What would it take for the Scottish Lib Dems to back the new budget that the Gnats will be putting before the Scottish Parliament, following the rejection of the original yesterday?
Caron has already given one answer and that's certainly something worthy of consideration. But I would like to throw something else into the discussion, which I think would be equally beneficial.
It looks like we're not going to get the 2p income tax cut we proposed, but that doesn't mean we should abandon all ideas of doing something to help the economy. Looking at our manifesto from the 2007 elections, I see lots of good ideas in there which would help Scottish businesses through these difficult times.
For instance, we proposed doubling the support available to small businesses and setting up a fund to help small community retailers. Progress towards that would certainly be an option to win Lib Dem support. Combine that with a return to 2007 levels of funding for Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise and I suspect the Gnats might well be close to a deal.
There are other options as well: progress on our long-term target to treble research and development or the WiFi Towns and Cities Fund mentioned in the manifesto would certainly be possibilities. And ending the proposed cuts to bus and train transport in Scotland, which I highlighted in a previous post, should certainly be on the table.
But all this requires the Gnats to stop their posturing and arrogance and really make an effort to reach consensus on a budget which does something for the Scottish economy. The budget they proposed was so inadequate to the task that rejecting it was the best choice for Scotland. Perhaps now they will be ready to recognise their minority status in the Scottish Parliament and work with others on a budget that meets Scotland's needs.
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