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A question of power

Brian Taylor | 10:46 UK time, Monday, 18 April 2011

It is, in essence, a power game. In demanding - and getting - a council tax freeze, John Swinney made local authorities an offer they couldn't refuse.

If they were good, they were spared savage cuts in spending. But if they were bad.......

Again considering the balance of power, one can sympathise with the leaders of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities who are now kicking up a fuss about the sundry freezes on offer to the voters in the Holyrood elections.

Hang on, they say. MSPs don't set the council tax. Local authorities do. Holyrood leaders can promise a freeze for two years, five years or a century. It's still up to councils.
It must be truly galling to watch from the sidelines as one set of elected politicians battle over a power which lies with others.

So, one can sympathise - up to a point. Firstly, it's up to councils, individually, not collectively. Holyrood doesn't set the council tax - but nor does COSLA.

John Swinney's offer as the Finance Secretary in the SNP government was delivered collectively at Holyrood - but it applied individually.

Each council was entirely free to plump for penury instead of largesse in terms of central government grants, thereby pushing up the council tax for their own citizens. It was a fully free - if less than palatable - choice.

Secondly, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, Holyrood is a law-making Parliament, not an over-sized local authority. Holyrood sets the budget for Scottish local authorities.

Three options

Holyrood, ultimately, has the power to decide which services are run by councils - or not.

In this election, we have a range of offers which might impinge on local authority clout. For example, the notion of merging social care with the NHS. Or various ideas for giving greater power to individual schools.

So, to be blunt, Holyrood has three options when faced with recalcitrant councils.

MSPs can stuff their mouths with money (to borrow the rather hideous phrase derived from the assuaging of consultants at the foundation of the NHS.)

Or they can legislate to enforce a freeze - or, indeed, a different system of local authority funding entirely. Or they can remove powers from local government, shifting the financial burden to central government - and thereby driving a back-door freeze or cut.

Smiling benignly, the would-be financial godfathers in this election will all stress that they don't want to be so brutal. They don't want to impose. They want to work with councils. They want agreement.

But it goes without saying that they also want to deliver their manifesto promise. Ideally, by concordat, historic or otherwise. Implicitly, by dictat, if necessary.
Here, the parties depart from each other.
Among the majors, the Liberal Democrats are the most reluctant. They dislike the concept of imposing a freeze which breaches local authority autonomy - but offer one, frankly, in order to match the other parties.

Prevailing circumstances, they say, drive their decision.

Their distinctive offer, pending Local Income Tax, is to offer to scrap the tax for the poorest pensioners, those earning below £10k.

The Tories backed a freeze in the last Parliament - and are offering to extend it for a further two years, followed by local plebiscites if a council plans an increase above the rate of inflation.

They are also offering a £200 council tax discount for households where all the adults are pensioners.

Then Labour and the SNP. Labour is a relatively late convert to the cause of freezing the council tax. But, with the zeal of the convert, they insist they would make a better job than the SNP.

They are offering to freeze the tax for the next two years - and say that they would "fully fund" such a decision, arguing that the SNP fell short.

That assertion is disputed by the SNP who say that, in some years, the cost of a freeze was, if anything, over-funded. Their manifesto pledges to extend the freeze throughout the next Parliament.
The SNP's biggest pitch is to say that they delivered a freeze throughout the past Parliament - when there were comparable warnings of doom from the councils and forecasts of failure from others.

Further, they say they would use the five years of the next Holyrood term to prepare the ground for Local Income Tax - once enhanced powers, over income tax and council tax benefit, have been devolved.

Now, of course, these Holyrood elections are not the end of the matter. There are local council elections next year.

If a further freeze is on course, then those councillors who feel especially aggrieved can use the hustings next year to promise that they will contest such a freeze in their locality with all the power they can muster.

No doubt their Holyrood colleagues will wish them loadsaluck with that.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    It’s election time: think of a number, a big number

    The moral of this story Labour and finances don't mix.

  • Comment number 2.

    Would you have us believe if the money given by the SNP government to offset the council tax freeze was less than the tax receipts themselves would have been 32 councils would have signed up for it for 4years.I think that is being asked to stretch ones imagination just a little too far on a Monday morning However the real question is who is more capable at running our countries finances Again I feel it would be a great leap of faith to think Andy Kerr and his questionable maths would be more adept than John Swinney

    I am surprised (there again maybe not) that there is not one mention of the poll out yesterday.I realise it is not policy to show the SNP in a positive without arms being twisted

  • Comment number 3.

    Brian,

    It's somewhat surprising that you don't mention in your article that Cllr. Pat Watters, COSLA's president is a Labour party councillor or that, in so much as he said anything at all comprehensible in yesterday's "economics debate", Labour's Mr Kerr admitted that Council Tax would rise following the two year freeze.

    It would seem that Labour party policy is actually to promise the two year freeze because it believes it has no hope of returning to government unless it soes but that Messrs. Watters and Kerr are determined raise it as soon as the 2011 and 2012 elections are "out of the way".

    By the way, your Mr Glenn Campbell was woeful in his role of moderating the debate in at least three areas: choice of questioners, allocation of air time to the five speakers and - worst of all - in preventing speakers - Mr Kerr especially - from interrupting answers being given by other speakers. This bodes extremely ill for the BBC Scotland "leaders debate" on 1 May.

    If the BBC's staff education budget is overspent and you cannot afford to give Mr Campbell the training he so clearly needs, perhaps you would ensure that he studies the video of Mr Ponsonby magnificent performance in the role of moderator at STV's first "leaders debate" - see here. You could give him a test on it afterwards to be check he's ready. Failing that, you could ask Mr Ponsonby if his diary is free on the 1st, of course.

  • Comment number 4.

    We're having some problems posting your comment at the moment. Sorry. We're doing our best to fix it.

    Why?

  • Comment number 5.

    The sickening PFI profiteerers leeching funds out of the public sector

    'Private Finance Initiative (PFI) profiteering has hit a new low. It is a disgrace that private companies such as HSBC are hoarding massive PFI profits, milked from cash-strapped schools and hospitals, in tax havens.'

  • Comment number 6.

    Many of the local authorities were (and are) too busy politicking to see the council tax freeze for what it could have been - a gilt edged opportunity to increase efficiency in a controlled manner over an extended time frame with definite targets.
    Instead, many councils have opted to cut services and stay fat, dumb and happy in terms of their manpower levels and processes.
    While we have such a reliance on the public sector as a nation, this will continue.

  • Comment number 7.

    BBC Scotland's propaganda campaign, on TV, on radio and online, in promoting Scottish Labour is badly floundering.

    Even the Daily Record is having extreme trouble in convincing its own readership that Iain Gray and co are the real deal.

    I have to say Brian that your own recent efforts reveal the growing desperation withing Pacific Quay.

    Voters are not blind nor deaf to what is going on in the Scottish media.

    You cannot make a Holyrood silk purse out of Scottish Labour's pigs ear, no matter how you try.







  • Comment number 8.

    Cutting taxes is the Tory race to the bottom on ruining sevices. Tartan Tory also (if there is any real distinction now that the SNP has dropped "independence").

    Those councillors who want to lift any council tax freeze should make the case for better services.... there's plenty of room now that the main parties, especially the SNP and the Tories, want the cuts in services to be permanent.

  • Comment number 9.

    Radio Scotland has given a fair bit of coverage to the Chief Executive of COSLA this morning.

    The words that come to mind are:

    prams and toys.

    Given that the only party to have put a successful freeze in place, is the SNP, the real target may well be his so-called friends in Labour, since the Tories and FibDems cannot play a leadership role in this.

    That said, every point he was making could be sensibly addressed by the political parties, so I assume this was really just a bit of muscle-flexing.

    Where has the weegreychickencarcrash happened today??

    (I know, I know, - wherever he is.)

  • Comment number 10.

    In case radio Scotland/Labour missed it.

    YouGovs's Sunday polling

    Constituency vote: CON 11%(nc), LAB 37%(-2), LDEM 8%(+3), SNP 40%(nc)
    Regional vote: CON 12%(nc), LAB 33%(-6), LDEM 7%(+2), SNP 35%(+3), Green 6%(nc)

  • Comment number 11.

    BTW, the whole idea of a council tax freeze is a con.

    If you don't pay for services through the council tax, you pay for them through your income and other taxes.

    But the £70 million that the SNP has been bribing/threatening councils with can only be spent once, and if it's keeping the council tax frozen, it's not delivering schools, hospitals etc.

    The result, whichever way you cut it, is reduced services.

    Which suits Tories, whether hewn from true-blue cloth or from a highland checked plaid design....

  • Comment number 12.

    Given the cuts due in the coming years, a council tax freeze is actually maintaining spending levels for local authorities as opposed to cutting them, lets face it if there wasnt a freeze there would have to be a cut. Even if Councils could put up the tax they wouldnt be able to collect it and would probably spend even more money on legal support trying to force people into paying something that would be beyond their capabilities. The electorate live in the real world, Councils need to grow up and live in it too.

  • Comment number 13.

    11. At 13:03pm 18th Apr 2011, BloominEck wrote:

    'But the £70 million that the SNP has been bribing/threatening councils with can only be spent once, and if it's keeping the council tax frozen, it's not delivering schools, hospitals etc.'

    PFI for you then is it, burdening future generations to pay for your self interest.

  • Comment number 14.

    The vastly inflated price paid for council services we can no longer afford is a direct result of Labours spendthrift days when at the helm of Government. Both at Holyrood and Westminster.

    It is now a necessity to ensure we can afford the facilities and services we need, not what we would like. The freeze can do this, but only if the councils start to focus their minds on priorities and not their own vanity projects.

  • Comment number 15.

    Brian,

    Not a bad idea, scrapping the local councils - we have enough surplus MSPs to fill in the essential part of their work, whilst still providing the voting cannon fodder necessary under our present voting system.

    The paid Financial Execs. should be able to provide all the information necessary to the MSPs for the administration and maintenance of essential services: National Health, Social Services/Welfare, Education, Cleansing, Water/Sewage, Police, Fire Service, etc. etc. and Central Government could be required to foot the bill out of National Taxation.

  • Comment number 16.

    #11. At 13:03pm 18th Apr 2011, BloominEck wrote:
    'Which suits Tories, whether hewn from true-blue cloth or from a highland checked plaid design....'

    How Tory is a party that commits to a 2 year council tax freeze then?

  • Comment number 17.

    #4

    cheesed iv, had the same problem, and worse. after spending considerable time draughting a blog to find the same. and .entry now closed.

    and equaly frustrating is when a thread is quite healthy ,and in a forum mode,and while in full flight for no apparant reason is uncerimoniousley axed!

  • Comment number 18.

    8. At 12:26pm 18th Apr 2011, BloominEck wrote:
    the SNP has dropped "independence"

    Is that in quotes because its wrong ?.

  • Comment number 19.

    So the SNP deliver a freeze that has resulted in OAP's not having to find extra savings to fund their council tax - for four years.

    labour and others have fought this tooth and nail for four years.

    The public have intimated strongly to pollsters they like this policy championed and implemented by the SNP.

    Then all of a sudden labour say they will do the same and better.

    Scots are stupid, they can see through labour and bbc insincerity!

    This union is not working!

    C Mck

  • Comment number 20.

    11. At 13:03pm 18th Apr 2011, BloominEck wrote:
    Which suits Tories, whether hewn from true-blue cloth or from a highland checked plaid design....

    Ah, I see, your selling the idea that SNP are Tories and your proof is the Council
    Tax Freeze... which would also mean Labour are Tories are SNP....

    Be careful once you've proved black is white youre in great danger on
    Zebra crossings.

  • Comment number 21.

    Mr Taylor, if you are going to start analysing policies can you please take a look at Labours policies on law & education?

    There was a very good article in the Times last week. It stated

    "Labour policies have come under sustained attack from teaching unions & Scottish Lawyers. One senior advocate described Labour proposal on rape as "the most bizzare criminal justice proposal I have herd of by a Scottish politician, Mr Grays suggestion was a very dangerous road to go down"

    Teachers union said the Gray's policy of parachuting in 1000 graduate teachers into schools for literacy & maths might prove unworkable & could even break employment laws."


    Also, can you tell me why on the party "manifesto launch main news story" on this site for each of the four main party videos you do a talk over for the Tories, Labour & Libdems but not the SNP?

    You instead choose to interrogate the First Minister on the council tax freeze!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-13097569

    Page titles are also odd, here they are in the order the come..

    "Scottish Tories unveil manifesto"

    "Lib dems launch "job" manifesto"

    "Labour outlines manifesto pledges"

    "SNP vow five-year council tax freeze"

  • Comment number 22.

    #11

    Why not ongoing increased efficiencies, surley not a quantum leap!!

    Regards Tom

  • Comment number 23.

    Of course we have to remember that on occasions COSLA can be a political animal, bear in mind that it is not Pat Watters that is speaking here. Yes there has to be a question of local accountability, but against this we have had all too many examples of councils with different Council Tax rates delivering much the same services.
    It is also noteworthy that 11 Councils leaders have just issued a joint statement that they support the extension of the Council Tax Freeze, ok they are all SNP led councils, but if they can welcome it then why cannot others?

  • Comment number 24.


    Anything that reduces the extent to which the Scottish economy depends on the public sector is a good thing.

  • Comment number 25.

    #8

    "E" lad BLOOMIN Eck tartan tories have dropped independece.

    ye would be wrong on both counts the SNP voters are made up from the full spectrum of all parties i voted labour for 40 years now SNP,since devolution, and many more are doing the same.can you blame them.

    as for dropping independence. [ are you having a laugh ] it will be their ace in the hole when this westminster government crumbles. stop readin the daily retard!

  • Comment number 26.

    After just watching an eminent professor on the main bbc news saying that the scottish and welsh vote an av could alter the english vote . How did we end up with a tory / liberal coalition when we have only one tory mp. Is this not another reason for more devolution of power ?

  • Comment number 27.

    #8 And #25 Independence??
    Which of the currently Unionist Parties will be the first to embrace Independence? When Cameron creates an independent Scottish Conservative Party what will they do where will their policies go. Bet on the Scottish Tories being born again supporters of independence. It would please Cameron.

  • Comment number 28.

    @2
    I cant speak for the other 31 councils, but yes, the money given by Scottish Government was less than the money wh ich could have been raised by a CT increase in line with inflation. Our council has been cutting back for 4 years, due to the Council Tax freeze, depsite the cost of everything the council needs to buy going up.

  • Comment number 29.

    @13
    What do you make of the recent noises coming out of the Scottish Futures Trust that their new financing model will be very close to a version of PFI/PPP ?

    No new schools authorised since 2007....

  • Comment number 30.

    26. At 15:21pm 18th Apr 2011, brian wrote:

    After just watching an eminent professor on the main bbc news saying that the scottish and welsh vote an av could alter the english vote .

    Heard this on radio 4, apparently its not a real referendum if only a few Londoners
    bother to vote !.

  • Comment number 31.

    It's time that COSLA and the councils realised that what they can spend is up to the electorate, not the Labour party or the councils' unions. If the electorate decide to let the councils have free rein to spend more and more money and raise the council tax in proportion, then they will vote Labour. If the electorate think the councils have failed to spend the cash they have wisely, then they will vote otherwise. Which services are cut, is a matter for the individual councils, but it seems that the cuts always involve essential services, but never the ones that can be done without, payoffs likewise , always seem to be from the lower end of council pay scales, but never from the top heavy and over expensive executive.

  • Comment number 32.

    The Hootsman (yes that East Coast Rag) is claiming that Beeb Scotland held an economic debate last evening amongst the main parties Finance proponents.

    Yet, nary a sign on the Beeb website.

    I wonder why??

    Andy Kerr joining the weegreychicken in car crashing??

    We demand to be told!!

  • Comment number 33.

    #31 We also elect our local councils. If the public oppose council tax changes then why can't we have this debate at those elections. Your point makes no sense.



    As an aside I think that this is a good decision for one reason, with the impending cuts which are coming we need to protect against reactionary councils, who don't have an interest in the big picture of the national economy, simply putting up taxes to replace their losses.

    All levels of government are spending more money than they are bringing in. Regardless of where we do it we need to cut spending to resolve this gap (as increasing taxes doesn't really raise tax incomes that much).

    I think it's a little rich of the SNP to protest that the whole economic problem is Labours fault (which it is) for spending too much money and then equally complain that they are facing cuts. If they think the government was spending too much then why do they oppose not spending as much anymore?

    I also think that it's legitimate to say that the SNP and Labour haven't handled the councils in the best way here. Dictating a policy which isn't theirs to decide isn't a good way to get the councils on side, which they should want because working together is a good thing. All the parties could have behaved more constructively over this, but ultimately (in light of the upcoming cuts to public expenditure) it's the right policy and I'm glad that all of the major parties are supporting it.

  • Comment number 34.

    29. At 15:55pm 18th Apr 2011, John Ruddy wrote:

    @13
    What do you make of the recent noises coming out of the Scottish Futures Trust that their new financing model will be very close to a version of PFI/PPP ?

    I've heard that there are fairies at the bottom of my garden but no evidence to confirm it as fact.

  • Comment number 35.

    #29, stop peddling lies John Ruddy, I'm an engineer with Glasgow City Council and we currently have a couple of new School projects under design (pre-tender) which only started in the last few months under the Scottish Futures Trust funding model.

  • Comment number 36.

    Brian,

    As my #3 has been referred for not being economical with the truth, I'll try a bowdlerised version....

    It's somewhat surprising that you forgot to mention in your article that Cllr. Pat Watters, COSLA's president, is a Labour party councillor or that, in so much as he was comprehensible in yesterday's "economics debate", Labour's Mr Kerr effectively admitted that Council Tax would rise following the two year freeze.

    It appears that Labour party policy is actually to promise the two year freeze because it believes it necessary for electoral reasons but that Messrs. Watters and Kerr are united in wishing to raise it as soon as the 2011 elections and perhaps also the 2012 ones are "out of the way".

    In respect of the "economics debate", which can hardly be considered off topic since discussion of Council Tax was central to it, it is a pity that your Mr Glenn Campbell didn't spend some time learning from Mr Ponsonby's magnificent performance in the role of moderator at STV's first "leaders debate". Mr Campbell performed poorly in the role when introducing the five speakers, in allocating air time to them and in failing to prevent interruptions of answers being given by some of the speakers. This does not bode well for the BBC Scotland "leaders debate" on 1 May.

  • Comment number 37.

    Brian, it is somewhat disappointing to see that you have not even mentioned the Green party policy of introducing a Land Value Tax. This would be a much fairer tax than either the iniquitous Council Tax or the proposed Local Income Tax. You're not sitting on a big plot of land for investment purposes and writing it off against tax, are you Brian?

  • Comment number 38.

    Re No 37,

    Of course he is!!

    BT owns all of Dundee (well at least that part owned by the arabs!!), don't ye ken??

  • Comment number 39.

    #27 portcharlotte

    as alex says i think rocks will melt "wi" the sun before that happens and as another scots lassie yous,d to sing " one day at time"!

  • Comment number 40.

    I have been reading all these comments for some time now and just don´t know where to start!
    First we have to come to terms with the fact that the Scottish parliament was set up by Unionist statiticians who have engineered the system such that no single party can get a majority in Holyrood. Then no matter who controls Westminster, Scotland will be irrelevent to them. The lesson should have been learned from the devolution vote in the 70´s when the 40% rule was imposed. Yes, imposed. I immediatly saw the consequencies but the "Fors" still went ahead in a losing battle, clutching at straws. One of the reasons I left and the "79 Group" left...no one would listen thinking things would go their way. I said we should not campaign but, reject the terms. A losing battle was fought...again! Always the blind leading the blind and falling into the same old trap.
    Oh! Question Time. How I squirmed when Nicola missed a golden opportunity to make a "haymaker" over Labour. When asked where Alex and Kenny were, why not on the panel. Well, I don´t remember seeing a serving party leader on the programme (maybe I am wrong..and not for the first time). I noticed the panel comprised, as usual, nearly all MSP´s, but the Labour rep. was Douglas Alexander...a Westimnister MP...on the panel. I remember that, when the programme comes from Scotland, the Labour camp always bring a panelist from Westminster. Why? Yes they are so afraid to put one of the incompetent MSP´s on in case they mess it up. No question then where Scottish labour is controlled from. Why do the Westminster MP´s and leaders have to come up to Scotland and interfere in a Scottish election that will not affect them? If we sent Scottish Socialists or SNP people down to England to interfere in their constituency elections I think all Hell would break out.
    I am a wee bit wary about sustaining the council tax and university fees as reason tells me that it cannot go on for ever. All parties should recognise this and put a rider on their manifestos that sane people in the country will understand. Owing to the current financial situation, changes could possibly happen. It does not matter what party ends up in control, CUTS WILL HAPPEN.
    In the case of councils, there are a few hard facts to contemplate. They cannot go on with the present staffing levels with over-staffing caused by empire building by little Hitlers who try and maintain their departments by numerical means. I remember hearing a council worker on Radio Scotland saying

  • Comment number 41.

    #1, I see that BBC Scotland are investigating knife crime statistics.

    Perhaps they will discuss the story that you linked to? The story where an in independent statistics organisation say that Labour's figures on knife crime costs are "fantasy".

    I think that deserves an investigation.

  • Comment number 42.

    41. At 18:10pm 18th Apr 2011, AMJHAJ wrote:

    'The story where an in independent statistics organisation say that Labour's figures on knife crime costs are "fantasy".'

    Labour live in La La land and will commission x number of consultations until they get one that suits there skewed way of thinking.

  • Comment number 43.

    Evening all,

    Not too many posts lately- busy & on the real NEWS site on the NET. Popped in to have a look & noticed John Ruddy has taken up residence under the bridge.

    Apart from not declaring he's a Labour agent, he is also prone to forget in which area he actually lives (must be due to the boundary changes).

    The above is not illegal, of course and I do not mean any offence to the individual concerned but it's useful to know when debating where the allegiances lie, eh?

    Toodles,
    gt

  • Comment number 44.

    I have been reading all these comments for some time now and just don´t know where to start!
    First we have to come to terms with the fact that the Scottish parliament was set up by Unionist statiticians who have engineered the system such that no single party can get a majority in Holyrood. Then no matter who controls Westminster, Scotland will be irrelevent to them. The lesson should have been learned from the devolution vote in the 70´s when the 40% rule was imposed. Yes, imposed. I immediatly saw the consequencies but the "Fors" still went ahead in a losing battle, clutching at straws. One of the reasons I left and the "79 Group" left...no one would listen thinking things would go their way. I said we should not campaign but, reject the terms. A losing battle was fought...again! Always the blind leading the blind and falling into the same old trap.
    Oh! Question Time. How I squirmed when Nicola missed a golden opportunity to make a "haymaker" over Labour. When asked where Alex and Kenny were, why not on the panel. Well, I don´t remember seeing a serving party leader on the programme (maybe I am wrong..and not for the first time). I noticed the panel comprised, as usual, nearly all MSP´s, but the Labour rep. was Douglas Alexander...a Westimnister MP...on the panel. I remember that, when the programme comes from Scotland, the Labour camp always bring a panelist from Westminster. Why? Yes they are so afraid to put one of the incompetent MSP´s on in case they mess it up. No question then where Scottish labour is controlled from. Why do the Westminster MP´s and leaders have to come up to Scotland and interfere in a Scottish election that will not affect them? If we sent Scottish Socialists or SNP people down to England to interfere in their constituency elections I think all Hell would break out.
    I am a wee bit wary about sustaining the council tax and university fees as reason tells me that it cannot go on for ever. All parties should recognise this and put a rider on their manifestos that sane people in the country will understand. Owing to the current financial situation, changes could possibly happen. It does not matter what party ends up in control, CUTS WILL HAPPEN.
    In the case of councils, there are a few hard facts to contemplate. They cannot go on with the present staffing levels with over-staffing caused by empire building. By the way, I don´t remember hearing bleating from the Tory councils in England about the cuts...maybe I am wrong again.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    @cheesed off
    "PFI for you then is it, burdening future generations to pay for your self interest."

    don't really understand the question..

    The SNP Government is insisting that our local school be built using PFI.... is that what you mean?

  • Comment number 47.

    @40, Eck was on QT last week...., no Ian Gray, no Tavish, no Anabel... unfair eh?

  • Comment number 48.

    47. At 19:49pm 18th Apr 2011, BloominEck wrote:

    @40, Eck was on QT last week...., no Ian Gray, no Tavish, no Anabel... unfair eh?

    There was a Tory, Labour, LibDem and SNP member what are you griping about.

  • Comment number 49.

    Apparently The Sun is coming out in favour of the SNP winning tomorrow. Wonder what the odds on that were ? I predicted that over a year ago :o)} . That should be a boost for the next poll.

  • Comment number 50.

    #47 Iain Gray .......they wont have him on QT ,are you mad ?

  • Comment number 51.

  • Comment number 52.

    Can anyone help me?
    A certain website - initial's NNS appears to have disappeared (at least from this side of the Globe).
    Is it only us and can you all access it? Has it been highjacked?

    Tried this query before but it just never appeared.
    Thanks from New Zealand

  • Comment number 53.

    Their understanding of English is only surpassed by their understanding of Arithmetic Would you want these people running your country?

  • Comment number 54.

    Brian,
    I heard your colleague Douglas Fraser this evening attempt to dismiss the proposed Council tax freeze on the basis that it benefited those in big hooses more than those in wee hooses. You might almost have got the idea that this was "a bad thing" and what he was really saying was "see they SNP, just Tories, so they are".

    More dirty work at the crossroads.

    And more elsewhere on another web news site I think.

    G'awn yersel', Alex!

  • Comment number 55.

    #52 Mike ...its been out of service all day. Seems to be a sever issue.

  • Comment number 56.

    52. At 20:30pm 18th Apr 2011, Mike wrote:

    Can anyone help me?

    Its been down for awhile.

  • Comment number 57.

    Another web news site looks as if it has been the subject of a Denial of Service attack.

  • Comment number 58.

    #32 djmac we demand to be told!

    a word of caution NO COMMENT !

  • Comment number 59.

    #36 rouser
    Aye maybe but don't be constrained by conventional thinking. Wee Eck may well establish SNP as the natural governing party in Scotland why because it is a Scottish party without direction from elsewhere. What will the others do, distance themselves from their London masters. Tavish is already trying to distance Scottish Liberals. Cameron is working steadily to distance the Scottish Conservatives. Labour copy every SNP policy except independence. So what next, driven by the highest principles of politics ie self interest the unionist parties will at some point move towards independence. Who will be first LibDems? Tories?. Labour will be last because the Westminster party needs them more, not at all true of the conservatives and Tavish is stuck in no mans land.

  • Comment number 60.

    55. Ubinworryinmasheep
    56. cheesed_off
    Thanks folks.
    Kiwi Mike

  • Comment number 61.

    Mr Taylor, I see your blog has made it into Subrosa's blog today.

    http://bit.ly/gFpfxS

    It appears some English councils have finally introduced a council tax freeze in their manifesto.

  • Comment number 62.

    61. At 21:43pm 18th Apr 2011, Stamp wrote:

    Mr Taylor, I see your blog has made it into Subrosa's blog today.

    http://bit.ly/gFpfxS

    It appears some English councils have finally introduced a council tax freeze in their manifesto.


    Where the Scots lead others follow as it makes sense, people before banksters

  • Comment number 63.

    Brian

    Lets see now, Cosla are complaining about the council tax freeze and say they have not agreed to it.

    The solution is surely very simple, the councils that do not agree with the council tax freeze can say no. They can then go to their voters and say "we need to put up your council tax by 3% as we would rather you the voters paid extra".

    The fact that there are a minimum of 11 councils who will freeze the council tax should give voters all over Scotland a comparison, which should concentrate the minds of these voters just in time for them going to the polls in May 2012.

    That should ensure more SNP councils in 2012, bring it on as someone once said.

  • Comment number 64.

    Wow, the bbc really have it in for this policy, I see Douglas Fraser has also a opened up a blog on this tonight at 21.20.

    Do you think it will stop people noting for The SNP? I don't.

    I hope you also both take a look at the costing of Labours knife crime since it's been dominating the bbc news today??

    I'm not sure Mr Kerr has his sums right.

  • Comment number 65.

    Just listening to the BBC and talking about that poll you know the one that has been all but ignored aparently it points to" Labour and er er the SNP" I thought it pointed to the SNP taking a lead AM I wrong?

  • Comment number 66.

  • Comment number 67.

    #59 portcharlotte

    your points are valid, but a bit advanced fot my way of thinking, but i like it.
    it is obvious it is to late at this juncture in the election for any unionst parties
    to show any leanings toward independance without a mandate fom their leader
    in westminster. it will be a different matter if SNP WIN ,with a comfertable majority

    in that case the scottish unionists might openly rebel for a mandate. and the way england is being run who could blame them!

  • Comment number 68.

    rouser and others just a tip if post being refused try signing out and back in again seems to help.

  • Comment number 69.

    #34 cheesed_off

    Appears than Johno is a wee bit TIFed!

    Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) will be used to fund a new cruise liner terminal, lock gates, esplanade and link road in Edinburgh's waterfront. It is estimated the project could eventually attract £660 million of business investment and 4,900 jobs.

    TIF, which has been used in the US, will see the council borrow the initial amount and pay it back through income from increased business rates generated by the development.

    It is being trialled in this country following work by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), a quango set up by SNP ministers aimed at cutting the cost of funding major infrastructure projects.

    The Treasury has been sceptical about permitting it, but Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, last week announced councils would be able to use the technique.

    Pretty progressive thinking.

    By the way Johno do you remember the SFT they are the body that recently saved the public purse £111 million in its first year of operation in Scotland.

    Meanwhile back at the NuLabour funny farm Elmer Fudd’s party are still committed to PFI. You know the scheme were you buy one and your kids and their kids pay it back over the next 35 - 40 years.

  • Comment number 70.

    As a simple council tax payer could someone please clarify some things for me.
    1. Who (in some councils ) made the decision to invest in Icelandic banks and who has been held to account ?
    2. Considering services such as the Police used to contribute at least 11 % of their wages how is this ongoing contribution maximised ?
    3. Are benefits such as 'reduced' entry to local council facilities etc for council employees on the table before social services or other cuts are imposed ?

  • Comment number 71.

    Anyone see the SSP broadcast?

    Nothing but Westminster issues. I had hopes of them, but they seem to be as UK orientated as Labour.

  • Comment number 72.

    # 68

    aye cheesed its just like the SAS. he who dares wins. or working for the resistance
    might be good training in going from "devolution" to "evolution"!

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    #64 Stamp

    ”I'm not sure Mr Kerr has his sums right.”


    Come on Stamp what do you expect, when Mr Kerr is using Crash Gordons old calculator

    No wonder the NuLabour Party in Scotland’s manifesto costings are soooo wayyyyyy ooooooot.

  • Comment number 75.

    Richard Bacon being interviewed on the televeision tonight has clarified how the figures on Labour knife policy were carefully worked out, no need to worry - £500 Million - must be right because this is the figure they read in a newspaper.

    This has to one of the most outrageous claims ever heard, although from past experience i am not really surprised.It will be interesting to see how much more flak they get over it though.

  • Comment number 76.

    #71 reincarnation

    “Anyone see the SSP broadcast?

    Nothing but Westminster issues. I had hopes of them, but they seem to be as UK orientated as Labour.”

    Aye but they will be a wee tad out on a limb when the divorce settlement does come through, as will most party’s

  • Comment number 77.

    oops seems I inadvertently broke a house rule, I think I may have called someone a liar.
    Let me rephrase tonights Newsnight was a classic, Isobel Fraser just keeps growing in my esteem.
    She well and truly filleted Richard Baker on the cost of Labours knife crime policy, to refresh your memory it is the bit where they claim that knife crime costs Scotland £500m a year, turns out the real figure is less than £10m. Mr Baker refuted the research carried out by the BBC and an independent researcher and claimed his figure came from the Violence Reduction unit, Ms Fraser pointed out that the Violence Reduction Unit claimed to know nothing about where this figure came from.

  • Comment number 78.

    69. At 23:40pm 18th Apr 2011, Roll_On_2011

    Cheers the gullibility of some to be fed misinformation believing it to be gospel beggars belief.

  • Comment number 79.

    Richard Park struggling on Newsnicht with the ridiculous 500 million cost to the NHS of knife crime claim.

    Unfortunate that he was allowed to get away with his vague justification of these costs being provided by the Violence Reduction Unit which "he had in front of him".

    Well I have a copy in front of me as well, and this is what it says in totality - no citing of the research or any calculations

    THE HEALTH SERVICE BEARS A SIGNIFICANT BURDEN FROM VIOLENCE. CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATES FROM ENGLAND AND WALES SUGGEST THAT 3 TO 6 PER CENT OF THE
    ANNUAL HEALTH SERVICE BUDGET IS USEDIN THE TREATMENT OF VIOLENCE. THIS
    EQUATES TO AN ANNUAL COST OF BETWEEN £258 MILLION TO £517 MILLION
    PER ANNUM IN SCOTLAND.

    Note ALL violence, and does anyone want to put credence on "research" that provides a range of 3% - 6%. What kind of rubbish research would that be?

  • Comment number 80.

    #75 He's good at figures when it comes to charging us for expensive hotel rooms !

  • Comment number 81.

    75. At 00:06am 19th Apr 2011, madpiratedad wrote:

    Richard Bacon being interviewed on the televeision tonight has clarified how the figures on Labour knife policy were carefully worked out, no need to worry - £500 Million - must be right because this is the figure they read in a newspaper.

    He needs grilled on this!

  • Comment number 82.

    darn, two post gone, hope they dont operate a three strikes and your out policy.
    I apologise unreservedly for my misdemeanour, in my haste I think I may have called someone a liar, which is of course inappropriate and quite rightly against house rules.

  • Comment number 83.

    Mr Baker was well fillited on Newsnight by Isobel Fraser. He struggled to provide any backing to his claim that knife crime cost Scotland £500m a year. The research carried out by the BBC showed that the figure was less than £10m, this based on information in the public domain. It did appear as if he had no idea of where the claimed figure came from other than from a newspaper.

  • Comment number 84.

    #79 Reincarnation ...surely you mean Richard Baker. John Park has something to do with campaigning I'm sure. This would also be the same John Park that had the facebook page 'Iain Gray for Scotland' which alas has been closed ....possibly due to nasty cybernats lampooning Gray on his own page.

  • Comment number 85.

    Other news sources are now available.

  • Comment number 86.

    #16 ambi

    “#11. At 13:03pm 18th Apr 2011, BloominEck wrote:
    'Which suits Tories, whether hewn from true-blue cloth or from a highland checked plaid design....'

    How Tory is a party that commits to a 2 year council tax freeze then?”

    Lets not also forget that NuLabour when they entered office in ‘97’ also carried on with ‘PFI’ and the 'Fuel Esculator’, both designed and implemented by the previous Tory Party.

    The question is ‘just how Tory is Nulabour. Well that was answered by non other than Thatcher herself - Don’t worry Tony won’t let us down!

  • Comment number 87.

    #81 cheesed_off

    “75. At 00:06am 19th Apr 2011, madpiratedad wrote:

    Richard Bacon being interviewed on the televeision tonight has clarified how the figures on Labour knife policy were carefully worked out, no need to worry - £500 Million - must be right because this is the figure they read in a newspaper.

    He needs grilled on this!”

    Richard Bacon needs to be grilled on this?

    ROFL when the penny dropped.

  • Comment number 88.

    84 Ubinworryinmasheep

    I'm supposed to know the difference between them?

  • Comment number 89.

  • Comment number 90.

    Oops

    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/politics/Police-Jail-for-all-knife.6754189.jp

    Poor Richard Baker/Bacon/Park/Van Dyke whatever

  • Comment number 91.

    89 Roll_On_2011

    I was logged in when it went down. That might have made a difference.

  • Comment number 92.

    Brian after over 40 years as a Labour front line activist. I resigned in 2003 - Iraq.

    From the following article it appears I have been vindicated.

    Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq.

    “Plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.”

    What a damning indictment against NuLabour. Yet Teflon Tony is still our ambassador for peace in the middle east - Why?

  • Comment number 93.

    #50 Ubinworryinmasheep

    As tempting as it is to continue lampooning the pathetic Iain Gray, and God KNOWS it is tempting, it will come to the point that Scots -- softies that they are -- will start feeling sorry for the poor soul.

  • Comment number 94.

    Labour got too greedy, and when someone finally called them on it, (the SNP) labour lost the election because people are sick to the back teeth of bankrolling people who are fleecing the system.
    25% of council tax goes on a bloated jobs-for-the boys-and-girls pension system which allows you amazing levels of early retirement.
    In some council areas of England 100% of firemen have taken early retirement on "health grounds".
    The level of abuse in the system makes the recent Parliamentry expenses system scandal look minor in comparison.
    This crazy system gives us things like 66% tax on fuel and (what was) rampant increases in council tax because the free cheese has to come from SOMEWHERE and wealth creation isn't trendy anymore.

    I live in a relatively posh area of Edinburgh and the number of people receiving big lumps of government cheese in various forms is unbelievable, hardly anyone is a self made wealth creation individual in the entire area.
    50 years ago the entire area was built and inhabited by self made people, the products of some of these individuals would still be remembered by a lot of oldies.

    The current crop of government cheese people are not creating a single penny of wealth for our country, it's a gigantic welfare system for the middle classes and the entire system is going to collapse if we continue to pander to these cheese eaters.

    If you want money, get out there and work for it in the marketplace, get your puckered mouth off the government entitlements teat and create some proper wealth for your society.

    "Competition" at the moment consists mainly of our most highly educated and capable middle class people competing for high-income zero wealth creation government jobs!!

    No wonder the country is going doon the swanney...

  • Comment number 95.

    Then there's the issue of "value for money" lol.

    Councils were once an asset for society, but have now become a huge liability as a lack of democratic oversight and an entitlements mentality have taken over the cultural thinking of councils.

    In the Republic of Ireland people pay zero council tax and this has no effect on the day to day lives of ordinary people.
    If you want to put your bin out you buy a ticket for around eight euros and slap it on your bin on bin day.

    Local councils are funded by central government, so government monster A is overseen by government monster B and local people don't have to deal with these people getting out of control.

  • Comment number 96.

    As far as the laughable excuse of "local democracy" is concerned Edinburgh is an excellent example of the powers of circumvention employed by that runaway train wreck known as local councils.

    Edinburgh is a big town of 400,000 people, not a city of 4 million, so when they tried to stick their hands into our pockets with a "congestion charge" they were forced to ask us in a civilised democratic manner and with a huge majority we told them where to go.
    With this spectre of real democracy hanging over them they decided to change the rules when another dripping roast known as the "tram project" came along and local people were cut right out of the decision making process.
    This resulted in a predictable disaster, folly number two, the likes of which we haven't seen since Edinburgh folly number one was built on Calton Hill.

    As far as local councilor oversight is concerned they are nothing more than a rubber stamping politburo for the local government monster, local councilors are completely hopeless as far as being representatives of the local population is concerned.

    Nope.
    Only Government Monster A, AKA Holyrood can control Government Monster B, AKA local councils, we don't have proper democratic oversight in the UK and until we get proper Direct Democracy only Holyrood can save us from the financial horrors of local councils.

    So for Councils it boils down to who ya vote for at Holyrood voting time.
    Labour is an integral part of this dripping roast, this culture of squeezing the taxpayer dry, only the SNP has a track record of planting it's foot firmly across the neck of local Councils.

  • Comment number 97.

    The Scottish Sun has endorsed Alex Salmond and the SNP. Today's edition urges Sun readers to vote SNP on May 5th. Is this the clearest sign yet that the tide is going out for Labour?

    5 More Years!

  • Comment number 98.

    The level of destruction of Edinburghs city centre by the council can be seen here.
    (Sometime in the eighties going by the buses)

    http://www.henniker.org.uk/images/places/local_a/ed-central/princes_a/princes_st67a.jpg

    You can't see the shops for the heaving mass of shoppers, most of whom were locals. Back then, Edinburgh belonged to its local people, instead of being treated as the councils private cash cow.

    Nowadays Edinburgh city centre has become a no-go zone for its locals, driven away as they turn us into a Medieval Disney World for tourists.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    Confirmed the BBC in Scotland supports Labour

 

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