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The truths they don't want you to read....

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Price of Power

One of the greatest challenges of being in a position of power is having the responsibility for everything and anything that might go wrong in your area of control. Whether or not you are to blame.

The usual response is to blame your predecessor or external forces, but that can only last so long. Despite this blindingly obvious truism, the Labour Party are still trying to suggest that they are undoing the effects of the Thatcherism, and for that reason Policy X still hasn't been delivered. (For the benefit of younger readers, Margaret Thatcher was a Conservative Prime Minister. She was eventually replaced as leader of the Party by another right-wing ideologue, Tony Blair.)

And so the story goes on in Aberdeen, where the new SNP/LibDem Council Leadership is faced with a funding crisis, which they have attempted to address with some crude cuts of voluntary services and schools. And they appear surprised by the resultant outcry.

According to the Council, the problem is years of underfunding by Government. According to the Government, it is due to the actions of other political parties(!)

It is interesting that a semi-supportive Council are implicitly criticising the most recent financial settlement, whilst this is implicitly acknowledged by John Swinney.

Update 10/4/08 (this post was originally written on 6/4): An article in the Daily Telegraph by Alan Cochrane reminds his readers that he had forecast that John Swinney would have to pick a fight with Councils sooner or later, as the budget settlement was never going to stretch far enough to be acceptable.

I cannot argue with that view, as I have long forecast that this budget round was going to be tight. What it highlights is that profligate spending in the early years of the Parliament will restrict the options in later years, when the more painful decisions will have to be taken.

And that is the lesson of being in power - quick wins are all well and good, but when the compromise long-term options then they should be avoided.

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