Manifesto for Scotland
Last week I tantalised you with a
brief look at the other party's manifesto's one thing that was clear was
the lack of ideas and dreams for Scotland. It all just confirmed to me
that none of the London based party's have the vision or the ideas for
Scotland and her people. Compare that to the vision that Alex Salmond
the First Minister in Scotland delivered on Monday. Here are a few
snippets, it runs into 21 pages so I wont print it all.
would mean 60,000 new green jobs by 2020
Our aim is to
increase low carbon employment in Scotland by 60,000 by 2020 as part of
our low carbon strategy, with renewable energy supporting 26,000 jobs,
emerging low carbon technologies a further 26,000 and environmental
management 8,000 more.
Scotland has a
huge wealth of clean, green energy that puts us right at the heart of
Europe’s energy generation and gives us the potential to become the
continent’s energy capital.
A fair deal
for pensioners with pensions rising in line with earnings and a
guarantee to protect free personal care and concessionary travel
We are in favour
of linking the Basic State Pension with earnings. At present pensions
are increased every April in line with the level of price inflation.
Restoring the link to earnings would ensure that pensioners can get at
least a modest increase in their pension. It would mean a £110 million
boost for Scottish pensioners.
We believe that
a fair deal for older Scots can only be achieved with the restoration of
the link between pensions and earnings, cut by Margaret Thatcher in
1980. This will be a priority for the SNP in the next session of the UK
A new phase
of capital acceleration so we can create almost 5,000 new jobs this year
Government's acceleration of £350 million of capital spending into vital
areas such as affordable housing and other infrastructure projects has
helped us fight recession, boost spending, and assist the construction
sector during tough times.
acceleration of capital spending by the UK government would support
almost 5,000 Scottish jobs and provide much needed economic stimulus in
the short term. This should be a central part of any post-election
Budget or spending review and will help us strengthen and support
Scotland’s economic recovery.
The UK is the
only G7 country not to have a stimulus this year and the Treasury have
confirmed that their plans to reduce public spending will cut economic
growth by 1%.
We will press
for the scrapping of Trident nuclear missiles and a halt to their
Both Labour and
the Tories are committed to making swingeing cuts to Scotland's budget
while frittering away billions of pounds on the Trident nuclear weapons
system - an obscene vanity project the people of Scotland do not want.
It is massively
hypocritical to pretend you're leading a multilateral effort to disarm
while ordering up more weapons of mass destruction. Anyway you look at
it - on moral, financial or defence grounds – renewal of Trident is
There is massive
opposition to dumping a new generation of nuclear weapons in Scotland
but only SNP MPs will champion Scotland's frontline services above these
abhorrent weapons of mass destruction at Westminster.
Trident and cancelling its replacement would save over £35 billion over
the next 10 years.
Demand a fair
fuel regulator to protect motorists from soaring fuel prices
would see increased revenues from higher oil prices and petrol prices
recycled to lower fuel duty. This would keep a limit
on soaring fuel prices while protecting
anticipated revenues for the Treasury.
many hard pressed families are struggling to cope as fuel prices
continue to soar – in some rural areas they are now in excess of £1.30
per litre. The recent 3p increase will be sorely felt by both hauliers
and motorists. The SNP’s campaign against these rises will continue.
Work to make
sure Scotland is part of the first phase of the UK high speed rail
rail line to from Scotland to London would greatly reduce the travel
time and pollution caused by constant air travel. The Labour Government
promised to build a high-speed rail line from London to Scotland but, to
date the only plans are to take it to Birmingham.
To invest in the
rail link would also be to invest in a sustainable environmental future
by reducing the number of damaging short haul flights. The proposal to
stop the line at Birmingham would make no dent in short haul air travel
and drives coach and horses through the UK Government’s own emissions
We will argue
to scrap the £5 billion ID card project, the £100 billion replacement
for Trident, the £100 million House of Lords and the near £10 million
Scotland Office so we can instead protect the vital public services we
all rely on and make the investment we need for economic recovery.
These costs are
a waste of public money. They need to be cut because they don't matter
to anyone and they don't matter at all. As an example, Scotland's share
of the savings from scrapping the House of Lords would deliver 250
police officers, 290 teachers or 320 nurses.
The cost of
Trident and its replacement over the next 15 years is estimated as £52.5
billion for the UK. As an illustration that is enough to run Scotland's
health service for 5 years.
Our MPs will
work to ensure that Scots get the opportunity to be consulted on our own
Labour, Tory and
the Liberals in the Welsh Assembly have voted to hold a referendum on
extending its powers. The UK Government is proposing a referendum on
reform of the Westminster voting system and the House of Lords. Here in
Scotland, opinion polls show that three quarters of people want a
referendum on the constitution. So if a referendum is right for Wales
and right for Westminster, it is surely right for Scotland.
Labour manifesto specifically commits to backing a referendum on more
powers for Wales and yet they are trying to block the same for Scotland.
The Tory manifesto says they will 'grant a referendum’ on more powers
for the Welsh Assembly.
Social Attitudes Survey - mid-January 2010, 69% favoured
significantly more powers for the Scottish Parliament
- Angus Reid
poll – December 2009, 64% of respondents in Scotland favoured
increased powers. 25% independence, 22% some additional powers as
proposed by the Calman recommendations, and 17% more additional
powers, including full fiscal powers
candidate will sign a pledge of accessibility, accountability and
openness – it will be their Community Commitment.
The pledge will
set out the standards SNP members will follow if elected as Scotland’s
local and national champions. It is a pledge of accessibility,
accountability and openness – that is their commitment to Scotland’s
voters. The commitment says:
services. Protecting local services is my
number one priority. I will argue for cuts to fall on trident nuclear
weapons not public services.
Office. I will open a constituency office
as soon as possible that is in an accessible location and where I can
always be contacted.
Consultation. I will publish a monthly
newsletter and make this available to all constituents. I will use this
to conduct regular surveys of opinion in the constituency to keep me
informed of the things that matter most to you.
Surgeries. I will hold a minimum of four
surgeries a month, advertised locally across the constituency and will
hold regular public meetings for constituents.
Expenses. I will publish all my office and
personal expenses as an MP online and where the rules are tighter, will
follow the restrictions on expenses that are in place in the Scottish
of anachronisms like the unelected House of Lords
The SNP are
strongly against keeping the House of Lords, an un-elected body that can
legislate with no public mandate. It is an out of date, antiquated
institution and an expensive one as well. Scotland manages perfectly
well with a single chamber legislature – the UK can do the same.
The SNP will
also continue to lead cross-party calls for the return of £150 million
lottery funds diverted from Scotland to help fund the London 2012 games.
Funding for good
causes and community projects in some of the most deprived communities
will be threatened.
Our criticism is
not about the Olympics itself, but we do not believe that good causes
should be sacrificed to meet the spiralling cost of these games.
Millions diverted from local causes will be spent on regenerating
London, not on promoting sport or the greater good.
games will leave a lasting legacy not just for Glasgow, but the whole of
Scotland. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring the legacy is
the right one. That’s why they have listened and talked to Scotland's
people and organisations to establish what they want the lasting effects
of the Games to be.
Economy & Jobs
We will be
demanding the release of the Fossil Fuel Levy money so it can be used to
deliver £200 million new investment in renewables
The value of the
Fossil Fuel fund has virtually trebled since 2007 and with it the
potential for Scotland to invest in our green energy future. The fund of
almost £200m could be used, for example, to kick start the first wave of
infrastructure upgrades identified in the National Renewables
Infrastructure Plan. It must be released.
And SNP MPs
will join with the Scottish Government to press for Scotland to have the
ability to borrow.
councils and the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government
does not have the right to borrow money. This means it cannot take
similar action to normal independent countries around the world who are
borrowing to help stimulate their economy and protect their people.
It is estimated
that every £100 million of borrowing for infrastructure investment could
generate up to 1,500 jobs.
government should use its influence as a controlling shareholder in some
of the UK's major banks to ensure increased access to credit.
flurry of announcements designed to give the impression of doing
something, real questions remain as to the effectiveness of the UK
A recent survey
by the Scottish government shows that Scots firms are continuing to face
challenges in accessing cash flow to grow their businesses. While
conditions appear to have eased to some degree and banks are more
willing to lend to viable business propositions, the survey suggests
that lower amounts of finance are being obtained and that costs are an
issue for the majority of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.
reflected in the raft of measures the Scottish Government have put in
place to support Scotland's small businesses including the Small
Business Bonus Scheme and the Scottish investment Fund.
firms are likely to secure 100 per cent of the funding sought. For all
SMEs, nearly 40 per cent of firms felt the cost of finance was higher
than one year previous.
We support calls for an international
financial sector is still in a fragile state and an international bank
tax would act as a safety net for any future crises that may cause
instability in the global financial sector. Any agreement however would
have to be approved upon by all the major banking institutions.
We will support steps to limit bonus
payments as part of wider regulatory reform that encourages a return to
only be paid for a job well done. Weak regulation and oversight are to
blame for this banking crisis. Any bonuses should encourage long-term
sustainable growth and as such it is welcome that most bonuses are being
offered in shares.
absolutely should not be used to fund lavish bonuses for the already
well rewarded. If financial incentives are, as RBS claims, essential to
attract talent these should be offered in shares - to ensure the long
term prosperity of the bank.
A fairer Scotland
We believe the minimum wage should
increase in line with earnings.
This will ensure
a fair rise for low paid workers right across Scotland. Low paid workers
must not be allowed to fall further into poverty. A fair increase will
ensure that the earnings of low-paid workers do not fall behind the rest
of the country. The current Minimum Wage level is £5.80 for those aged
22 and over. Under Labour’s policy, it will rise to about £7 an hour by
2015 which we will match.
There should be no new taxes or
contributions, or changes to Attendance Allowance or Carer's Allowance
that will impact on Scots, to pay for reform of care for the elderly
have come under fierce criticism – forcing Labour to announce that they
would delay abolishing AA for the duration of the next Parliament,
setting up a Commission into social care funding in the meantime. There
are currently about 170,000 Scots receiving Attendance Allowance and
45,000 on Carer’s Allowance.
reported to have a new 10% levy (death tax) on every estate as a way of
funding care for the elderly, however, this was ruled out just prior to
the election. They will pay for care reform through freezing Inheritance
Tax Thresholds until 2014-15.
The SNP will support moves to extend
paternity leave – it is right that both parents are able to take
adequate leave in the first months of their child's life.
The early years
are the most important and the SNP will support moves to extend
paternity leave – it is right that both parents are able to take
adequate leave in the first months of their child’s life.
proposing to extend paternity leave from 2 weeks to 4 weeks and we will
match this commitment, which will benefit thousands of fathers across
As a result of representations from
SNP MPs, the Scottish Government is now exploring options for the
introduction of a Veterans Card in Scotland to improve access to
The card would
build on the recognition already given to Scotland’s veterans by the
Scottish Government through priority medical care, extending
concessionary travel schemes to injured veterans and the £240,000
Veterans Fund which supports veteran’s charities and services.
service veterans deserve more than just respect, they deserve to know
that the country they have served so well will stand by them when they
return to civilian life.
Government is already moving to introduce extra help, such as free bus
travel for injured veterans. And, at a time when Scots-based units are
currently on the front-line in Afghanistan, we need to show support to
them and their families. The introduction a Veterans' Card would be a
massive signal of support to those who have served their nation with
The card will
allow the Scottish Government to contact veterans in Scotland, update
them on services and support and tailor policies in different parts of
the country where there are different demands on services relating to
health and housing. It can also provide ID for commercial partners and
organisations that want to give them special promotions or discounts.
The benefits system should provide
incentives for work, rather than barriers to work and should more
closely meet Scottish needs and circumstances and be easier to access.
complex forms create a barrier to claiming benefits they are entitled
to. The Scottish Government has therefore been working on benefits take
up campaigns. An example of this is that by applying for the Central
Heating Programme and now through the Energy Assistance Package (EAP),
pensioners can ensure they receive all the benefits they are entitled
to. Every pensioner who applies to the EAP has the option of getting a
free benefits check from the Pension Service. For example in our first
year and a half in office, Scottish pensioners made more than £1.8
million from free benefits checks
training courses or doing voluntary work to improve their employment
prospects would not be penalised by losing benefits. Reductions in
benefits to reflect people's improved circumstances would be set to
match policy objectives, and integrated with the overall taxation system
Our MPs will press for the Home
Office to end the practice of holding the children of asylum seekers in
The detention of
children in these centres is both shameful and immoral in a society
which prides itself on justice, compassion and the protection of
The SNP oppose
the detention of children in Dungavel and Scottish Government efforts
have led to the establishment of a pilot project intended to keep
children out of the centre.
The SNP has had
a long-standing commitment to ending this practice and has repeatedly
called on the UK Government to act - not only in practice but in law
through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We are committed to retain all
Scotland's current bases. And remain committed to the restoration of
Scotland's historic infantry regiments which were amalgamated in 2006
And given the increasing strains on service family life we believe that
Scottish recruited units should be based as close to home as is
The SNP does not wish to see Scottish
troops committed in Afghanistan without time limit, without being given
a sense of their overarching goals, without a clear vision of what is
being fought for, and without a consideration of the means that will be
necessary to achieve such an end. That is why we must now have a proper
review of the UK's strategy and approach.
The SNP will not introduce tuition
fees or top up fees and will oppose any changes in English fees
arrangements that have the knock on effect of reducing funding for
Scotland through the Barnett formula, as we have done previously.
The SNP is opposed to university tuition fees in principle, whether they
are standard fees or top-up fees.
Top-up fees in England will mean that a growing proportion of spending
on English higher education is private money – which will not generate
any spending rises in Scotland via the Barnett Formula.
Through the 16+ Learning Choices to
offer a place of learning to every young person as they reach the end of
their compulsory school years.
Encouraging all young people to stay in learning post-16 is the best way
of ensuring their long-term employability and contribution to society.
That is why positive and sustained progressions post-16 is one of the
indicators in the government’s national performance framework.
16+ Learning Choices is our model for supporting this within Curriculum
for Excellence. We are working with local authorities and their partners
to ensure that every young person has an appropriate, relevant,
attractive offer of learning made to them, well in advance of their
school leaving date.
And we are also working to improve
the life chances of young Scots, with an increase in the number of free
hours of nursery education.
There is no need for new nuclear
And the £840m new Southern General
hospital in Glasgow
The SNP Scottish Government decision to fund the new £842m Southern
General hospital in Glasgow entirely from public capital also
illustrates our opposition to the 'one for the price of two' delivered
previously through PFI – an arrangement that squeezed the money that was
available year in and year to support patient care.
We are taking forward proposals to
tackle alcohol misuse including a policy of minimum pricing that is
targeted on the cheap alcohol that fuels so much of the anti-social
behaviour and violence on our streets.
Even the House of Commons Select Committee – made up of Labour Tory and
Liberal MPs - acknowledged the crippling effect of alcohol on
society and said that imposing a minimum price could save up to
3000 lives a year. The report rejected as a myth the suggestion that
minimum pricing would unfairly affect moderate drinkers.
The SNP's minimum pricing proposals are widely supported by a number of
agencies including all four chief medical officers, the Royal College of
Physicians, senior police and the licensed trade as well as opposition
politicians in the Welsh Assembly and two former Scottish Labour Health
Currently, the number of police
officers in Scotland is at 17,273 – 1039 higher than when we came to
office and more than the 1,000 extra we promised. Our MPs will do all
they can to protect the funding for these officers who are making
Scotland's streets safer.
A record number of police on the beat, along with the SNP Government’s
action on tackling crime and record police funding, is boosting
Scotland’s local communities. The latest figures show that recorded
crime in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level since 1980. We are
committed to taking the action needed to keep driving crime down, and
tackling the underlying causes of crime – drink, drugs and deprivation
And they will be working to protect
investment in initiatives like the highly effective Violence Reduction
We are supporting the excellent work of the national Violence Reduction
Unit, including record levels of investment. One of the most
high-profile initiatives of the Violence Reduction Unit has been to use
airport-style scanners at railway stations and clubs to target those who
could be carrying knives.
So there you are then a clear and achievable. That’s what Scotland needs
not a bunch of Londoncentric MPs who will not stand for Scotland. I urge
you to vote SNP and don’t end up with another feeble fifty of whatever
unionist party they come from.
Last week I got out and about with our candidates Clare Adamson and
Graeme Horne. I was in Hamilton with Clare talking to voters and getting
a real sense that people really need a change. In Clare Adamson they
will have a champion who will stand up for them locally and stand up for
them nationally in Lanark and Hamilton East. This is me and Clare at the
top cross and don’t be fooled we know exactly what direction we are
I was then onto Caledonian Bowling
club and Burnbank Hamilton with Graeme Horne for the opening
season where we met some wonderful people who through their involvement
in the bowling club. On Monday night it was out to Paisley
to speak at the first meeting of a new support group for Motor
Neurone Disease sufferers in Renfrewshire. The Group has been kick
started by Cllr Lorraine Cameron and her brother Ian who discovered
there was no local MND support in Renfrewshire following their Mum being
diagnosed with the illness. As a patron of MND Scotland I know how
valuable these support groups are and best wishes to the Paisley group.
The group meets at the Accord Hospice on Hawkhead Road and for more
information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to
Tuesday morning found me at Motherwell Football Club at Fir Park
in Motherwell for a very enjoyable Show Racism the Red Card event.
I was hugely impressed both by the enthusiasm and
interest shown by the young people and the dedication of Mickey Weir,
Derek Ferguson and Stevie Kirk to the cause of fighting racism. I'm sure
that the children went away with a very strong message about the
unacceptability of racist attitudes and behaviour, not just in football
but in all aspects of life. Show Racism the Red Card is an extremely
worthwhile cause and I congratulate Motherwell FC and all the clubs
across Scotland who are giving it their support.