You win some, you lose some

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So that's the Budget done for this year. A pretty poor debate, apart of course from Patrick, John Swinney, and Derek Brownlee, who had the second best line of the night with the jibe against Labour - "not even fit for opposition". 

I'm clearly biased, but Patrick took it for me with: 
"Watching the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats trying to work together over recent weeks and months has reminded me of a documentary that I once saw that speculated on the mating habits of dinosaurs--academically quite interesting, but ultimately now futile."

Leaving the substance for another time, how did the politics of it break down by party?

Well, they got their first ever budget through, they get to keep being Ministers, and they made some significant concessions but nothing that stuck in their craw. Bruce Crawford and John Swinney had smiles that practically met at the back of their heads.

The Greens
Patrick's solid negotiations mean some major improvements, some real Green wins I think our activists will appreciate. We got the SNP to reverse planned cuts in bus services, with £4m more going in. And £4.3m more for the Climate Challenge Fund, which will let communities bid for money for good green projects like locally-owned renewables or low-carbon transport schemes. And carbon costing for future budgets (this is the most radical, but will no doubt get lost in the mix for the media). And a bunch of other good stuff too. 

Oh, and we managed to look constructive by.. actually being constructive. A good few months' work.

The Tories
They got more police and business rate cuts for (genuinely) small businesses. And they get to rewrite drug policy with Fergus Ewing, which is a bit worrying. Above all, their colleagues in London get to keep Labour in a total pincer, with Gordon Brown's writ not even running in his back yard. Admittedly they had to vote for, which has allowed the Liberals and others to work up some confected anger, but they're also well pleased.

Some of the hacks are saying that today's fiasco is worse for Wendy than the Electoral Commission's interminable investigation. Students of parliamentary process around the world will look back on Labour's handling of this process as the prime example of how not to oppose. Grandstanding, voting against at stage 1, proposing an amendment today which left the substance unchanged (and therefore went through easily) then abstaining on what they'd effectively made their own proposal. Imagine John Swinney and Iain Gray about to duel with each other, only Iain Gray cuts his own head off just getting his sword out. Total failure.

The Liberals
Like Labour, an utter shambles. They spent half the debate slagging the Greens off for our opposition to roads projects that they themselves pushed through as Ministers. Then they voted the same way as us, having achieved absolutely nothing. In Australia the Greens just finished off "the Aussie Democrats" at the last election, taking their last seat. It'll take us a while, but if tonight's anything to go by, we'll one day achieve the same thing here. I honestly understand why people might vote for every other party except them. This is a theme I think I'll come back to, perhaps.

Anyway, not a bad place to start blogging. Thanks for reading.

The pic is a thumbnail of David Cheskin's outstanding Iain Gray pic for PA, taken today following the vote. David: if you see this before I get hold of you, can I keep that pic up please?

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This page was published on February 6, 2008 8:58 PM.

Oh, the "you lose some" bit.. is the next entry in this blog.