Today saw an important milestone successfully passed for the SNP. We have managed to get our first budget in government through the Stage Three process, meaning that it has been fully steered through and sanctioned by the Scottish Parliament.
More power to John Swinney's elbow for managing this triumph, but the events of today have proven more than a little bit bizarre.
The final vote for the budget saw 64 in favour with a paltry 1 against. 60 other members abstained. The Liberal Democrats abstained on every vote tabled today in the process. There were six amendments presented to the budget early afternoon, and one amendment to the motion that saw the budget successfully through, all of which the Liberal Democrats saw fit to abstain on, as well as the final vote on the budget motion itself. This strikes me as a fairly stunning example of political cowardice, but at least it was consistent.
What really gets me though is that the Labour Party presented the amendment to the motion, which sought to secure a commitment from the government to invest more in training and apprenticeships as resources allowed. The SNP supported this amendment. Indeed, it attracted support from all across the chamber (minus the abstaining Lib Dems of course) and was resoundingly passed by 110 votes to just one against (14 abstained). Nothing in that that should have "got to me" I hear you say.
What got to me though was that after securing this massive success, the Labour Party, when push came to shove, joined their former coalition colleagues in a fit of political cowardice and abstained on the final vote. Why, if they could only find fault with 1% of the value of the allocated budget did they do this? Why, when they secured cross-party consensus for investment in training did they do this?
I wish I had the answer to that one, because I genuinely fail to see the logic or the political worth of taking such a position. It will be interesting reading in tomorrow's papers.