Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lib Dums (Part MCXVIII)

I simply had to laugh at the antics today in Holyrood of everyone’s favourite opposition/government (delete according to circumstances) party, the Liberal Democrats. For quite simply, in today's debate on government spending, they proved for all time the wisdom in the old adage that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Deciding on this occasion that they were government rather than opposition, they decided to accuse the SNP of having uncosted spending commitments. This they did in the time-honoured fashion of saying that ‘if you’re going to spend this amount on doing that, where’s the money to do it going to come from?’.

Tee-hee-hee - how clever. Sadly for the Lib Dem speakers, though, the SNP’s Alex Neil was on the case, and managed to intervene to ask what spending the Lib Dems planned to cut in order to fund their proposed cuts in income tax. Three times Alex intervened on three different speakers, and each time answer came there none. The sound of rapidly escaping air was deafening…

Jeremy Purvis also took to his feet, and used his time to claim that SNP figures in a document called ‘Scotland in Surplus’, were wrong because they didn’t take into account the party’s proposed cut in corporation tax. Sadly for Jeremy, the SNP figures to which he refers represent an analysis of the revenues and expenditure which take place in Scotland in the current year, and not a dynamic budget showing what the SNP would do in government.

This is something the document explains very clearly – that lack of attention to detail won’t do your ministerial chances any good, Jeremy!

However, to spare Mr. Purvis’ blushes, the ‘chump of the day' title must be split between Argyll MSP George Lyon and his equally irascible colleague for North East Fife, Iain Smith, both of whom claimed that the SNP had hacked out £750m of defence spending between the party’s July ‘Scotland in Surplus’ paper and its December update.

Whoops-a-daisy! That correction for the government’s overestimated defence spending in Scotland was in the July document as well. For future reference, boys, it’s in the bit about ‘Expenditure’ under the heading ‘Defence’. There’s also a dirty big Appendix on page 12, ‘Appendix 1’ as it happens, which explains the figure more fully.

Still, it’s not my fault if you can’t be bothered to do your homework properly. Now, if only I could find some way to get the theme tune for ‘The Muppets’ out of my head…

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