September 26th, 2011
Budget time at the Scottish Parliament has provided plenty of drama for political anoraks over recent years.
Now the Scottish Government has a majority, we are unlikely to see any of the last minute bluffing and bargaining that has marked recent budget negotiations.
But it also means that Finance Secretary has sole responsibility for the spending decisions he has made this time round.
Like every spending review, there were winners and losers and just as we have seen in recent years, further education, housing and public services face the deepest cuts.
With youth unemployment at its highest point since John Major was Prime Minister, I feel particularly aggrieved at the cuts in the college sector.
If we are going to give people a chance to develop the skills needed for the first - or their next - job, we need to invest in further education.
But colleges like the James Watt are ready struggling with the demand and these latest round of cuts can only make it harder for people, particularly young people, to get ahead in life.
With serious talk about mergers and closures, the James Watt College which has established itself at the heart of our community faces a real fight for its future.
For those already in a job, there was little comfort, particularly if you work in the public sector.
Pay freezes, even for those on bottom end of the scale, will have to be endured for at least another year as Inverclyde Council was handed swingeing cuts.
It seems this SNP Government’s way of protecting us from the Tory cuts is to pass them straight on to our councils, destroying many public services and punishing low-paid workers.
There is no doubt that John Swinney faces difficult decisions but in straightened times, his spending decisions become even more important.
Throughout this budget process, I will be on the side of the young people looking to develop the skills to get their first job, the low-paid struggling to get by in tough times and the Inverclyde community that
needs and deserves its fair share from the Scottish Government.