The participants in the Commission on Local Tax Reform said they had come to the agreement that “that local tax now needs substantial reform.” 

It goes on to say that “the opportunity for reform cannot be missed again.”

Twenty five years the need for reform has been recognised, attempted and failed according to the Commission. For almost 17 of those we have had a Scottish Parliament which could have acted. For nine of that we have had an SNP led government who said they would do something about it. And for almost all of that we’ve had a large degree of consensus on the need for change among the main parties.

Council tax makes up 12% of local government revenue. 76% of local government spending goes on education, social care and housing – possibly the three most important aspects of social policy.

But instead of “substantial reform” we get some tinkering around the edges. A government that has been in power for nine years, five of these those with a majority, and all they could come up with was this pretence to action?

“The opportunity for reform cannot be missed again”

We’ve never bought the argument that the SNP care about winning independence more than improving the fortunes of the country. It makes sense that the two should go hand in hand. But with steps like this, they do give credence to the Opposition that they can make claims to this effect.

The SNP are the most conservative party in Scotland. Too scared too suggest an idea which may find a fault line in their ‘broad church’ support. Too concerned about the ultimate aim of independence to take a chance. Too fragile to to risk being shunned by the electorate after so long on the outside looking in.

“The opportunity for reform cannot be missed again.”

Sadly it looks as though it will be.