Election 2015 Scotland

Election 2015: Scottish National Party manifesto at-a-glance

manifesto snp Image copyright Reuters

The Scottish National Party has launched its manifesto ahead of the general election on 7 May. The full document is available online. Here are the main things you need to know.


Key messages

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"Stronger for Scotland" is the message emblazoned on the front of the SNP's election manifesto.

It aims to set out an "alternative to austerity" and position the party as a force for UK-wide change.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon promised voters in the rest of the UK her party would use its influence after the general election "responsibly and constructively".

She said her party would seek to make "common cause and build alliances" with others of like mind across the UK to deliver the "progressive change that so many want to see".


Key policies

Although it is only standing in Scotland's 59 constituencies, the SNP says it wants to deliver "progressive politics for the whole UK". Its manifesto makes pledges on UK policies, arguing that they will reflect positively on Scotland. Here are some of the most important:

  • A UK spending increase of 0.5% a year to allow at least £140bn extra investment in the economy and public services
  • An additional £9.5bn above inflation spending on the NHS across the UK by 2020/21
  • Backing for plans for an annual UK target of 100,000 affordable homes
  • An increase in the minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020
  • Restoration of the 50p top income tax rate for those earning more than £150,000
  • An increase in the Employment Allowance from £2,000 per business per year to £6,000
  • Oppose the £3bn cut in disability support
  • Retain the triple lock on pensions and protect the winter fuel allowance
  • Cancel the renewal of Trident nuclear missile system, based in Scotland

Austerity

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said that ending austerity was the SNP's number one priority in the election. She said she was putting forward a "clear alternative" to the further spending cuts proposed by the Tories and Labour. Pledges include:

  • "Modest" spending increases - 0.5% above inflation - in each year of the next parliament
  • Reduce the deficit and the national debt at a "slightly slower" rate
  • Restoration of the 50p tax rate for the highest earners, a mansion tax, and a bankers' bonus tax
  • Money from not renewing Trident to be invested in education, childcare and the NHS.

Health service

The running of the health service in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish government but the SNP says that funding decisions in England have a knock-on effect north of the border. The manifesto pledges:

  • The SNP would vote for an increase in health spending across the UK of £24bn by 2020/21 - £9.5bn above inflation.
  • That would deliver a total increase to the budget of NHS Scotland of £2bn by 2020/21
  • SNP MPs would vote against any further privatisation of the NHS in England
  • They would back any moves to restore the NHS to a fully public service

Independence

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Nicola Sturgeon told supporters at the manifesto launch that the SNP would always support independence. But she said this election was "not about independence". The pledges included:

  • Using SNP votes at Westminster to ensure the promises made during the referendum are delivered
  • Demand that the proposals of the Smith Commission on more powers for Scotland are delivered quickly and in full
  • Oppose any effort to undermine devolution
  • Seek agreement that the Scottish Parliament should move to "full financial responsibility"
  • Prioritise early devolution of powers over employment policy, including the minimum wage, welfare, business taxes, national insurance and equality policy

Older people

  • The SNP supports a single-tier pension of £160 per week
  • The "triple lock" should continue, guaranteeing that pensions will always rise by inflation, earnings or 2.5%
  • Protect the Winter Fuel Allowance
  • Oppose the abolition of Savings Credit
  • Seek a review of plans to increase the state pension age beyond 66

Childcare

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  • Oppose plans for further cuts in child benefit and tax credits
  • Vote to increase benefits at least in line with CPI inflation
  • Support an increase in free childcare to 30 hours per week by 2020

Bedroom tax

  • Vote for the immediate abolition of the "bedroom tax"
  • Scottish government is spending £35m a year to compensate those affected
  • Savings would be invested in measures to tackle food poverty

Education

  • Guarantee continuation of free university education in Scotland
  • Support the reduction of tuition fees across the UK
  • Extend the availability of Educational Maintenance Allowance in Scotland

Europe

  • Opposing withdrawal from the European Union
  • Oppose a referendum on membership of the EU
  • If there is an EU referendum, seek to ensure Scotland cannot be taken out "against its will"

Immigration

The SNP manifesto calls for an immigration policy that works for Scotland

  • It seeks the reintroduction of the post study work visa so foreign students educated in Scotland can make "a contribution to our economy"

Work

In-work poverty is a "modern day scandal that must be tackled", the SNP manifesto says.

  • The SNP supports increases in the personal tax allowance
  • Would back a 20% increase in the Work Allowance - the amount people are allowed to earn before their benefit is cut
  • Supports tough action to end "exploitative" zero hours contracts.

Democratic reform

Westminster badly needs to be reformed, the SNP manifesto says.

  • SNP MPs would vote for the abolition of the House of Lords
  • They would vote for the replacement of the first-past-the-post voting system with proportional representation

Others

  • Support for continuing the moratorium on fracking
  • Support lower energy bills for consumers by forcing energy companies to pass on lower energy prices
  • Increased investment through BBC Scotland so that a "fairer share" of the licence fee is spent in Scotland
  • Back budget plans to invest more in the infrastructure of Scotland and the north of England, including the commissioning of high speed rail linking Glasgow, Edinburgh and the north of England
  • Use influence at Westminster to ensure the UK matches Scotland's "ambitious" commitments to carbon reduction

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