Nationalist rule may collapse in Scotland
The Scottish National Party is barely clinging to power today after it was unable to pass a £33 billion budget in the Scottish Parliament. The party was swept into power only recently as it won a narrow plurality in an election where there was unprecedented dissatisfaction with the Labour Party. Analysts are saying that if the party is unable to pass a budget new elections may have to be called. The SNP's long-term objective is independence for Scotland.
Last night, First Minister Alex Salmond put his party on an “election footing” and said his minority Scottish Government would be forced to resign from office if it cannot win support for its spending plans at a second attempt.
Yesterday’s vote was tied 64-64, despite frantic 11th-hour horse-trading with the Greens to win their support after Labour and the Liberal Democrats said they could not back the budget.
Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson used his casting vote to maintain the status quo – which means the government was forced to revert to its 2008-09 budget, which is £1.8billion less. The defeat is unprecedented in the 10-year history of parliament and the biggest crisis for the SNP since it came to power.