The British General Election VIII: SNP

1. Home Affairs

A. Taxes and Economy: Oppose oil and gas drilling, and invest in offshore wind farming. Support an international bank tax and limits to industry bonuses.

It is smart to strike a tone which has been seen to work for the Greens. It is a smart move to try and piggy back onto those voters who do not mind that their vote would not be for a party with any chance of forming a majority. Yet there position is somewhat problematic; oil has recently found its second wind (with significant reserves being found under Gatwick). Popularity of the status quo will mean that significant resistance from business will be found. The SNP should have learnt their lesson; it was highly influential in the Scottish referendum that the businesses came out against them.

B. The NHS: Reduce the number of senior managers in the NHS by 25% over the next parliament. Streamline the work of health boards.

The Tories claimed to have done it, UKIP claim they need to do it more; middle management (as noted) needs to go. Efficiency is desirable. But one should question whether with change, removing management is the best step. It is through the middle management that directions and themes from the top filter through to the bottom. Especially for the Tories (who want to change the direction of the NHS) this might be problematic. It is more persuasive to hear it from the SNP.

C. Jobs: Introduce gender quotas on public boards. Living wage “a central priority” in all Scottish government contracts. Continue the ‘small business bonus’

Gender quotas on public boards is a forward thinking movement; considering the initiatives being taken by various countries in order to address inequalities in corporate boards.

D. Education: Guaranteed free 30 hours of childcare a week for three and four-year-olds in Scotland, up from 16 hours. Maintain lack of tuition fees at Scottish universities, and offer financial support in grants and loans to students. Continue to build and refurbish schools. Lower voting age to 16 in all UK elections.

It is not surprising that the SNP, in line with Labour, are seeking to lower the voting age. They are both projected to do better with younger ages. Indeed, the results of the Scottish referendum support this for the SNP. It is surprising, given the real possibility of the SNP influencing the outcome of the elections, to focus so much on Scottish rights.

E. Law and Order: Support the European Arrest Warrant. Co-operate with other countries on organised crime and terrorism.

A refreshing acceptance of a doctrine which is working.

2. Foreign Affairs

A. Immigration: Allow the devolved government to have control over immigration to Scotland, and introduce a Canadian-style earned citizenship system to attract highly-skilled immigrants.

Allowing the government to have control over devomax does not seem outside the realms of possibility. It should be recalled however, that there are constitutional limits to the powers which may be devolved. And the ideal of giving control to the government seems prima facie incompatible with EU law. Which is a reserved area of competency. If they mean introduction of points style immigration (as well as citizenship) they may well have a better chance.

B. EU: Oppose nuclear weapons and push for removal of Trident submarines from Scotland.. Maintain 0.7% commitment to foreign aid. Enhanced role for Scotland within the UK in Europe, particularly in fisheries policy.

Given current concern regarding treatment of seals by salmon farmers, more influence at the fisheries level might well show that Scotland is taking these concerns seriously. Trident always is a risk area to discuss: especially because concerns of national security influence any such discussion. Recently, it seems to have been determined that the cost would be less than previously predicted (estimates are more accurate around the £2.5-3.5 billion, compared to the £20-25 billion),

The SNP have erupted powerfully onto the national scene, after what was an incredibly able campaign for independence. However, they have not learnt the lessons of their failure. Firstly, they should have courted support from Scottish businesses. Secondly, popular as they are with the youth they should have either ensured that their proposed benefits touch everyone – rather than just Scottish youths.

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