 1.
  • At 07:49 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • djmac wrote:


There's nothing on your blog post that I did not hear on Beeb Radio!!

No attempt at analysis.

No attempt at speculation.

No attempt at provocation.

And you call yourself a colleague of Chick Young??

Shane, shame!!

  • 2.
  • At 08:06 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Norman M wrote:

Ahh, Brian. Quips, as always, amusing!
I had a Chinese tonight, me.

  • 3.
  • At 08:30 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • L Telfer wrote:

I hope it was organic soup or the greens will not be pleased, and how much energy was expended heating it to such a dangerous temperature.

  • 4.
  • At 08:40 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • derek barker wrote:

Margo's embargo or Campbell's hot tomato's,the stage is set and another mile stone in history is cast,it looks like wee wendy is making no impact and all around the country the voters are saying just ditch the new and bring on the way did i see 18,000 police take their industrial dispute on to the streets of london today?how many ex miners watched that?

  • 5.
  • At 08:45 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • george alexander wrote:

Yet more coverage of the non story (Trump) on the BBC Website Scottish politics section as well as Radio and T.V. Incredibly, it is reported that this enquiry are now demanding to speak to representatives of Trump.

God almighty, will anyone stop these people before they completely ruin what reputation Scotland has as a place to do business.

Putting Salmond on 'trial' in order to satisfy their craving to smear him is one thing. However smearing potential investors and then demanding that they also face the 'mob' to defend themselves is outrageous.

Are there any journalists anywhere who are curious as to what the Electoral Commission have been doing for over two months?

  • 6.
  • At 08:54 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Keith, West Lothian wrote:

Yes, interesting and marvellous. I'd be more interested in you answering this question. What were you doing with your hands on the 6:30 news? You were waving them all over the place. I didn't manage to listen to what you were saying for watching you hands (watching and listening is multi-tasking for me). You don't usually do that do you? Macaroni cheese for me tonight. Decided to eat it rather than wear it though.

  • 7.
  • At 08:54 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • hamish grant wrote:

Brian said:-

with the Greens abstaining, it was enough - just."

What do you mean-just? It was a win, wasn't it??

Sorry if it deflated your unionist persuasions Brian-sounds like you, once again, have had the wind taken out of your sails by the "nasty SNP upstarts."

If it goes on like this Brian, your employers, the Bean Broadcasting Co will be blaming you personally for the SNP's seemingly unstoppable progress towards eventual secession from this accursed union!

Feart to print this, Brian?

  • 8.
  • At 09:58 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Badger wrote:

I'll tell you what....a minority Government facing the tightest budget settlement in Scottish Parliament history and also facing the bitterest of pit oot opponents and they're still getting stuff through!!

Ye've got to admire them

  • 9.
  • At 10:08 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Glen Dempsford wrote:

I hope Aileen is alright, she's my MSP and is a great one at that! That labour lot and those stupid little lib-dems! This is like the clinton good-cop bad cop!

The lib dems know they can never win an election (like bill clinton) so they go on the angry attack and say what labour would love to say!

Perhaps Miss Campbell should through some soup around that chamber for stage 3!

  • 10.
  • At 10:22 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • ron m wrote:

George wrote:-

Incredibly, it is reported that this enquiry are now demanding to speak to representatives of Trump."

I agree-I also believe the SNP will say "enough is enough!"

This "country" is once again the laughing stock of the western world! Unfortunately, it is the working people who will suffer most through lack of investment by others in our industries.

  • 11.
  • At 10:23 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • neil wrote:

does anyone in the opposition really want to do anything that may cause the SNP to call an election.
I think the sigh came from the lib dems and labour sides.

  • 12.
  • At 10:28 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • neil wrote:

does anyone in the opposition really want to do anything that may cause the SNP to call an election.
I think the sigh came from the lib dems and labour sides.

  • 13.
  • At 10:59 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Conway wrote:

Pity i was hoping for a Scottish Election ,and get rid of these usless Labour/Lib Msp's...

  • 14.
  • At 11:15 PM on 23 Jan 2008,
  • Steve A wrote:

With 22,000 cops on the street,over distrust of the government,council tax in england set to rise ,northen rock fiasco,addiction to nuclear energy and weapons,post offices closing, communities divided,wendygate,peter haine etc and an economy that is set to implode what does Gordon Brown say to the scottish people? It would be really bad for scotland to be independant.This guy could learn a few lessons from alex salmond who has only been in charge for 9 months unlike the 10 years that brown has had.I predict alex will be in charge far longer than gordon.Oh! and to the bias media please drop the trump rubbish the scottish people are not as daft as you would like to think.I think its safe to say that gordon and wendy have have landed themselves In the soup!

  • 15.
  • At 12:54 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Katty wrote:


You did not get in your Tartan Tories today. or your Tartan Galluses. Maybe you left that to Browne and Cairns at Scottish Question.Well I say just as long as they are tartan
Unlike, that labour front bench lot down in London. All Scottish accents, but not even a tartan belt to their name

I see Alex took the top Politic slot
on channel 4. Top 2 were groups.
Lets hear it for the Man Brian

  • 16.
  • At 01:09 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Jack Paterson wrote:

I have to confess that I may be veering towards Labour after today's events.

The SNP have pledged only 1000 police on our streets after 4 years.

Labour managed to get 22,000 out on the streets of London in ONE day.

Now, you have to admit that's impressive.

  • 17.
  • At 01:13 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Fiona wrote:

Why did the BBC news 'bury' this story on the 6.30 bulletin?

Is it embarrasing to see our national Government make their mark?

I watch STV by preference these days - I find them more balanced somehow. The Trump piece was pitiful (but then you would need to justify the expense of crew and non-reporter getting a 'jolly' to the USA wouldn't you?)

For pity's sake, stop playing second fiddle to London and give us the REAL Scottish news rather than the Nu-Lab press releases!

  • 18.
  • At 08:14 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • infidel wrote:

A narrow victory!
If they had lost by one vote it would have been a resounding defeat.

  • 19.
  • At 09:04 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Paul Marshall wrote:

It looks as though Labour are turning into the London Tories...just disagreeing simply to disagree.

Boil-in-the-bag Spag bol.

  • 20.
  • At 09:39 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Brian wrote:


In your third paragraph, you claim that the hapless MSP returned to hospital duly bandaged and voted.

Do the rules allow for voting outwith the chamber or is "hospital" your term for Holyrood i.e. a building full of people in need of care and attention?

  • 21.
  • At 09:43 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Anon wrote:


What do you expect Brian to say? A glorious, resounding victory. It was a win - just. That is exactly what it was. Where does "nasty SNP upstarts" come from? Are you trying to pass that off as a direct quote?

SNP supporters on this blog really do their party no favours by seeming consistently petty and paranoid, always seeking some hidden agenda when there really is none.

"Fear to print this?" You're deluded. You aren't revealing any great truths. You just look silly.

  • 22.
  • At 11:19 AM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • Murphy wrote:

what kind of soup requires a tetanus shot?

  • 23.
  • At 01:34 PM on 24 Jan 2008,
  • The frustrated brigade wrote:

This is no win or lose by any party. Its just another example of their tacit agreement not to rock the gravy train...or soup...just yet.

  • 24.
  • At 01:34 PM on 27 Jan 2008,
  • Joe, Maastricht, The Netherlands wrote:

I have just read through the Sunday newspapers, the Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, News of the World and the Observer and not one of them mention this critical budget in Scotland!!.

I have always raised a sceptical eyebrow to complaints from Scottish bloggers that the media is a Londoncentric animal, well I hold my hand up and say you may well have a point.

To put this into context my Local Dutch sunday paper did mention the budget, and even had half a page on the ongoing political donation scandals on both sides of the border.

Now after spending 21 euros on the papers, I am off to the pub to watch some football and recover from my heroic newspaper reading!.

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