.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

It's all about money

With just days to go to the polls things are getting interesting as each party comes under more intense scrutiny. First up is the cost of Plaid Cymru's manifesto promises. All the other parties are convinced that Plaid have got their sums wrong and that the only way that the nationalist's figures will add up is if they budget for zero growth on other Assembly budgets.

To be fair that is exactly what Labour did in 2004. Their budget for that year effectively froze half of the Assembly budget lines imposing real-term cuts on some key services such as housing. Nevertheless it is not a situation anybody wants to put themselves in if they can help it.

Some Plaid bloggers are under the impression that because the Welsh Liberal Democrats have joined with Labour in attacking Plaid spending plans that we are lining ourselves up for another Lib-Lab coalition. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that when faced with an open goal we shoot just like anybody else. We are concentrating on the election at present, what happens afterwards is out of our hands.

Plaid's response the manifesto costings row was to try and divert attention from it by attacking the Labour Assembly Government for hoading money instead of spending it on key services. They exposed a supposedly secret Welsh Assembly Government Cabinet paper, which suggests keeping hundreds of millions of pounds of public money in reserve and unspent. They went onto accuse Labour of seeking to emulate John Redwood, the former Tory Welsh Secretary who infamously sent £100m of Welsh Office funds back to the Treasury in 1995.

As it happens all of this is a storm in a teacup. The Government's spending plans are set out in the budget that went through last December and the extra money which was put into reserves in years two and three is there for all to see. Ironically, it was Plaid's abstention which enabled this budget to be passed, so if there is dodgy practise as they allege then their prints are all over the crime scene. My inclination is that this is not the case. What we have is just sensible budgeting and the incoming government, of whatever political colour, will be glad of the manoeuvring room it affords them.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?