Strong and Stable for Scotland

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Once again, I must admit that I am no fan of the SNP. I will be voting for the Labour Party manifesto on June 8th. So this is a partisan critique, it is up to you to decide if it is fair or not. I have concentrated on where there are differences between Labour and the SNP.

We must remember that it will only be either a Tory government hell bent on more devastation for the working class. Or a Labour Government that offers a huge change of travel for the UK with policies aimed clearly at re-balancing the economy away from the top 5% and redistributing power and wealth to the working class.

The SNP manifesto apes the Labour manifesto in quite a few places, repeal of the Trade Union Act and an end to Zero Hours Contracts, both of which they cannot or will not do in Holyrood. I saw it reported that they would move to a £10/hour rate, but the manifesto only ever commits to working towards a real living wage.

I have major issues with the SNP and the lack of real support for Trade Unions. Nicola stated at the STUC congress in 2016 that her Government would do all in its power to negate the Trade Union Act. This year nothing. The reality seems to be that this promise is being forgotten. They and the STUC are moving down the path of partnership agreements. These agreements actually destroy Trade Union activism and organisation. These agreements are Class collaboration in action. These agreements should be fought against as they are there to benefit the Management and to negate Trade Union power within the work place. The SNP have always been pro-business and are still. The STUC are playing into their hands, in my opinion, and it can only end in disaster for the Trade Unions and the organised working class labour movement as a whole

They do of course still have a commitment to end Trident Renewal, something again they cannot actual do anything about, unfortunately. They will end the Bedroom Tax once and for all in Scotland. At some point in the future, use their new powers to mitigate against the worst excesses the Tories have implemented in the Social Security system. They will also protect free care for the elderly.

The Manifesto is full of policies on the NHS and Education. Both of which have always been fully devolved and is not really relevant. There is not a manifesto from any party that will actually state that they are cutting funding to the NHS and Education. Regardless of the reality of the current situation.

I can spout on and on about the real term cuts to the Scottish budget. But also highlight at the same time, that on the NHS, Education and Local Government, the SNP have allocated a smaller percentage of their full allocation to these services than they received and have in fact inflicted real term cuts. Of course, they do not get an infinite budget and so use the money saved by this underfunding in the NHS, Education and Local Government to fund free prescriptions, the Bedroom Tax and free tuition. But have decimated Further Education and local Government spending at the same time.

You decide on yourself on the Education system in Scotland, the latest reports are alarming. But this worrying trend of giving money direct to head teachers, is a slippery slope to removing Education control away from local authorities.

I will agree that the NHS has more protection in Scotland from privatisation, but it is not in any way immune. The black holes evident in the budgets of the new Health and Social care boards is also alarming.

Their record on local public services is deplorable, with over 35,000 jobs lost since they came to power. With real term funding being reduced and the percentage of allocated monies being less that they receive. Their claim of protecting public services is very spurious.

An end to austerity

“SNP MPs will demand an end to austerity. We have a responsible plan to repair the public finances while also freeing up additional resources to bring an end to austerity.”

How has that old one worked out so far for the SNP. They can produce plans all they want, but have no real way of actually making a Tory Government agree to their “responsible plan”. They say they have a fiscal plan for the whole UK. A plan the Tories will ignore. A Plan that is based on borrowing to fill the black hole of the current deficit. It does not include any tax rises and is based on spurious statements of intent and has no real substance.

All this rhetoric is not backed up by what really transpires and with the reality of what is happening in Scotland. Where they continually refuse to use the powers they do have to go even some way to “ending austerity”.

The only party that is capable of ending the austerity agenda in the UK is the Labour Party. The only party that has a fully costed and transparent anti austerity manifesto is the Labour Party.

 

On Tax

Labour will Tax the top 5% and increase business tax. With those Earning more than £80,000 paying more. They will put greater resources into HMRC to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. Labour will increase in Corporation Tax.

The SNP once again have a 50p top tax rate in their manifesto, but only if this is a UK wide tax rate. So once again a promise of a 50p rate that will be ignored if it is a Tory government. They are not advocating a rise in Corporation Tax and actually wanted to reduce corporation tax in an independent Scotland.

To be fair to them, there is very little they can do on Tax Evasion and Avoidance. They could of course ensure that no public contracts would be given to any company that is involved in aggressive tax avoidance.

So the reality here is that only the Labour Party promises to tax the richest a wee bit more.

Brexit

The SNP manifesto mentions Brexit 42 times and the Single Market 17 times, in a 48 page document and only mentions independence 6 time. As I have stated for some while now, indyref2 or ScotRef, will be indistinctly linked with EU membership.

Scotland’s place in Europe

“The SNP believes that if Scotland chooses to become independent, we should be a member state of the EU. Before asking people to vote in an independence referendum, we will set out the process by which our membership of the EU will be secured in the circumstances that prevail at that time, such as whether or not Scotland has already left the EU as part of the UK.”

The Independence question will indeed be, Independence within the EU.

They are determined to remain within the EU Single Market, regardless of how any negotiations go. They are also determined that an independent Scotland will become a full member of the EU.

They shot their bolt too quickly is my take on Brexit and ScotRef. Nicola is regretting firing the gun so soon after Brexit. It has miss-fired and she knows it. What she is doing now is damage limitation.

The SNP are, as I have always believed, running scared. They expected a huge surge of support for independence after Brexit. They have since discovered that their stance has not improved that support, and it might actually have weakened.

They are now hoping to string it out until after the Brexit negotiations, in the hope that the deal struck will boost their support once more. All the while that support reduces year on year.

Hence the huge amount of space given over to Brexit and the Single Market in the Manifesto. It is all about re-iterating that Scotland was dragged out of the EU against its will.

The reality here is once again, it will only be one of two parties negotiating Brexit. The Tory Party of the Labour Party with Corbyn at the helm.

What is missing?

Rail – Labour will nationalise.

The SNP actually defend Abelio Scotrail in their manifesto and lay 54% of the blame for this privateer’s failings on Network Rail. They only commit to allowing a public-sector operator the chance to bid when the franchise is up. This is not very left wing, especially as they knew that Labour had committed to nationalisation.

Energy – Labour will ban fracking now. The SNP? Who knows what they really believe? The public consultation was set up to be concluded after all the elections were concluded and that now covers this General Election. So the SNP will only announce its real intentions after they are set in power for at least 4 years, across local and national Governments. There is a huge amount of worry in the anti-fracking community about the public consultation as it appears it is set up to prove it is safe.

Labour will introduce a national Energy company to tackle the Energy rip off that the privateers and the Tory Government have put in place. The SNP are jumping on the Tory price cap bandwagon, that was decried as a Communist policy in 2015.

Housing – By the end of the next Parliament Labour commit to building at least 100,000 council and housing association homes per year.

The SNP have only re-stated their current plan, that over the current term of the Scottish Parliament, that they will build at least 35,000 homes for social rent over that period.

In Fife it was a Labour administration that build the most Social housing in the UK. Go figure that one, because the SNP do claim those as theirs.

Private Rent – Labour will end insecurity for private renters by introducing controls on rent rises, more secure tenancies, landlord licensing and new consumer rights for renters.

I can find nothing in the SNP manifesto on Private rental market. Please put me right on this if I have missed it, because I do hope I missed this.

Social Security

I actually like what they say about Social Security reforms. I have always given them credit on their stance in this area. They do actually walk the walk when it comes to Social Security and do all within their power to curb the excesses of the Tory Party.

But now we have a Labour party that;

  • “Will act immediately to end the worst excesses of the Conservative government’s changes.
  • Scrap the punitive sanctions regime
  • Scrap the Bedroom Tax and reinstate Housing Benefit for under-21s
  • Scrap cuts to Bereavement Support Payment.

The cuts to work allowances in Universal Credit (UC), and the decision to limit tax credit and UC payments to the first two children in a family, are an attack on low-income families and will increase child poverty. Labour will reform and redesign UC, ending six-week delays in payment and the ‘rape clause’.”

All off the above on Social Security, I do believe the SNP will fully support and implement in Scotland.

But once again only a Labour Government can actually implement these policies throughout the whole UK.

The reality of the SNP manifesto is that it is a re-hash of the last Scottish Election one. It spends a lot of time telling us what they have done and will do in the already fully devolved areas of the NHS, Education and Transport.

The SNP Manifesto spends a huge amount of time on Brexit and the EU. This is understandable from their viewpoint, as they hope to stem the flow of people who are leaving the Independence side.

The reality is that on a Labour Government elected on the current Labour manifesto is capable of creating a real progressive, left programme that goes a long way to redistribute wealth, control and democracy to the working class.

The SNP manifesto is nothing but a centre right set of policies, dressed up in a centre left set of Emperor’s new clothes. It will suit their supporters but anyone else scrutinising it and being truthful will see it for what it is.

The SNP are, Neo-liberalism dressed as Social Democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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