Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

As regular readers will know, I rarely (if ever?) have a serious pop at named, individual politicians - I really do try my best to keep arguments 'general' and about policy ... but in this post, I may struggle!

Yesterday, in my favourite local newspaper, our esteemed Convener of Finance at the Council penned a short article on local government finance. Frankly, I've not read such inconsistent twaddle for a long time ... my 10-year old could string together a more coherent argument.

Said Convener's argument went something like this:
  • Edinburgh is a great place - no question about it
  • as Capital City it has particular status and importance
  • I won't trouble you with who ran this city for over two-decades
  • whoever it was, they clearly had absolutely no part whatsoever in making Edinburgh successful
  • by the way, the Council is about to set it's 2008/09 budget
  • lots of people and organisations are going to be disappointed
  • why, because we have a dire financial crisis which has Edinburgh on the verge of economic meltdown
  • I WILL tell you who's responsible for that and it's NOT me
  • it was the previous, evil administration who ran the city (but had nothing to do with its success) and I'm going to blame all the difficult decisions I have to take on them
  • I'm taking no responsibility whatsoever for those decisions
  • despite saying I want to look to the future, I'm actually going to keep constantly carping on about the past
  • but still, Edinburgh is a great place - no question about it
  • I'm taking Edinburgh forward not back
  • Aren't I ??

Appalling stuff, truly appalling.

I know you'll be tired of me banging on about Council finances, sorry, but lies about the past simply annoy me ... so for a quick summation, do have a look at this earlier entry and the links therein.

As I've said frequently before, a huge sum WAS taken out of reserves to settle the equal pay bill (and it was right to do so!) leaving the Council balances some £2.5million in the negative. That was replenished to the tune of nearly £3million in 2006/07 (the last year of the previous Administration) despite the huge budgetary pressures that were assailing the Council - much the same pressures that are assailing the Council now; a 70% increase in child-referrals leading to a £7.3million pressure being the most significant. And the Council tax rise that then Opposition parties suggested was only just above our own rise - it would have raised a negligibly greater amount.

I do feel compelled to repeat ... Labour controlled the Council for some 23-years; of course not everything was perfect, but I don't recall any of those years having a puerile, backward-looking, budgetary panic negatively affecting services for the vulnerable and the young.

It has taken the Libs and Nats less than 23-weeks to do just that - they are choosing NOT to protect services for the vulnerable and the young, it's a clear political choice which they will try desperately to take no responsibility for ... just read that appalling article again.

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