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The deal is on

Brian Taylor | 16:31 UK time, Wednesday, 16 January 2008

As of this evening, we have at Holyrood the clear outline of a deal to allow the SNP to get their very first budget through the Scottish Parliament.

To reach that next level of financial stability, John Swinney has a range of options.

He can ask the audience: mustering public opinion behind his plans. He can go 50/50: compromising on aspects of his package in recognition of the Scottish Government’s minority status.

But, above all, he can phone a friend. He can win support from another party in order to ensure Holyrood backing for his plans.

And the emerging friend? The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. Isn’t politics wonderful?

The evidence for this? The finance committee report which provides valuable advice aplenty to ministers and parliament - but, in the final analysis, only suggests two firm changes to the budget.

MSPs want to enhance police recruitment - and they want to accelerate cuts in business rates. Those are key Tory demands. Advanced in the committee by Tories and backed by SNP members. Suggested Labour changes were all blocked.

John Swinney now says he will look closely at the committee’s recommendations. But, if he can find a way of giving ground on those key issues, he could be close to securing Tory votes when parliament as a whole delivers its verdict on the Budget Bill.

The Tory rationale? It’s in line with their standing strategy that they will seek to gain support for as many of their objectives as possible, that they are prepared to collaborate in order to secure their policies.

Labour says, scornfully, that the Tories have sold out cheaply, that they’re doing a deal without firm promises of action from ministers.

Sour grapes, say the Tories. There will be no agreement without precise pledges.

My estimation? The deal’s on.


  • 1.
  • At 04:56 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Ron Thoms wrote:

Just as we knew here in the N East,the Tartan Tories (SNP in disguise) are about to line up with the Tories,well,well what next we wonder.Are we going to see 1000 police or more lies from the SNP.They really are a sleazy bunch.No doubt the Trump application will go thru!!

  • 2.
  • At 05:01 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Badger wrote:

Standard horse trading. Thats what grown up parties do.

  • 3.
  • At 05:08 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Douglas Eckhart wrote:

The Tories in Scotland have come along way and do not show the bitter and twisted attitude that has turned so many people off the Labour Party.

The Tories of course oppose, as this is their job as the opposition, but the crucial point is they don't just oppose everything just for the sake of it, or for simple spite, like Scottish Labour. They look at all options and every government action on a case by case basis.

Labour should learn some lessons from this; the 'bitter and twisted' approach is not one that voters get off on.

  • 4.
  • At 05:25 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Stuart wrote:

Politics does indeed make for strange (if predictable) bed-fellows.

In the emerging and "maturing" climate of Scottish politics, it is noticeable that the SNP has matured more than most of late; although to be fair they did have some ground to make up.

Being in the minority they knew they had to reach out to other parties, and the emergence of common ground with the Conservatives was as readily and easily predicted as red cards at Tannadice.

What is most disappointing about the current Holyrood situation is that Labour have yet to mature into a constructive opposition. When the budget process started out, there were threats and admonitions from the Labour benches, the Conservatives made it clear they would work with any party on an issue by issue basis and the Liberal Democrats appear to have kept a low profile on the budget issue.

I hope and expect that Secretary Swinney will accede to the finance committees reasonable demands and proceed to push this bill through Parliament, 47 SNP + 16 Conservatives + 2 Greens = 65 votes and a budget passed.

Here’s hoping the Green’s don’t now try to demand a King’s ransom.

  • 5.
  • At 05:27 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Scott wrote:

All that whining, gnashing and headline grabbing by the opposition parties and their friends in the unionist media in actuality turns out to be a mighty 2 amendments! The LibDems are making no suggestions at all!!!!

Labour can hump around and throw all the toys they want, but they will never push this too hard. Which party is to lose out the most if a vote of no confidence passed and another election had to be called?

Hate to say it but the Tories are excelling themselves in their pragmatic and realistic opposition.

Scottish politics hasn't been this great in decades.

  • 6.
  • At 05:51 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • RTP wrote:

Yesterday. Tory/Lab/Lib how can we stop SNP all very cosy,now Tories have sold out cheaply Lab says,sour grapes say Tories and all good reading.Now Alex has been cleared about Trump will Nicol/slease say sorry doubt it very much.We even had Herald.Sun reporters saying it was more a damp squib what say you Brian.

  • 7.
  • At 05:54 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Seems Wendy’s ragbag of a coalition has crumbled already; appears that the SNP have possibly and unsurprisingly out manoeuvred Wendy and Nicol; as Labour evidently have no obvious replacement for Wendy is it to be more of the same embarrassing questions and political posturing or will Labour in London play their joker?

  • 8.
  • At 06:06 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Conway wrote:

I would have to agree that the Conservatives are proving to be a constructive opposition its what we the Scottish public are craving after. As for the Lib/Labs what are they for ?

Ron Thomas and his Tartan Tory line fails to see the irony in the Labour/ Liberal/Tory constitutional reform togetherness.
What are you going to call them,Ron?

  • 10.
  • At 07:34 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Gavin wrote:

Adult grown up politics, at least by some of the parties. Labour and LibDems still have to adapt to the new politics in Scotland, Labour in particular don't seem to be able to change from their threatening scare mongering, perhaps they had been in power so long they no longer are able to be constructive or at least pragmatic.

  • 11.
  • At 07:40 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • john duguid wrote:

when will the labour party start being. a real opposition why did they not put all these great policies they say is needed in scotland when in government.

  • 12.
  • At 07:53 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • L Telfer wrote:

At least the Tories appear to have a bit of interest in Scotland, unlike Labour who's objective seems to be to keep Gordon Brown in business.As for the Liberals , what are they for?

  • 13.
  • At 07:56 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Bill Mac wrote:

Anybody watching Ms Goldie has known that this was always going to be the scenario.

  • 14.
  • At 07:59 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • James wrote:

Well done John Swinney!

  • 15.
  • At 10:10 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Munro Ross wrote:

It seems labour and hte LaibDems have no idea how to operate in a minority government situation and still seem to think that the LabLib pact will get them through.

the budget that will now be passed reflects the SNP manifesto well and therefore the tired old jibe from Rom Thoms and the like calling us Tartan tories are anachronsitic and smack of the 1971s.

when will they learn that the lost the election in part becuase their scaremongering no longer works

  • 16.
  • At 10:33 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Ross McLean wrote:

So when Labour and the LibDems come to agreement with a full and costed programme for a 4-year term, that's a cynical stitch-up and a deceitful sell-out. But when the Tories and the SNP agree to work together on a single issue, but do so behind the scenes and with no published programme, it's mature sensible politics?

  • 17.
  • At 10:34 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Norman M wrote:

Poster no 5 Scottish politics has NEVER been this great before!

  • 18.
  • At 10:53 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • R.Ascal wrote:

The problem with this deal with the tories (not the first time the SNP and tories have joined forces) is the political drift to the right it signifies. A budget that sets growth, which is code for growing inequality, and promises tax cuts to business and a local income tax which will exempt the rich altogether leads to deals with the tories. It's just that the media would rather fawn over Salmond than scrutinise the policies.

Scott says: "Scottish politics hasn't been this great in decades"

So true Scott. I don't think anyone in the country can argue with that, except perhaps some members of the Labour Party, especially those with MSP after their names.

This Budget is almost home and dry which means the SNP is almost certainly to last till 2011, so we have to ask ourselves, why don't the opposition combine to defeat the budget and bring down the SNP Government?

Something to do with public opinion and poll results I think.

Talking of polls we now have 3 real polls coming up in the form of council by elections, 1 at the end of January and 2 in February on the 14th and 21st which adds even more interest to Scottish politics.

  • 20.
  • At 01:43 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Jimmy T wrote:

Interesting stuff. The deal looks sealed. Although I've never known what the fuss was about on how other parties will vote. THE snp didn't once vote against the budget. In fact they usually voted for it despite everything they said about how bad labour and lib dems were.

  • 21.
  • At 04:54 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • robert mcnaughton wrote:

With a careful and genuine apology, "deploring" that Scotland got the hated poll tax first, and an admittance that Thatcherism did not work for Scotland, (Ravencraig etc,) and with a strong attempt through Goldie and even Cameron to placate potential voters that the old days have gone and to give them a chance, that they will be fair and reasonable, I think the tories have a chance to regain some credibility from a very low base. A 21% share is not impossible.
If they further agree to a level of devolution that is actually viable and real, somehow keeping their English base onside, even perhaps saying when they get in charge some of the good things the Scots are doing in conjunction with tory policy will be brought online in England as well, then i think the liberals in Scotland may get squeezed by them, except in their highland seats due to their ineptitude to stand up for what is needed, and to argue on matters that are insignificant and irrelevant.
The labour vote and liberal vote is very soft, the tory vote base is harder and the snp vote is probably most secure.
Play it right and the days of no tory representation in Scotland as the ghost of Thatcherism is removed could be gone!

  • 22.
  • At 10:23 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Tom wrote:

The Tories and Tartan Tories climbing into bed together? It's hardly earth shattering news is it?

  • 23.
  • At 11:09 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • ian wrote:

Thirty years ago, Jimmy Reid said that "In Glasgow, an alabaster bust adorned with a Labour rosette can expect to win with a landslide majority". I used to vote Labour then but haven't done so since 1997. The SNP are not 'Tartan Tories' but seem to be maturing into a pragmatic party that can run a country. People like Gordon Brown, who for years feigned radicalism and masqueraded as a socialist, used the Labour Party as a means to get into power. He and his former student radical colleagues of the 1960s and 1970s are centralising Thatcherites and their New Labour is sleazy to the core.
New Labour are a busted flush and Westminster is corrupt. An independent Scotland with a population larger than the Republic of Ireland, will lead to a break up of the UK and pressure to break up Westminster's centralising power so Alex Salmond needs to watch his back. He can expect dirty tricks so get your budget sums right SNP.

  • 24.
  • At 11:15 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Colin wrote:

#22 - By the "tartan tories", I presume you mean the Scottish Labour Party and their "climbing into bed" on the constitutional review??

  • 25.
  • At 11:44 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Lachlan wrote:

The Nationalists should beware Tories bearing gifts!

  • 26.
  • At 11:44 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • little englander wrote:

Oh joy! I knew everyone in Scotland is a Tory at heart. As blue as the Flag of St Andrew. Together we can crush the evil Labour menace across the UK. I feel quite weepy! Pip pip

  • 27.
  • At 12:40 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Joe Honest wrote:

The SNP are not and never have been Tories. Labour in bed with the Tories and Lib/dems (no I do not know what the Whigs are for) in their imperialist Unionist guise will make Keir Hardy spin in his grave faster than the SNP making compromises to get a moderate left of centre budget passed. Labour and in particular Kerr MSP are now just sad.

  • 28.
  • At 12:43 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Ken wrote:

In times of minority government making alliances to move forward an agenda is par for the course.
The only reason the SNP don't work with Lab /Lib is that they cannot get past attacking the SNP on any and everything, whether it is justified or not.
I don't believe this will change until Labour get over the election loss and the fact that they don't 'own' Scotland ..... the people do.
I suspect that between Goldie in Scotland and Cameron in Westmister performing so well that both Labour and Liberals both north & south of the border need to start worrying about the number of voters they are losing.

  • 29.
  • At 12:45 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Peter D wrote:

We hoped the election of the SNP would correct the (UK) disaffection for so-called democractic politics, and it has. A breath of fresh air, and the conservatives deserve recognition for pragmatic cooperation. The 'L' parties appear to have no direction or strategy, possibly no surprise there then. Vive Alba!!

  • 30.
  • At 12:50 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • N Mackenzie wrote:

I'm creasing with laughter at the poster talking about the Tartan Tories, given what Tony Bliar did.
Can I ask then to ponder on Matthew 7 verse 5?

  • 31.
  • At 12:59 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Deasún wrote:

Tom et al - That tried old line simply doesn't wash anymore. After all, not only are the SNP implementing left-of-centre policies such as free prescriptions, (something that Labour has failed to deliver both at Holyrood and Westminster) but Labour, Tories and LibDems are now in FORMAL alliance. How can you seriously criticise the SNP Government for striking a putative one off budgetary deal when you are in formal alliance with the said party? That really is an untenable position.

And, of course, the substance of the deal is important. Can I presume that the Labour Party is now against extra police officers?

  • 32.
  • At 01:31 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Arthur Frampton wrote:

If this deal prevents the Greens from scuppering plans for the much-needed M74 extension then I don't care who is behind it. Diggers can't start work soon enough for me!

  • 33.
  • At 01:34 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • bill wrote:

Sour grapes from Scottish Labour? Shurely shome mishtake?
Aye and good-riddance to them. I for one hope that those spineless, idle, spongers never get back into power in Scotland. The SNP and even the tories actually care about this country's future, rather than just their own pockets and political careers.
Alex Salmond may not be perfect but the way he has managed to counter and retaliate against all the dirty tricks nulabour have thrown at him (and that's only the stuff we know about!) leaves me with nothing but admiration.

  • 34.
  • At 03:16 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • ron oliver wrote:

clearly anything right of the far left of the rump of the labour party is a tory as far as #22 is concerned. as long as the labour party remain in denial and appear in public and on the TV as a bunch of poorly educated and inatriculate numpties the SNP will move on from strength to strength. the liberals now realise they have backed a loser in Nicol and the conservatives recognise that they have to work for hte benefit of Scotland and not some notional Union to get recognition. the Greens are a one issue party but they support the goveernment when it suits them.
i have voted SNP since Winnie Ewing got in in Hamilton and it has taken a long time but i hope to see an independant Scotland before i shuffle off this mortal coil.

  • 35.
  • At 04:51 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Colin wrote:

Worrying for Labour and the LibDems I would imagine, that their 3 way union with the Tories - put together for the purpose of thwarting the SNP - appears to have lasted all of 5 minutes!

Well done the SNP and Tories for showing a bit of pragmatism and common sense. Unheard of in the last 10 years of Holyrood.

  • 36.
  • At 10:26 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Peter Forsyth wrote:

The Labour party line seems to be defending the vulnerable and needy, which party that has been in power for the last 50 years in Scotland created this situation? Labour politicians are showing themselves for what they are, ignorant and out of touch. Will anyone apart from their die hard support ever vote for them again?

  • 37.
  • At 02:28 PM on 18 Jan 2008,
  • Steve G wrote:

Whilst all the Nats have-a-go at Labour about sour grapes, and at the same time in good "Newspeak" fashion espouse their glorious Leader's (all hail Alex)new inclusive politics, they seem to ignore the fact that all of Labour proposed ammendments to the budget were REJECTED. Why?
How did the SNP find 2 bits of common ground with the Tories but rejected everything Labour had to contribute.

Was it spite?! Surely not! The SNP would never let personal grudge/spite etc get in the way of the greater good. Would they?

  • 38.
  • At 09:48 AM on 19 Jan 2008,
  • Anne wrote:


What exactly are you congratulating John Swinney for? Not that I am questionning that you should, of course. Just curious about the details!

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