CommonSpace cuts through all the jargon and hype to bring you the top pledges from this year’s SNP manifesto
THE SNP launched their manifesto for this year’s General Election hoping to present the party as progressive against the Tories while also opposing Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.
In a speech in Perth today (Tuesday 30 May) the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined her party’s position in contrast to the ideology of the UK Tory party and its Scottish party, which she claimed was “representing the hardest of Brexit, damaging Scotland and its economy.”
The speech barely touched on the issue of independence with Sturgeon simply reiterating that for any Tory UK Government to oppose another independence referendum “at the end of the Brexit process” would be democratically “unsustainable”.
We bring you all you need to know about the SNP’s manifesto and how it will affect Scotland’s economy, society and relationship with the UK.
1). Triple lock guarantee
The SNP have pledged to fight for the reinstatement of the triple lock pensions guarantee which the Tories decided to renege on in their manifesto earlier this month.
The triple lock was introduced in 2006. It sets the level of growth for pension payments based on the highest of three measures: the growth in national average earnings, inflation as measured by the consumer price index, or 2.5 per cent.
Both Labour and the SNP are trying to position themselves as left of centre and the stable option for older voters and those yet to retire. The SNP has also committed to backing the women against pensions injustice (WASPI) after the General Election in their battle with the UK Government over fair, full and timely pension pay.
The SNP will also have an eye on a future referendum where the issue of pensions will again rear its head.
2). There is power in a union
Like Corbyn and the UK Labour party, the SNP is fully backing the repeal of the trade union Act of 2016 which further curtailed the rights of workers to bargain and strike against large businesses, bosses and unfair pay and dangerous conditions.
On top of this the SNP states it will increase the minimum wage and ‘real’ living wage, in reference to the low living wage introduced by UK Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond, and negotiate “in good faith” with public sector unions in Scotland over pay.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) welcomed the statement from the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that “next year and future years we will not assume a 1 per cent pay cap” for public sector workers alongside a commitment to work with trade unions.
There was a promise to increase the minimum wage to over £10 per hour by the end of the parliament amid applause for Sturgeon’s pledge to remove the freeze on benefits, abolish the two-child cap and the Rape Clause.
3). The NHS Alliance
Nicola Sturgeon has attempted to walk a fine circus rope when talking about Jeremy Corbyn in the election. She has simultaneously described the UK Labour leader as weak on issues such as Brexit, while agreeing to a progressive alliance on pensions and pay. The health service was another area that the two seem to be rallying on ahead of the General Election poll on June 8.
Despite health being devolved, the SNP will advocate for more powers to increase the health budget in Scotland while advocating moves to increase health spending per head in England to match Scotland.
This plan for raising NHS spending across the UK by 2021 to 2022 would increase the NHS Scotland budget by up to an extra £1bn.
The policy will make it harder for opponents of the SNP who state that Scotland gets too much tax funded health and education spending through the Barnett formula, to the detrement of England. Jeremy Corbyn will also find the move a test of his accusations that the SNP are an austerity party in Scotland “while talking anti austerity to the UK.”
4). Banking on the future
SNP MPs if re-elected to the House of Commons will back a tax on bankers bonuses if a vote is brought before the UK Parliament. The party will also support the creation of a “robust regulatory frame work” to help stop future excesses that led to the banking crisis of 2008.
Sturgeon also put forward a demand of an investigation into the LIBOR scandal which rocked the City of London and want a law to protect whistleblowers in the financial sector who come forward with evidence of misconduct.
Under new rules supported by the party, senior bank managers will have to prove they did the right thing where gross misconduct has occurred under their watch.
5). Protecting the piggy bank
The manifesto outlines proposals to protect Scotland’s budget from any future attempt to reduce the amount of money the Scottish Government receives from Westminster. Describing the policy as a chance to “defend Scotland against the cash grab” the party will advocate for the Barnett formula to gain further protections so it can not be reduced by UK Tory Governments in the future.
This is tied up in the upcoming Brexit negotiations where Scotland is still not guaranteed a seat along with the UK Governent. A Barnett securement will be received with other new powers such as remit over immigration law and trade regulation.
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