Parliament: June 2009 Archives

Holyrood settled today for a compromise position on much of the Climate Change Bill, with a few notable exceptions. 

The idea of carbon-costing future budgets is now written into law, the odd "may" is now a "must", and that interim target is higher, at least for now. 

Rob Gibson quoted Patrick's comment that the SNP would need to be dragged kicking and screaming to 40% scathingly, as if that wasn't basically what happened (in fact, I could almost see him kicking his desk at the time).

The trouble is that when Labour made their move on this at FMQs last week, they needed to have loads of caveats in their text to keep Des (I'm guessing) happy. 

When the Nats decided to try and outbid them, they gleefully adopted his language, caveats and all. Notably, they can abandon the target if they get a letter from the big boys in London allowing them to do so.

Stewart Stevenson made some pledges on that, as follows (I paraphrase): 

"I promise not to ruin the Bill if we get a tough deal at Copenhagen, I promise only to ruin the Bill if I get the letter I've already got, and I promise only to ruin the Bill once."

The bottom line here remains the same, and the problem is much wider than the SNP. It's the policy weaknesses shared across the Chamber. Labour, the Tories and the Liberals are all signed up to climate-busting transport schemes across the country, to new coal plants with as yet undeveloped technical fixes (although you can never make opencast clean), to airport expansion, and to doing next to nothing on insulation.

Whatever the target, without actual policy change in these areas all we'll be doing in future years is berating Ministers for missing their targets. Those activists who pushed Parliament as far as the other 127 would go had better not pack up: without their continued efforts, on actual policy issues, we won't have achieved as much today as they hope.
clementattlee.jpgSimon Jenkins rails against the dearth of progressive choice in modern politics. 

Of Labour: "The withering of the party apparatus and of its base in the unions and local government left nothing to which future reformers might grasp."

Of the Lib Dems: "They were beguiled by the magnetism of the vacuous centre."

The result? "Those on the left who are against the current wars, the drug laws, an authoritarian Home Office and a centralised state have no voice. Nor do those who want to see bankers taxed and local council housing surge."

His prescription: "At present [democratic equilibrium] needs a Labour party. Someone should found one."

I disagree, obviously. You can have all those things and sustainable economics too, with Greens. But you'll never again see a Labour Party able to deliver them (which I agree is a sad state of affairs).

I'm reminded of this curious paean to Clem Attlee in the Daily Mail. That's what you can't have back, right there.
salmondJCB.jpgSo it'll be at least 42%, the interim target. Following the Maximum Eck's embarrassing performance at FMQs last week, having been lobbied by everyone from Cardinal Keith O'Brien to Ian Marchant, and having stared into the face of a Labour Party prepared to move in the right direction and rub their face in it, the Nats finally blinked.

You can tell how full of caveats it's going to be, though. The Liberals already had a 42% down, but that wasn't good enough for the SNP, so they've put down a last minute manuscript amendment with the same figure. I'm sure there's a section in invisible ink about exempting North Sea Oil or the FM's own limo, so the Chamber Desk better be on the ball.

At some point Stewart Stevenson will have to be told the good news, too. Whether or not he gets the science, sooner or later he'll have to pick and choose from those motorway projects he and the First Minister love so much. Without scrapping some of them, plus the new coal power stations the Nats are unnaturally fond of, even 42% could actually be a tough target. 

To end on a more constructive note, here's a starter for any Ministers wanting to find another 8% carbon emissions reductions at short notice. The insulation scheme we proposed in last year's Budget would have (by their own figures) led to a 5.85% reduction all by itself, as well as substantial economic and financial benefits. Just sayin'.

Dog bites man.

| | Comments (0)
tugakiltthanksjeff.jpgMany of the papers today had a PA story about the Nats calling for more powers to be devolved. Here's one example: SNP tell Jim Murphy: We want more powers for Holyrood now.

Why on earth is this newsworthy? It's all they ever do. Alex Salmond wakes up calling for more powers, even as he then refuses to use the ones we have already, and he goes to bed cursing Westminster for not devolving the power to eat all the fish today. His dreams no doubt regularly feature him winning a big tug-of-war with Jim Murphy over the border.

If anyone who can find a senior Nat saying they're happy with the devolved settlement, then that's a story. Until then, how about a bit more coverage of, I dunno, maybe the biggest crisis facing humanity, something which Holyrood will actually vote on this week
stevensonthumbs.jpgThe Scotsman successfully used FOI to extract a Government paper on Ministerial preferences (as per the shame heaped on Liam Byrne down south).

Much of it is no surprise. For instance, Salmond wants "facts and figures which demonstrate why the government's position is right", which I'm sure civil servants manage to provide even when the government's position is palpably absurd.

Other parts seem entirely sensible, and simply not newsworthy. John Swinney likes civil servants attending a meeting with externals to turn up 15 minutes early in case he wishes to discuss the matter in advance. It's called a pre-meeting, and it's standard practice.

More amusing, though, is the note that Stewart Stevenson prefers minutes "to be short, to the point and not repetitive". One thing's for sure: he's never had to sit in the audience for one of his own speeches.
thatcherforwar.jpgThis morning Parliament is discussing whether Westminster should have a general election. Come Decision Time tonight, how Holyrood votes will be crucial. 

If the Tories, the Lib Dems and the Nats line up and vote for change at 5pm, Gordon Brown will finally relinquish control. Expect to see pics of him clambering into the hybrid Daimler and heading down to see the Queen and ask for a dissolution.

No, not really, but it is still a telling debate. The Tories are drooling at the prospect of power, and just love railing against Iain Gray as a Gordon proxy. For them, Scotland needs a new government purely because they want to see Dave's clammy hands on the steering wheel. They know the voters loathe Labour, and are determined to misread this as some kind of enthusiasm for Tory government.

Bruce Crawford and Mike Russell were in their element too, demonstrating the extraordinary extent to which attacking Labour is the SNP's core business. It's a mix of petty student debating points, the worst sort of hustings behaviour, and the pure loathing they feel towards Labour but not, curiously, towards the Tories. I think they've forgotten the 1980s (above).

Labour for their part share the loathing, and they spewed Tartan Tory-bashing rhetoric at the Nats. In particular, they refought the fall of Callaghan, when the Nats ushered in Thatcherism (although then as now the real problem for them was their own failures). They can add to that the pure fear they feel about this general election, with predictions of the Strange Death Of Labour Britain continuing to spread. 

Grim stuff today, therefore. Everyone's time was wasted, it's as if there really wasn't anything more important to discuss, and the mood in the canteen will be like three stag parties meeting on Lothian Road, one in Celtic tops, one in Rangers tops, and one from Chelsea. Thankfully the testosterone levels will be higher than the alcohol levels, otherwise there'd be trouble.

Housekeeping notes: I've finally found out how to turn off authentication for comments, so discussion should flow a little more easily. If I get all that Chinese spam that 538 seems to suffer from I may change my mind. Also, the Tuesday before the Euro poll was this blog's busiest day ever, so thanks for stopping by.

Your Links At Last


Other Politics



Friends and Stuff I Like

If I've forgotten to link to you, let me know. If I don't want to link to your blog I'll pretend I never got your email.

The party's site of which I am rather proud

Along with Jeff (formerly SNP Tactical Voting) and Malc (formerly In The Burgh), I now co-edit Better Nation, a group blog. Stuff will still appear here, but more will be there. Better Nation

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Parliament category from June 2009.

Parliament: May 2009 is the previous archive.

Parliament: July 2009 is the next archive.