It's Liberal Day in Parliament tomorrow, and they're bringing two motions, one designed to be used to needle at Gordon Brown on HBOS, and the other designed to promote their eye-wateringly distinctive tax cut plans.
First, HBOS. The motion is as follows. Apologies for the length, but there we go.
S3M-2779 Tavish Scott: The Importance of HBOS to the Scottish Economy and Jobs--That the Parliament gives a general welcome to the measures taken by the UK and other governments to tackle the current banking crisis; considers, however, that the recapitalisation plans announced by HM Treasury in October 2008 have fundamentally changed the landscape under which competition rules were waived to enable a merger between Lloyds TSB and Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS); further considers that inconsistent statements have come from the UK Treasury about whether or not the banks would independently have access to the recapitalisation funds; believes that this ambiguity is not serving anyone's interests in the present environment; further believes that losing HBOS corporate headquarters and jobs in Edinburgh would seriously jeopardise the city's position as a financial centre; sees no reason why HBOS should not be able to access UK Treasury recapitalisation and, therefore, liquidity funding on the same independent basis as other major banks, and, with this in mind, considers it a very real possibility that an independent HBOS solution could be found that may well be in the best interests of shareholders, employees, customers and the Scottish economy at large.
The Tories have an amendment down which puts shareholders first and backs the merger, but this post is going to be long enough already without putting that up.
Patrick has an amendment, too, and I think it's rather more germane. Do we really want just to try and recreate the bubble? Haven't we learnt our lesson on that yet? Do we really want to invest in banks just so they can support the same old business-as-usual economic decisions?
S3M-2779.2 Patrick Harvie: The Importance of HBOS to the Scottish Economy and Jobs--As an amendment to motion (S3M-2779) in the name of Tavish Scott, leave out from "gives" to end and insert "recognises the need for short-term action by the United Kingdom and other governments to tackle the current banking crisis; rejects, however, any effort simply to refloat the failed model of deregulated financial services, which has been supported by Labour and Conservative UK governments and by Labour/Liberal Democrat and SNP administrations in Scotland; calls on the UK and Scottish governments to commit to a future for the financial services sector, that is based on sustainability and self reliance rather than the impossible objective of limitless economic growth fuelled by reckless lending and excessive leverage, and, in the short term, demands that an element of democratic control be exercised over the lending and investment activity of banks that have been bailed out by taxpayers' money to ensure that economic, social and environmental sustainability are prioritised through that activity."
The other motion and amendment is also worth a peruse. The Liberals seem to think that economically hard times are the right point to cut taxes and cut public services; they committed to tax cuts just as the policy became ultra-barking, and now they're stuck with it. Here's their text.
S3M-2780 Jeremy Purvis: A Helping Hand with the Rising Cost of Living--That the Parliament notes with grave concern the rise in the cost of living and the impact of the credit crunch on families, individuals and small businesses in Scotland; believes that the Scottish Government should use the substantial levers at its disposal to give practical help; disagrees with the policy stated in the Draft Budget 2009-10 that "the Scottish Government will not use the existing tax varying powers in 2009-10", and believes that all parties should work to secure a 2p reduction in the basic rate of Scottish income tax, which would deliver more than £300 per year into the pay packet of the average Scottish earner and a significant fiscal stimulus to the economy.
The SNP amendment here is magic, though. It elegantly turns the force of their motion against them.
S3M-2780.1 John Swinney: A Helping Hand with the Rising Cost of Living--As an amendment to motion (S3M-2780) in the name of Jeremy Purvis, leave out from first "believes" to end and insert "agrees that the Scottish Government should use all of the levers at its disposal to give practical help; calls on the Liberal Democrats to set out in detail the £800 million of cuts to public services that they would make to fund their proposal on income tax and believes that until these cuts are identified and are open to scrutiny that the Liberal Democrats and their proposal have no credibility, and further believes that, as part of the forthcoming budget process, the Liberal Democrats should bring forward detailed proposals of where they believe cuts should be made."
This will surely pass. If and when it does, I think all the other parties should issue leaflets with this image on them. It's what they'd do.