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Deft governance

Brian Taylor | 15:16 UK time, Monday, 12 January 2009

The Scottish Government's website always repays inspection.

Apart from gripping statistics about sheep, one can find much to amuse and inform.

Right now, for example, the "splash" items (to borrow a term from my old newspaper days) concern hospital infection and efforts to help communities afflicted by unemployment.

So what, I hear you mutter. So this. The choice is not accidental. These two topics feature as key demands for enhanced financial assistance from, respectively, the Conservatives and Labour.

The health item refers to an announcement by Nicola Sturgeon about new measures to tackle hospital acquired infection.

No doubt, she is working on the outdated concept that you should leave hospital healthier than when you were admitted.

Action on HAI was item one on the shopping list being progressively advanced by the Tories as part of their price for backing John Swinney's Budget.

Other items may emerge in due course.

Think of it as a political Dance of the Seven Veils.

Tabloid touch

The other lead on the SG website is more intriguing still. It concerns PACE - Partnership Action for Continuing Employment.

The headline - Stepping up the PACE - speaks of a yearning for a light, tabloid touch.

What great development has occurred? For what has the front page been held? Well, nothing, really.

Ministers, it would seem, are "working to improve the support" provided by PACE.

Since all funded initiatives are, rightly, under semi-permanent review, one would have thought this to be a statement of the obvious.

Rather, though, it is a statement of intent.

Labour has demanded that PACE schemes be enhanced - as part of its contribution to the Budget debate.

In essence, ministers are saying with this website item: we hear, we act.

Mildly amused

Explicitly, they are saying to Labour: if you still can't sign up to our Budget, then don't attempt to blame us for ignoring your demands.

Now, of course, Labour wants more, much more.

It has set out a 15-point plan for reviving - or, at least, protecting - the economy.

John Swinney says he's implementing some of them, he'll have a look at others - but Labour cannot expect the full package.

For the avoidance of any doubt, I am not remotely complaining about the Scottish Government website.

It is deft governance to use every tool at your disposal to advance your objectives.

The Budget undoubtedly fits into that category.

Just thought you might be mildly amused, that's all.

PS: Well done to United for their 4-0 triumph over East Stirlingshire. I thoroughly enjoyed standing on a terracing once more, cheering on the lads. Great to see Sean Dillon has joined Lee Wilkie and Jon Daly in signing new contracts. Go for it, Willo Flood. Arabs everywhere salute you!


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