If Labour decides to go to war over this it will have to enlist allies and between them they will have to say where else they would make this level of savings in order to restore it. Of course the SNP will point out that they wanted to scrap the Edinburgh trams which have turned into a fiasco, but opponents forced that on them.

Beyond that it is a cheese-paring budget, spreading the misery around -- a demand for administrators to find widespread cuts which will chime with the public mood. The freeze on council tax and business rates will also be hard for opponents to argue with.

But proclaiming a council tax freeze is not the same as achieving it, and calls for meeting “significant challenges in a spirit of partnership” are grand words that may founder on opposition from council leaders.

Around £500m in cuts flows from Treasury restraints -- £392m in enforced efficiency savings and £129m in knock-ons from NHS cuts South of the Border. In addition the Scottish Government brought forward £350m of next year’s capital spending programme to combat the effects of the recession. Now it’s payback time and the recession is not over yet.

All of this produced a black hole around the size of a major hospital project and something had to give. In Mr Swinney’s estimation GARL had to go . It will become a battleground over the winter months.