Dear Orkney News,
Tory list MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston’s highly partisan view of the Budget Debate shows “Party politics at its Worst”.
He knows full well that all Scottish & UK Governments have faced severe financial challenges over the past 10 years, mainly due to his party’s obsession with austerity, which has held back economic growth and caused real incomes to fall relative to 2007 and since. The annual Block Grant from Westminster, to the Scottish Government, some of our tax revenue coming back, has been decreasing annually, in recent years. The Scottish Government is not able to print more money out of fresh air and does not have access to a “Money Tree”. To make matters worse, Jamie’s Right Wing Separatist Tory Government has been reducing economic growth, even further, with its Hard Brexit obsession. “Brexit is already making us all poorer”, throughout the UK, according to the majority of political commentators, economists and experts.
Polls, last weekend indicated that 51% of voters no longer want Brexit, while 41 % still support it, regardless of evidence.
It is into this harsh climate,that the minority Scottish Government struggles to pass its Annual Budget. The SNP require the support of another Party, most likely the Greens or the Lib Dems. Both will have their own shopping lists. From 2007 to 2011 the Tories were able to extract a price for their budget support.
Nobody doubts the importance of Ferries in the Northern & Western Isles, Northern & Western Scotland. The introduction of a form of RET will require some subsidy to be diverted from Northlink and Calmac to Pentland Ferries, John o’Groats Ferries, and other companies in Inverness, Argyll and the Clyde
The Scottish Advisory Committee on Ferries, a body consisting of the leading shipping, ports and ferries experts, reports regularly to the Scottish Government. Detailed recommendations on the future of both internal and external ferries have been made. This information is available and in the public domain. One would Have expected that its recommendations to be central to the present ferries debate. How closely have the Lib Dems, Tories and Councils and other interested bodies been involved and engaged.
This debate will not just take place in the full glare of the media, where political point scoring may well get the headlines. It will take place behind the scenes, out of the limelight and take time.
The bottom line is that one or both of the two smaller Parties have to name the price of their main priorities. This is an opportunity for the Lib Dems or Greens, or both to be actively involved, locally and nationally, in the Scottish Budget debate, for the greater good.
John Mowat Orkney