The Scottish Parliament (SP) today rejected the Scottish Executive's (aka 'Scottish Government's') budget proposals. The vote was 64 on both sides and the Presiding Officer (aka 'Speaker') cast his vote to defeat it, citing precedent that casting votes should not change the status quo, which accepting the budget proposals would have done. Apparently the Green Party withdrew its support shortly before the vote and the the support of the Conservatives was not quite enough to swing it Alex's way.
It seems First Minister Salmond wants MSPs to forego the first week of their February holiday (why a February holiday, by the by?) so he can bring the budget before the SP again. I heard him speak on the radio at 8pm during the news bulletin implying that if he couldn't get his budget through it might necessitate 'going to the people'. No doubt a lot of hard political bargaining will be happening in the next few days amongst all the Parties. Which amongst the two principal Parties might lose/gain most from an early election? Whilst the SNP looks and is feeble, and its hold on power is precarious, the Labour lot are hardly more popular, with the toxicity of Brown's 'leadership' down in London unlikely to help their cause, even in their Scottish heartlands.
And we are only pretty near the beginning of this downturn/recession/depression, call it what you will. I haven't seen a great deal of discussion in blogs (those in the UK at any rate) so far about the unrest and violence which has occurred in recent weeks in a number of countries across Europe (Greece, Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria - can Estonia and Hungary be far behind?) with a general strike planned in France tomorrow. How quickly is it likely, if at all, that this unrest will spread to our little island? Who knows, but I suspect that before this thing is through we're going to see much more of this kind of thing and perhaps much worse - today's little difficulty in the SP might then come to seem merely a quaint reminder of what may then seem like better times.
OK, OK Cassandra will shut up ...