The SNP - a general election summary
This is the third in a series of weekly blog posts giving an overview of each of the main eight political parties' manifestos ahead of the General Election.
There’s no denying that the Scottish National Party has somewhat been catapulted into the public consciousness in the last few years. Between the decline of what might be termed the Westminster parties in Scotland, the independence referendum and the sheer force of personality that is Alex Salmond, the SNP have gone from being a fringe party to a genuine potential coalition partner for Labour, and have a distinct possibility of being the third largest party in parliament come May 8th.
One of the important objectives for these political reviews in the run up to the general election is to impartially talk about the policies rather than the personalities, so now that we’ve mentioned Mr. Salmond, let’s now ignore him.
In comparison to the other mainstream political parties, SNP have a reputation for being a left-leaning party – taking up much of the ideological ground that was occupied by the Labour Party before the advent of ‘New Labour’.
There’s no doubting that the SNP have an environmentally and socially conscious core to their policies. While much of their literature discusses issues through the lens of an independent or more devolved Scotland, if we look beyond that, then the party has a lot of policies that appeal to traditional social democrats.
On the environment
In addition to opposing fracking, the SNP would also seek to expand the Climate Change fund, introduce Green Skills Academies and oppose any expansion or extension of the use of nuclear technology, either for power generation or defence. Unsurprisingly, the SNP don’t make much of North Sea oil in this section of their website. They are however committed to increasing both the use of renewables and the recycling rate for household waste.
The SNP are already publically pushing for the electrification of Scotland’s rail network, and for HS2 to be built ‘in reverse’ – with the build work beginning north and heading south rather than vice versa.
The SNP have already abolished tuition fees, and more than any other policy I think this defines their approach to education – smaller class sizes, more funding for early years education and building more schools – the SNP seek to make state controlled education as good as possible.
On the economy
There has been a large amount of press given to the SNP’s rejection of austerity. This is borne out by their own commitments to freeze council tax, to introduce tax breaks for small business and to create a young jobs fund. When in comparison to mainstream tax policy the difference in focus is even clearer.
From my own personal perspective, the SNP are an interesting party. Committed to social justice, to supporting small business and to a fairer society (without capitals) there’s a lot to like about what they set out in their policies. Commitments to the green economy, to renewable energy and to expansion of public transport also ring well with me (though we shouldn’t forget how reliant the Scottish economy is on North Sea Oil).
All in all, I like a lot of what the SNP talk about. It’s almost a shame that I can’t vote for them.