David McLetchie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "We warned when the spending announcement was made that council tax was set to soar once again. "We would use planned increases in the budget to make substantial reductions in council tax of up to 45 per cent."So can we look forward to tax cuts when the Conservatives take control of our town halls? Perhaps not. In today's Scotsman there is an interesting anecdote from ex-councillor George Kerevan:
WHEN I was a local-authority committee chairman, there was a little ritual that happened every year: the Tory opposition would denounce me for financial incompetence. My sin was systematically to underspend the departmental budget. This used to perplex me, as I thought the whole point of financial prudence was to deliver on goals as cheaply as possible, and that Tories - of all people - should know that. Silly me! Welcome to the wacky world of public finance, where sensible financial accountability is as rare as a Tory in Motherwell.So the Edinburgh Conservatives used to blame the Labour city council for spending too little! Some of us have a sneaking feeling that nothing much has changed. Listening to the Tories at their Bournemouth conference doesn't fill me with confidence that spending would be cut by a future Howard government. I think I'd rather have Mr Kerevan's "financial incompetence".