Nicola Sturgeon unveiled her party’s manifesto for the election of Holyrood on Thursday.
The Prime Minister hailed it as a ‘transformational’ document and tried to market himself as the experienced and hardworking leader needed to lead Scotland’s recovery from the coronavirus.
However, opposition parties reported a litany of promises made by the SNP over the years, some dating as far back as 2007, that had not been kept.
Here’s what the SNP manifesto – which, according to opinion polls, will be the one implemented after May 6 – says on key issues.
The SNP manifesto states that a referendum on independence must be held once the “immediate Covid crisis” has passed. However, how the “crisis” is defined – and how to judge when it is over – is not explicitly explained.
The party’s intention is for a referendum to be held in the first half of the next parliament, ie by the end of 2023. Although the process of negotiating the conditions for independence would likely take years , the SNP says its preferred calendar “would equip our parliament. with the full powers he needs to drive long-term recovery from Covid and build a better and fairer nation ”.
It is said that a majority of pro-independence MPs – meaning the Scottish Greens or Alex Salmond’s Alba party votes would count – would be enough to secure a mandate for another vote. This means that Nicola Sturgeon will continue with his separation plans even if the SNP alone does not secure an absolute majority.
The manifesto states that any referendum must be “legitimate and constitutional”, and a Scottish SNP government would open talks with the British government on the transfer of powers to allow it to take place.
However, it also raises the prospect of the SNP passing its own Holyrood referendum bill, which the UK government could challenge in court, if Boris Johnson sticks to his guns and continues to refuse to hold a new one. referendum.
The SNP says that if the constitutional battle over a new referendum ends up in court, it will fight the case “vigorously”. However, he does not say what he would do if – as many constitutional scholars predict – the Scottish government loses the case.
Although it outlined a series of costly policies, the SNP said it plans to maintain income tax rates for the duration of parliament, with any bracket increases not exceeding inflation.
However, he also states that “it is important for any government to have the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances”, potentially leaving the door ajar for the pledge to be dropped. The SNP broke its promise in its 2016 manifesto not to raise taxpayer taxes to the base rate.
He also promises to freeze the rates and brackets of the land and property transaction tax – the Scottish equivalent of stamp duty – for the duration of parliament. However, corporate rates will increase for large corporations.
There is a vague commitment to reform the housing tax “to make it fairer”.
The SNP promised a system of “integrated childcare”, which means that children would be taken care of before and after school, and to extend free early childhood education to a few children from one year to the next. and two years.
Each student would be entitled to a free digital device and there would be an extension of free school meals. A subsidy for school clothing for low-income families would be increased to at least £ 120 per primary pupil and £ 150 for secondary pupils.
The findings of an OECD review of the program – the preliminary results of which declined to release the SNP – will be “implemented,” the manifesto says.
An investment of £ 1 billion to close the achievement gap between rich and poor is pledged, while 3,500 more teachers and classroom assistants are said to be hired. There is a brief commitment to empowering teachers, but little to suggest that there are plans for a major overhaul of the school system.
A Scottish version of the Erasmus student exchange program, which is no longer available due to Brexit, will be developed.
The SNP said it would increase health spending by at least 20% over five years and set up a new national care service. This will not mean that all nursing homes will be nationalized but the new organization will “oversee the delivery of care, improve standards, ensure improved pay and conditions for workers and provide better support for unpaid caregivers,” the report said. manifest.
In a major pledge, the SNP said it would abolish all NHS charges on dentists in the next legislature. Since the poorest are already receiving free treatment, the policy will primarily help the better-off.
A quarter of a billion pounds is pledged over five years to tackle the drug crisis in Scotland.
A new land reform law will be introduced, which would see community groups given the first refusal to buy large areas of land that are sold.
Ultra-fast broadband will be extended across northern Scotland, the manifesto promises, although the work will not be completed for five years. It is hoped that full 5G services will be available for eight Scottish islands.
In an attempt to stem depopulation, 100 bonds of a maximum of £ 50,000 each will be offered to young people or families to enable them to stay or settle in the islands. Boards will be given new powers to discourage second homes.
There will be a new impetus for low carbon agriculture and a willingness to encourage more the cultivation of planetary proteins rather than animals.
Legislation will be adopted to “guarantee equal inheritance rights for women in agriculture”. Law changes are also promised to close “loopholes” in fox hunting rules and the SNP “remains committed” to a licensing regime for grouse shooting.
Transport / Environment
Over five years, the SNP plans to spend 1.6 billion pounds to decarbonize the heating of homes and other buildings. New, stricter rules would be developed for builders. The projects of a public energy company will be relaunched.
By 2026, at least 10% of transport infrastructure budgets will be spent on walking and cycling, the manifesto says. Free bikes will be offered to children from low-income families.
Free bus transport will be extended to those under 22, while a target will be set to reduce car use by 20% by the end of the decade.
The manifesto describes oil and gas as “an important part” of the energy mix but adds “we need to make the transition to new, cleaner fuels”.
Scotrail will become public property from next year and Scottish Railways will be decarbonised by 2035, as part of the SNP plan.