Hi folks! One of the bonuses of the Budget getting passed is that this is the last week of posts about the Budget. This is the fourth consecutive week where it has featured, and with events reaching what could reasonably be described as a dramatic conclusion, it’s a good place to start.
Malc in the Burgh celebrates the Budget’s passage, and is, surprisingly, joined in celebration by Edinburgh Labour Councillor Ewan Aitken, though the latter’s celebration is based mainly on relief that there won’t be an election (Alex Salmond having threatened to resign and trigger an election if the Budget did not pass), and that the good Councillor feels minority government is a good way to conduct business in PR parliaments.
Though just as the posts about the Budget over the past month or so have revolved around how other parties would respond to it, so most of the week’s comments have centred on the voting behaviour of the different parties. Dundee LibDem Councillor Fraser Macpherson is troubled that the Tories, whose full name is â€œConservative and Unionistâ€ opted to back a pro-independence Government’s budget. On the other hand, Scottish Tory Boy refers to an article in this week’s Economist which paints the Tories as having regained political influence for the first time since 1997.
The Greens’ decision to abstain gets a mention as well: Green Anorak notes that the party did win some concessions, but that the overall package wasn’t green enough for them to support, so applauds the two Green MSPs’ decision to abstain. I’m less convinced that they did the right thing, but I spend more time discussing Labour’s decision to abstain.
Indeed, this is what bloggers seemed to pick up on: Holyrood Watcher hopes they can explain what they were hoping to achieve, Angus Nicolson brands Labour a laughing stock, Chris Stephens lists some of the things Labour couldn’t bring itself to support, and ASwaS notes the reaction of the press.
Meanwhile, one Labour MSP (Cathie Craigie, MSP for Cumbernauld & Kilsyth) did in fact vote against the Budget, who denied claims that she pressed the wrong button and broke ranks with her colleagues out of principle. While discussing the aftermath of the vote, The Herald’s Robbie Dinwoodie tells the story of how Craigie made this announcement, and what happened next. I won’t spoil the ending.
But the party in general just seems to be taking pelters at the moment: Richard Thomson reckons that Wendy Alexander’s leadership of Labour is doomed, and Holyrood Watcher considers the Leader of the Opposition’s latest soundbite.
And this wave of negative karma comes even when the Electoral Commission decide not to send their paperwork on Wendy to the Procurator Fiscal. Kezia Dugdale posts the Commission’s statement. Iain Rubie Dale reckons that Wendy is still tainted, however, and Malc in the Burgh damns the report as a whitewash. Scott at Love and Garbage wonders if someone else could report Wendy to the Fiscal, even if the Commission has opted not to. All the same, Wendy does have on admirer, in the shape of Mr. Eugenides, and even he notes that the decision has some troubling implicaions.
Oh, and speaking of politicians, scandal and the courts, what would the Roundup be if Tommy Sheridan were missing from it? Korakious posts a copy of a letter to the Morning Star, which proves that the war between the Tanned One and his former brothers and sisters in the SSP just keeps going and going and going, like an overcharged Duracell bunny.
But one thing that might stop is the tradition of Scottish banks printing their own money, thus putting under threat the customary blazing row with staff members in English shops over the validity and legality of a Clydesdale Bank tenner. The First Minister is taking a stand to defend the Scottish note, but Bernard Salmon argues that Alex Salmond’s position is undermined by the SNP’s support for the Euro.
Regardless of what happens to banknotes, this week saw one removal: that of the tollbooths on the Forth Road Bridge. Angry Steve is â€“ yup, you guessed it â€“ angry over this, arguing that despite no longer taking money, the booths were only built in 2006 and can still be of use.
And while the tollbooths are being evicted from their home, UK Housing Minister Caroline Flint has suggested that unemployed people ought to be threatened with eviction from theirs. Richard Havers and Caron are horrified.
Elsewhere, Danny Finkelstein is horrified at requests by Oxford’s Muslims to have their call to prayer broadcast on loudspeakers, suggesting that it flies in the face of Britain’s Christian tradition (tell that to the Druids!). Robert Sharp takes a different view, while Flying Rodent considers the Christian call to prayer and wonders if Britain is all that Christian now, anyway.
Staying with Islam and Christianity, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, suggested that some form of Sharia law might well find itself entering into civil practice in England and Wales. The reaction to the Archbishop’s comments has been hostile, and Almax takes issue with some of the points raised. But the MSM has picked up on Dr Williams’s speech and entered into a state of hysteria, exasperating Garry, who compares the media’s reporting of what Williams said with what he was actually getting at.
Speaking of comments and reactions, Cassilis notes that Oliver Kamm now takes comments on his blog, and isn’t sure that doing so is necessarily a good thing. I suppose it would be ironic to ask, â€œWhat do you think?â€
Staying with comments, the MSM normally have their detractors around these parts, but they have a new defender this week, in the form of Anseo, who takes a look at the ‘Comments’ section of the MSM websites, which are usually full of people arguing that Journalist X is biased towards Party Y. Duncan seconds Anseo’s post.
But regardless of whether or not our journalists are being programmed by political parties, could the next step be for governments to program their citizens? Cabalamat considers the scientific possibilities.
Though perhaps the first people who ought to be in the queue for reprogramming are the 22 Edinburgh Council employees who were suspended for sending an offensive e-mail around the office. Niall at Mushkush cringes.
Elsewhere in the world, the US Presidential Elections are gathering momentum, with Super Tuesday taking place. Kezia Dugdale went without sleep for the event â€“ I’d say something flippant but I’m pretty sure she’s seen me in a sleep-deprived state and would therefore have the means and motive to take a very brutal revenge â€“ and Andrew Burns views the night as a victory for Barack Obama. Jeff reckons that Mike Huckabee has all but secured the Republican Vice-Presidential nomination, and Ewan Watt wonders whether or not Joe Lieberman, Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, will address the Republican National Convention in the Summer.
Staying with Presidential Elections, and Serbia has completed its own poll, with the pro-EU incumbent Boris Tadic fending off a challenge from the hardline Radical candidate Tomislav Nikolic. Ewan Watt has the story.
One of the things Tadic has to deal with is an almost certain unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. SNP MEP Alyn Smith has visited the province and posts his reflections.
But back to the UK, briefly, and with the discussions of the SNP minority Government passing its first Budget out of the way, Tartan Hero wonders if minority government could be heading for Westminster after the next election. This is too much, even for a hardened political anorak like myself.
And on that note, I’m offski, but computer gods willing, I’ll be back next week, so don’t forget to send your nominations to the usual place, using either the shemaddabbydoowop on the right or by dropping us a cod at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bye-de-bye!