While David Cameron was knocking Brown for six at PMQs, we in the London Assembly were debating the 2009/10 Mayoral budget.
I won’t go through all the details because my friend and colleague Roger Evans has done a better job than I would have and done it quicker. You can read his match report here.
A number of things struck me, firstly the failure of the Lib Dems or Labour to put forward an alternative budget. An alternative budget is the main tool used to hold the Mayor’s budget to account, showing the Mayor and others how you think things be done differently. It takes time and requires line by line scrutiny of the Mayor proposed budget, that’s the point.
The Greens did this and presented a budget which recommended an increase in the council tax precept, as Sir Humphrey would have said “very courageous”. Labour and the Lib Dems put forward a short list of uncosted add-ons to the Mayoral budget, 5 minutes work at the most.
Why is this important? Because scrutinising the Mayor’s budget is the single most important job that the Assembly does, if you are not willing to do that there is little point being there.
The second thing that I noticed was how deeply stuck in the past the, so called, progressive parties are. Their main criticism was that Boris wasn’t doing what Livingstone said he was going to do. Funny that.
To be honest, I was more than a little disappointed by the budget debate. Knowing that would lose the final budget vote on the 11th of Feb, most of the opposition parties just didn’t bother to put the work in. I’m sure they have got their sound bites and press releases ready but I thought politics was about more than just that.