Thursday, 12 August 2010

Redwood and Wilson - two takes on the cuts.

What do John Redwood and Brian Wilson have in common? Not much you might think, but both are so refreshingly frank when it comes to discussing the Tory-LibDem cuts agenda.

Redwood, in his very readable blog, points out today that while Labour accused that the Thatcher government he served in of cutting services, spending in real terms actually increased over her period in office.

Former Scotland Office and Energy Minister Brian Wilson makes a very similar point about Scottish spending in his West Highland Free Press column.

Persistently anti-devolutionist is probably the kindest way of describing Wilson's attitude to the Scottish parliament. But, along with his old mate Alan Cochrane he is one of the most incisive, if only occasional, critics of the institution and its policies

He laid out a devastating case for cutting expenditure of the Scottish parliament in last week's West Highland Free Press (06/08/10 - it only arrived by post yesterday)

In his regular 'Brian Wilson Writes' column, he pointed out: "Since devolution, money has poured into Holyrood's coffers in eye-watering quantities. In real terms the Scottish Government now has double the money to spend that was available in 1997-98.

"The problem is that this bonanza has not been used to create lasting structural change in the Scottish economy or society, it has been largely squandered on unsustainable vanity projects."

Among these projects Wilson lists are free university tuition, free personal health care, free prescription charges and so on which have benefited the Scottish middle classes far more than the poor who did not pay for them anyway.

"Progressive politics", argues Wilson, "stem from ideas and not the squandering of money on the basis of half-baked populism. I do not think there should be very much difficulty in chopping 10 or 12 per cent out of Holyrood's budget over a period of three or four years."

Of course, the free middle class this this and the free middle class that schemes will not be the first to go, predicts Wilson. "The problem is that their priority will probably be to defend the unsustainable schemes because these are the ones that get them the media applause and spare them from middle class wrath. Meanwhile behind the facade, the essential services on which a large part of the population actually depend on or which add quality to the life of communities as a whole, for relatively modest cost, will be eroded to pay for the follies."

Although famously partisan, Brian has no bias here -he includes past Labour administrations in his criticism too. His comments are hardly the basis for a manifesto, but then he's not standing for election.

The Free Press is only available behind a paywall installed at most newsagents - so buy the paper to read the whole article.

No reason for Wilson to be stuck in the print age though. If Redwood can blog, and Cochrane can be online, then surely Mangersta can manage it? Get a move on Brian.

1 comment:


    The article in full for those poor souls like myself who have no access to the WHFP