But is it a case of 'We winnae dae that'?
The newspaper which delights in publishing Labour press releases, reports the council funding deal, mentioned in John Swinney's draft budget on Wednesday, between the Scottish Government and local councils is 'fracturing'. No bets on which council is leading the negativity. Aye, it's Scotland biggest spender Glasgow City Council. They said they now faced an impossible choice between agreeing to a deal they believe to be unrealistic or, by knocking it back, having to raise council tax by as much as 20% next year. Then, not content at threatening their council tax payers, they also have to threaten their employees by stating a third option would be to sack 2,000 frontline staff, including social workers, teachers and binmen.
Why do local authorities always mention these three skill areas? What about over-staff personnel departments - yes I know I'm old fashioned and ought to call them HR - planning offices, chief executive departments? Oh, silly me, they're not in the public eye so therefore not frontline.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have also announced they will axe 2,400 jobs over the next two years and are preparing to close schools, libraries, sack community wardens and reduce day care for the elderly.
Between these three councils they've managed to cover the areas which will create the most upset within communities. Scaring the people is bullying.
What this article 'forgot' to mention is that John Swinney and other Cabinet Secretaries liaise directly with COSLA, (the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities), and its president Cllr Pat Watters plus other political representatives. On Wednesday Cllr Watters was quoted as saying the budget was 'the best deal we could negotiate for Scottish local government'. Cllr Watters signed an agreement and it's up to him to ensure all councils abide by it. The 'fracturing' is between COSLA and the local authorities, not the Scottish government, therefore it's up to Cllr Watters to apply the stookie.
The Herald welcomes the commission on the future of public services today by stating 'A wholesale review is long overdue'. An excellent move by the First Minister.
A good news story I haven't read in the Scottish press - although it may have been tucked away in the sports section - is the First Minister's refusal to fund the upkeep of the Scottish Variable Rate which allows MSPs to increase or lower income tax by 3p in the pound. The power has lapsed and will not be available for at least another two years. It sounded a good idea, when we voted for devolution, but I doubt if many people thought it would ever be used. The government confirmed the previous £12 million agreement with HMRC to invoke the tax powers expired in July 2007 and claimed it would have cost £7 million more to be extended. The Unionists are up in arms about this so it must be a sensible decision.
A government spokesman added:
Nothing less will do.