Thursday, 4 February 2010

Hung Parliaments

Just as it is beginning to dawn on Westminster commentators, what many of us have been pointing out for ages, that a no-overall-control situation at Westminster is more likely than not, comes this message from a LibDem activist in Scotland. He describes the budget settlement in the NOC Scottish Parliament.

"It was budget day. Or more accurately, the day of the vote on the SNP government's budget. It is, of course, a hung parliament. The Nats needed the support of at least 2 other parties to get their budget through. So, last week, they sat down and negotiated - with us, with the Greens, with the Tories and even with Labour. There was no panic, no disaster, no chaos. No parties merged with any other. All the opposition parties stated what things they would like added (we wanted more money for college places and action on public sector pay, the Tories wanted an independent budget review and more transparency on spending, the Greens wanted a home
insulation scheme, Labour wanted the Glasgow airport rail link restored).

"Result? The government conceded the Tory and Green demands, and just enough of ours to allow us to abstain. Budget passed.

"The point is, despite the nay-sayers' claims that hung parliaments are disastrous, civilisation didn't end today. On the contrary, it was all remarkably civilised. It was real grown-up politics, and the final result is a much better reflection of what the public actually want than what would have happened if one party had been allowed to ram its own programme through."

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