Thursday, 23 January 2014

A quick point of order...

... about the bedroom tax.

You might be hearing in the news about Labour (in Scotland) criticising the Scottish government for not doing enough to assuage the effects of Westminster's bedroom tax - or spare room subsidy as they prefer to call it.


... is Jackie Baillie, she's a Labour MSP and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well Being and Cities Strategy. Currently she's trying to massage a bill through the Scottish parliament that would increase the budget set aside to help folk who are being hit by the bedroom tax.

In the current budget, John Swinney set aside £20 million - the maximum he could under rules set out by Westminster for the Scottish Parliament (a pretty galling idea by itself.) The rules are there for a good reason - well, it's a good reason from Westminster's point of view - Welfare, of which housing benefit is a part, is not devolved and Westminster cannot stand to have its toes stood on in areas where the football still belongs to them.

So here comes Jackie who wants the amount increased to £50 million, she has to know this exceeds the maximum Holyrood can throw at the problem, I would say she's not daft but sometimes... The truth is, Jackie Baillie has form, she's not averse to presenting figures that paint the SNP-led government in a piss poor light when those figures covered a time span when Labour were in office in Holyrood - but that's how Jackie, erm, rolls.

This is a cynical ploy, nothing more. You might not be watching the news, I appreciate not everyone is a political anorak, but it is this kind of poison - absorbed unconsciously by unsuspecting voters and once in there it seems to stick - 'ah heard Jackie Baillie say Labour wanted to increase the bedroom tax fund but thon SNP types blocked it...'

So for the avoidance of doubt here are the key points:

1: The Scottish Government has already allocated the maximum it can to help.

2: In reality - and Jackie knows this too - if the Scottish Government decided to press on regardless and ignore the rules, it would be subsidising Tory policy in Scotland: can you imagine the hysterics Labour (and the Scottish media) would go into over that?

No, I can't either.

The Scottish Government is between a rock and a hard place, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't on this, fortunately, the Scotland Act gives them an 'out' and caps funding. It goes without saying, that won't stop the usual suspects giving Baillie air time to spray forth her bilious arse gravy* on the telly.

In the meantime, the Scottish Block Grant - the pittance Westminster sends back up out of the fortune Scotland sends down - (in advance of what will happen to Barnett after a no vote,) has already effectively been reduced by £20 million a year. A man who represents a seat in another country, who's party's policies Scotland does not support so did not elect, a party that has only 1 out of 59 possible Westminster seats in Scotland yet governs Scotland...

... and Jackie Baillie wants to help him out with further subsidies for odious Tory policies.

I think its fair to say, that that - is taking the piss.

Keep in mind, Labour brought forward a motion in Westminster to scrap the bedroom tax two months ago, it was defeated by just 26 votes. Hiding behind an obscure pairing rule, 47 Labour MP's didn't turn up to vote.

Listed below are those with Scottish constituencies

Douglas Alexander (Paisley & Renfrewshire South)
Gordon Brown (Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath) (Yes that one...)
Brian Donohoe (Central Ayrshire)
Frank Doran (Aberdeen North)
David Hamilton (Midlothian)
Ann McKechin (Glasgow North)
Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire) (Currently bumping his gums on the topic of the cybernat of which I am one)
Pamela Nash (Airdrie and Shotts)
Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central)

The truth is, we could go on about Scottish Labour's hypocrisy and double standards until the vote in September and still not cover every instance of when they've said one thing then done the exact opposite.

So I'll just pause here until next time.

* Apologies for the mental imagery, its shock treatment. You will see the oily Jackie on the telly and my most fervent hope is, instead of her honking on about the bedroom tax/Scottish Government shortcomings, you will see a fountain of uncongealed shit erupting from her gaping maw.**

** Sorry.


  1. Labour voting for stage one of the budget is a con. They are changing strategy from the Bain method and I would never trust them, especially Baillie, a nasty piece of work if there ever was one.

    I also think we should not go further than 20 million, I understand the hardship this might cause and it breaks my heart, but its a trap and Labour know it. We are being led down a well laid path and the snp need to wake up.


  2. Well, it's good to see that Labour is finally working with the government on this to try to find a way.

    The fact that Iain Gray has been meeting John Swinney shows that Gray agrees with the government that there is no obvious way of doing this. Baillie seems to think there is. Gray seems to prefer Swinney's viewpoint.

    The important thing is that most of the people on the rough end of this legislation are sick, or old.

    So my message to Gray and Swinney is...get it sorted, no matter if it leaves egg on the faces of the government people who said that it couldn't be done...

    This is more important that political points.

    It's worth reflecting though that if we were independent we wouldn't need to find ways around our social security legislation. We could simply change it.

  3. Like Bruce, I'm going to have to be cynical about this, its traditional for those in opposition to 'call for a meeting', its a double con. It means Labour can take some credit for what the SNP eventually do yet stand back and say it wasn't enough.

    As they say on the X Factor, its no from me. (At least I think its the x factor...)


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?