I have frequently noted a tendency among British nationalists to rush to publication with the first #SNPBAD line that pops into their heads without so much as a moments reflection on the implications of what they are saying. We have a telling example of this ‘constrained thinking’ from Jackson Carlaw MSP, Deputy Leader of the British Conservatives in Scotland and shadow cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs – with special responsibility for slavering intemperate pish. The image on the left is a screenshot taken from his Facebook page. The text reads as follows,
#Eastwood residents facing FURTHER Council Tax grab following this week’s Council budget. The vast majority of this increase will NOT go to improve local services.
There are at least a couple of curious things about this mini-rant. It’s not clear, and Mr Carlaw makes no effort to explain, what is meant by a “FURTHER Council Tax grab”. The term “tax grab” is, of course, reserved for any taxation measure introduced by somebody else. It should be understood that, from Jackson Carlaw’s perspective at least, things such as the illuminatingly named ‘Bedroom Tax’ or up-front fees for Employment Tribunals DO NOT constitute a “tax grab”. These come under the heading of ‘difficult choices’ and are a testament to fiscal prudence rather than evidence of citizens being unjustifiably milked.
Given that Council Tax has been frozen for ten years, it’s difficult to see what the word “FURTHER” might refer to. The fact that the word has been given such emphasis suggests that it is meaningful. But what does it mean? East Renfrewshire Council has indeed taken advantage of the lifting of the Scottish Government’s freeze to increase Council Tax by three percent. But it’s the first increase in a decade. So we are left wondering, “FURTHER” to what? This remains a mystery. But one explanation that is too obvious to be ignored is that Mr Carlaw simply felt that this would add some drama to the piece. In the absence of any explanation, we are left to conclude that the word “FURTHER” is there purely for effect. Which rather puts it into the category of intemperate pish mentioned earlier.
You might wonder also how this gets to be an SNP “tax grab” with the Tories’ unionist allies, British Labour in Scotland (BLiS), being relegated to a parenthetical mention. There is no overall political control of East Renfrewshire Council and the administration is made up of a coalition comprising 8 Labour, 4 SNP and 1 Independent. But, whatever it is, it’s all the SNP’s fault. Anxious to avoid too seriously undermining fellow unionists, Jackson Carlaw reduces BLiS to a mere supporting role. It’s an SNP ‘one-party state’ even when they’re outnumbered almost three to one. What a world we live in!
But curiouser still is the assertion that “The vast majority of this increase will NOT go to improve local services.” A claim which raises vastly more questions than Mr Carlaw has thus far shown any inclination to answer. What constitutes a “vast majority”? What sums are involved? How was this calculated? And, most perplexing of all, where is this money being spent if not on local services?
Perhaps the Council’s own website might offer some enlightenment on this point.
Or perhaps not. Pretty much the first words we see are,
Council budget protects frontline services and outlines major investment programme
Reading on, we find the proud boast that the Council’s budget includes,
…an extra £1.6m for improving local roads and footpaths, £1.1m for exciting projects in our schools and plans to slash the cost of wraparound child care in council nurseries by 50 per cent, saving some parents more than £1,200 per year.
Further down the page we encounter a lengthy bullet-list of planned expenditure. All of which involves spending exclusively on improvements to local services. This seems to account for the “vast majority” of the Council’s budget. How does Jackson Carlaw reconcile this with his claim that money is being spent on something other than local services? What is it being spent on? How much is being spent? Why is this spending not accounted for in the budget?
Does Jackson Carlaw have any answers? Or are we to put the whole thing down to yet another outpouring on intemperate pish?
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