Thursday, November 25, 2010

Coming Soon - To A Doorstep Near You...

This weekend, on a doorstep not far from your own, a bell rings. Outside, four figures in search of the householder's vote stand huddled against the cold…

Householder: Yes?

First Visitor: Hello, I’m Iain Gray. Leader of the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament.

Second Visitor: And I’m Annabel Goldie. Leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

Third Visitor: How do you do? Tavish Scott. Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Householder: I see. And who is that jumping around behind you, trying to grab my attention?

Fourth visitor: [Excitedly] My name’s Patrick Harvie! And I lead one of the major parties in the Scottish Parliament!

HH: Of course you do. Right, what can I do for you all?

All: [Chorus] We want to tell you about how awful John Swinney is, and what a terrible mess the SNP has made of Scotland’s tax varying powers.

HH: Oh? Why’s that?

IG: He let the Scottish Parliament’s Tax Powers slip!

HH: Goodness! All by himself? And how did he manage that?

AG: He didn’t pay a bill to HMRC which would have allowed the tax powers to be used.

HH: I don’t understand. How can a minister in a government with no powers over the Scotland Act change the terms of that Act simply by not paying a bill?

TS: Er, well, he can’t. But it means that the tax powers can’t be brought into effect as quickly as he said they could.

HH: Ok. But none of your parties even want to use the powers...

PH: [Interrupting excitedly] Mine does!

HH: ...2 MSPs want to use the powers while 127 others don't. So why should John Swinney be spending taxpayers money to maintain at peak readiness a system which wasn't going to be used anyway?

All: That’s not the point!

HH: So how big was this bill that he didn’t pay?

All: Erm, about seven million pounds.

HH: I'm confused – if spending around £7m on the National Conversation was such a waste of money, why would spending money on this be any better?

All: Because the people voted for it so that it could be used if necessary.

HH: Well, what about the fact that Mr Swinney was trying to negotiate a deal with HMRC to ensure the power could be used immediately from next May, but that the HMRC systems were inadequate for the purpose without that £7m being spent. How does that square with the charge that he deliberately let the power slide?

All: But he was in charge. And he didn't tell us what he was doing. So it’s all his fault!

HH: Maybe. But what have you to say about the first response from the UK government to Mr Swinney regarding his querying of this £7m demand coming in a press release from Michael Moore? Isn't there supposed to be a 'respect agenda' working here?

All: Everyone knows that it's always the SNP that starts fights with Westminster.

HH: Doesn't sound like it in this case...

IG, TS & AG: You sound like a raving Nat.

HH: Look, do you want my vote or not?

IG, TS & AG: [Mumbling] Sorry...

HH: Right, moving on. This power is about to be scrapped by the Westminster government anyway, and replaced with the Calman tax powers. What’s the point in maintaining it under those circumstances? And if Scotland is expected to pay for the costs of a tax power that no-one ever intended using, which government is going to end up footing the bill for the Calman tax mechanisms?

All: [shuffle feet and whistle]

HH: I see. So what difference did not paying this money really make to the overall timescale of when the powers could be used?

IG & TS: [examining shoes] Erm… now you come to mention it, not a lot.

HH: And why’s that?

IG & TS: Er, our parties mothballed the power back in 2000 when we were running the first Scottish Executive.

HH: I don't remember hearing about that at the time. Did nobody think to tell Parliament?

IG & TS: No, but that was different.

HH: Why, exactly?

IG & TS: Look! It just was, alright? You are a raving Nat...

HH: So let me get this straight. You want me to get irate about John Swinney not spending £7m on maintaining a facility to raise a tax that none of you ever intended to use...

PH: [Irate] Except me!

HH: OK, which none of you - except him - ever intended to use; which had been mothballed a decade previously; which was about to be replaced anyway; for him not telling Parliament what was going on even though Parliament wasn't told a decade ago that the mechanism had been mothballed; and for not confirming to Parliament something that the last Lib Dem and Labour finance ministers should have known anyway at the time they left office?

All: Yes!!!

HH: Goodbye. [Slams door, whilst shaking head]


James Mackenzie said...

Later, at another doorstep..

HH2: Who's this knocking?
AS: Tis I, Great Puddin' O' the Chieftain Race!
HH2: Fair enough. I suppose you've come about my vote?
AS: That's right. Now, more than ever with those wicked Tories in Westminster, Scotland must be free!
HH2: Well, I agree they're dreadful. But you've been in charge here, and just handed on their cuts.
AS: Our hands were tied! We don't have Fiscal Autonomy!
HH2: The Irish folk-singer?
AS: No! Full tax powers!
HH2: But why did you let the powers you had lapse?
AS: We're very sorry about that but we did nothing wrong.
HH2: Eh?
AS: It's London's fault. Or Tavish Scott's. But anyway it doesn't matter because we didn't want to use them.
HH2: So much for opposing the Tory cuts then. *closes door*

Richard Thomson said...

Touché :-)

Anonymous said...

Richard: Brilliant. You should do a comedy series for radio 4.

Anonymous said...

James: Could you two not write together....?

Dubbieside said...

Even Later on another doorstep

Dr Who Hello Im from the Green party and we want you to pay more tax.

HH3 Why would anyone with a full set of marbles want to pay more tax?

Dr Who Well since the tartan tax is there its a crying shame not to use it.

HH3 Thats not a very good reason for increasing my tax.

Dr Who Well its the only one we could think of.

HH3 Since you are a main party why do you not introduce it as an amendment to the Scottish budget.

Dr Who Do you think turkeys vote for Christmas?

Anonymous said...

LOL OK Dubds, you should write too...

Jeez, I wish I was clever like youz guys!

Richard Thomson said...

Not sure if that says more about how poor BBC Radio comedy is these days, Tris, but I'm sure we're all grateful for the thought, anyway!

voterinscotland said...

Very good and amusing- your first commenter should not give up his day job as a spin doctor as it was not that funny at all.

GrassyKnollington said...

Green Candidate: Hello, I'm here to put your taxes up.

HH4: You can't.

GC: We could if the SNP had kept up the payments for the database.

HH4:Are you going to pay the £7 million then?

GC: What are you a fascist?

HH4: No, are you going to pay the £7 million?

GC: Hey you've got envelopes in your blue bin!

Householder 4 looks round at bin and turns back to see bobble hat disappearing down the street.