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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Taking Scotland Forward

Whatever stance you take on the First Minister, it has to be admitted that he does the 'vision thing' very well. His speech today setting out the Scottish Government's vision for the next five years was  full of vision, even if the detail was a little sparse.

The comparison with what the Con-dem coalition is doing in England was good. We need a different vision and we got it. However, he did try to give the impression that we are already exempt. "budgets slashed, priorities changed" is happening in every council, health board and quango in Scotland, not just 'elsewhere on these isles".
Constitutional issues "are a priority", but not such a priority that it will be addressed before "well into the second half" of this parliament. Points on the Scotland Bill will generally be supported - except Corporation Tax.

The social wage/social contract line is generally fine and worthy of further development. I particularly liked the attack on Thatcher's "no such thing as society" and the reference to 'the market" and "crazed ideology". However, not at all sure "people understand that public spending must be restrained". Elements perhaps of Thatcher's economics that the FM has praised in the past? There is a better way First Minister!

The juxtaposition between the wage freeze and the Council Tax freeze was not very clever as the STUC has pointed out. In may be politically popular but this is a regressive tax cut that does little for our low paid members.

The £250m Scottish Futures Fund is being stretched very thin over five different initiatives. All welcome but I hope this isn't more presentational spin. Core budgets being cut at the delivery end while ministers parade a series of new announcements. All administrations have been guilty of this in the past.

Good lines on sectarianism, bigotry and booze. These are certainly not compatible with the Scotland we all want. Investment in housing would be welcome, but this had one of the biggest cuts in the current budget. Jobs, emerging markets and the low carbon economy is a good vision, delivery will be more difficult in the current world economic environment.

Overall, good on vision, but something of the proverbial curates egg on the detail. 

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