Renfrewshire Council Budget Day; the protagonists and spectators assemble for the meeting at 9.30 a.m. the first surprise takes place before the meeting starts; the SNP offer a 10 minute recess to allow both sides to examine each other’s budget proposals. This cheers us up on the Labour side, we have always allowed this courtesy when in power but the SNP refused to offer it last time, they are clearly nervous, the reason becomes obvious when we see their proposals.
Bombshell number two then takes place as SNP leader Mackay decides to publicly humiliate his finance spokesman Cllr. Noon by delivering the budget speech himself, can you imagine Chancellor Gordon Brown sitting in the House of Commons on budget day and watching Tony Blair deliver Brown’s speech? This is not just a humiliation for the hapless Cllr. Noon but, it is a glaring example of poor leadership by Mackay, to treat one of your conveners in this way at one of the years biggest public meetings is quite intolerable.
He has shown this complete lack of confidence in his colleagues before, most notably if understandably in the case of Cllr. Cameron the Education Convener who must rank as the worst appointment since Berti Vogts, she has been sidelined often because he has no confidence in her, its poor leadership to treat a colleague in this way but, more importantly; it’s unpardonable folly to appoint her in the first place.
The SNP proposals are cuts and more cuts; amounting to closures and job losses, speaker after speaker from Labour and Tory savaged them, the Tories of course have a bark which is much worse than their bite and they; true to form; voted with the SNP, it’s absorbing watching them as the genial and eloquent Cllr. Langlands disdainfully attacks them and makes them squirm while all the time everyone in the chamber knows that he will side with them on the vote, likewise his young apprentice Cllr. Clews, it was ever thus, genial and good natured they may be but, in the final analysis they are still Tories; and they know a right wing budget when they see one.
I said in my contribution that they (the SNP) set out by saying that they would improve Social Work, how? by cutting it’s budget by £1m that’s how, they would improve education, how? by cutting its budget by £2.5m. that’s a cut of “6.5m. in two years, that’s how. I reminded Cllr. Mackay to his embarrassment that he seems to have turned around a “bankrupt council” a council which was “in the red” a year and three quarters ago into one which was now “financially stable” ( Cllr. Mackay) I suggested he replace “Fred the Shred Goodwin” - if looks could kill.
Mike Holmes (Labour) then produced a fierce forensic attack aimed at the 'loosely wrapped' Cllr. McCartin who had made a speech in praise of the budget, he baited her mercilessly and she was shaking her head one minute and nodding the next and sometimes a mixture of both as Mike ran rings round her. This had the chamber roaring with laughter which as usual didn’t bother her, she has been over this kind of humiliation many times and once again she was the only one in the chamber who was not aware she was being made a fool of, she is impervious to everything but blows.
Cuts are on their way in Arts & Museums, Primary & Secondary teaching jobs, School Admin Support jobs, Social Work and more, this is the reality of electing an inexperienced and incompetent administration, the people of Renfrewshire are paying the price for them and it will get worse. This dire administration continues to cling to the comfort in the chamber of pathetic false laughter and transparently orchestrated cheering and desk banging but I think the people of Renfrewshire will be seeing through them.
Did I mention that the last vestige of competence and trust in the SNP went west at Holyrood the day before the meeting; with the abandonment of their ‘Loco Income Tax’ their “flag ship policy” do any voters feel betrayed? I suggested; again to pitiless laughter from some of the rougher elements present that the shambles of the Scottish Govt. is a result of their cruel treatment of Renfrewshire SNP’s finest; big Brucie McFee the SNP at Holyrood were beastly to him and him such a nice man as well, everyone calls it Holyrood while big Brucie refers to it as “The Bermuda Triangle” what can he mean? Some rather unpleasant types reckon that it’s because he went missing there without trace for 4 years; still he’s back now and that’s what matters right?
In the old council chamber Cllr. Mackay sometimes sat with Cllrs. McFee, Mitchell, & Nicolson behind him, not something we will see again I fear.
“ Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown “ (Henry IV. W Shakespeare) still Derek what did he know? He wasn’t even Scottish.