independence – self-determination – autonomy

SNP Manifesto for the Future

13048007_10153808923003101_673943184612664188_oDespite the slightly toe-curling Presidential style of the SNP 2016 campaign, there is much to be commended in today’s SNP manifesto. The vast arena of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre was backdrop to a slew of popular (and some radical) policy announcements. It is an ‘ambitious and reforming’ platform with exciting ideas on renewable energy, food and health, childcare, climate change and investment in health and education. We look between the lines of the policy promises.

tidalGreen Energy

The manifesto promises a “strategy will take a “whole system view” and encompass demand reduction, energy efficiency, a balanced energy generation mix, a role for storage, and the requirement for a low carbon transition in transport and heat use. We will develop creative approaches – for example, we will examine collective switching models and group buying of energy with an emphasis on those off-grid. As part of our work with stakeholders to develop the strategy we will seriously and carefully consider the proposal from industry body Scottish Renewables for Scotland to set a target of 50 per cent of all energy to come from renewables by 2030.”

This is a breakthrough moment with the key being “demand reduction”. It will be interesting to see the detail of this and what levers are used to enforce and encourage it. The 50% target is ambitious but achievable “seriously and carefully considering” something is different to doing it.

The manifesto makes plans to move towards investment in and ownership of renewable energy: “We will also explore the creation of a Scottish Renewable Energy Bond in order to allow savers to invest in and support Scotland’s renewable energy sector. We will ensure that by 2020, at least half of newly consented renewable energy projects will have an element of shared ownership. And we will argue for Scottish control of our share of feed-in tariffs to help promote community ownership schemes. We will explore the potential to create a government owned energy company to help the growth of local and community energy projects. This will include empowering communities to use the income from energy developments to support other communities develop their energy potential.”

This sounds great and is definitely the way to go, but the announcement lacks any details and the idea that the SG “will argue for Scottish control of our share of feed-in tariffs to help promote community ownership schemes” is contingent entirely on this case being won. Given Amber Rudd and David Cameron intransigence and anti-ecological thinking this seems unlikely.

Magnus Jamieson is more upbeat (‘The SNP’s vision for Scottish Renewables’) : “In summary, then, the SNP’s proposals are heartening for those working in the Scottish renewables sector and environmentalists alike (the WWF are pretty content with it as well). They are also diametrically opposed to the anti-onshore-wind, pro-nuclear, pro-fracking approach of the Conservative Government in Westminster, which further emphasises the need for full devolution of energy policy to Scotland.”

Global-Climate-Change-Dri-001Climate Change Targets

The climate change targets are very very welcome: “We will bring forward a new Climate Change Bill to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement and set an ambitious new target for Scotland to reduce emissions by more than 50 per cent by 2020” and there is evidence elsewhere of how this can be achieved against a backdrop of having previously missed the lower targets set. It doesn’t seem to make sense to give this ambitious (and essential) direction of travel and then announce:

“We will reduce Air Passenger Duty by 50 per cent during the course of the next Parliament.”

The need for a coherent cross-cutting climate change policy that combines joined-up thinking in housing, food, transport and energy is the key here, as well as a coherent cultural message – and if that emerges as the detail unfolds then we will celebrate that.

Tax Evasion

Given the Panama Papers and the recent furore it’s great and appropriate that the SNP are acting, announcing: “Companies involved in tax evasion will not benefit from public procurement in Scotland”.

This does however stand in stark opposition to recent reality. In recent years over £5 million of government funding was paid to Amazon through Scottish Enterprise despite the organisation only paying staff £7.20 an hour. In 2014 the corporation paid £11 million in tax despite £5.3 billion of British sales.

If it’s an about-turn that’s fantastic news.

Housing

The announcement that “We will invest over £3 billion over the next parliament to deliver at least 50,000 new affordable houses, of which at least 35,000 will be houses for social rent” is an unequivocal good thing to be celebrated in place of Scotland’s ongoing housing crisis. But it’s not just about building new homes its about akin the existing market affordable. Control and regulation of the rental market and of rip-off land lords is essential too. The announcement that: “We will introduce a Warm Homes Bill to help tackle fuel poverty” also sounds good, though it lacks detail.

553545_10152172482645716_76100661_nFood

In food and farming there is genuine hope and innovation, including the announcement that: “We will provide free meals to all 2, 3 and 4 year olds who benefit from increased nursery provision.” This is great news, contingent only on those meals being of a high quality and of the nutritional standards we aspire to.

The announcement that: “We will bring forward a Good Food Nation Bill to draw together all aspects of the Scottish Government’s work on food and drink – including food standards, public procurement and food waste. We will implement our Good Food Nation policy drawing on the expertise on the Scottish Food Commission and civic society” represents an open goal for the myriad food and health campaigns and the wider movement.

The Scottish Food Commission has, so far however, been a complete disaster, issuing reports that (literally) were devoid of any content whatsoever.

The announcement that: “We will put in place a joint food industry supply-chain and public sector procurement Taskforce to match demand with supply, ensuring more Scottish produce is procured by local authorities and public bodies” is to be applauded. lets hope that that Taskforce is well equipped with the resources and dynamism that such a task requires.

Equally the promise that: “We will set up a £5 million fund to promote Island and Regional food and drink brands and we will work to increase the supply and demand of organic food in Scotland, using public procurement to drive demand” is excellent, as is the promise to: “revisit our health and nutrition legislative framework for school meals to ensure that our children have more access to healthy, Scottish produce both within and outside the school gates. We will also encourage local authorities and other public agencies to procure Scottish produce.

So more organic, reviewing nutritional standards, expanding free school meal provision, and attempting to prime pump the local food economy through public procurement. If delivered this is a breakthrough.

The only downsides are really the National Chef idea which has been widely ridiculed and the curious statement that: “We will protect the sector’s international reputation by continuing our opt-out of the cultivation of genetically modified crops for the lifetime of the next Parliament.” Maybe I am being too cynical but that sentence reads to me like a very quiet climbdown. Somebody’s been had.

Health

The big announcement was the massive investment in health:

“We will increase the NHS revenue budget by £500 million more than inflation by the end of this parliament – which means that it will increase by almost £2 billion in total. We will reform the NHS to meet the challenge of an ageing population by investing an additional £1.3 billion in our health and social care partnerships, reforming primary care and increasing the numbers of GPs and nurses working in our communities.”

It’s an announcement that combines good policy with good politics.

bairnsboxes-400x400There’s other examples of stand-out practical-radical action, the best of which is the Bairn’s Box.

The idea is an opportunity to turn-away from the current practice of new parents being given a plastic bag of vouchers and useless cosmetics that their new-born most certainly doesn’t need, and instead have a universal provision that has provable benefits in terms of infant mortality rates.

It also acts as an antidote to the relentless commercialisation of babydom.

The tradition started in Finland in 1937, but was also pioneered in Aberdeen in the 1970s. It’s a social leveller that gives practical help to people at one of the most difficult times of their lives. Well done.

This is an excellent manifesto with much to commend it – even if it is the first time for nearly two decades that the SNP manifesto for Holyrood has not included an explicit commitment and timetable for a referendum.

There is a lot of missing detail and we will be trying to question that over the coming weeks by looking in more detail at each policy area. But what is striking is the sense of scale and ambition in many areas that the SNP are bringing to the policy arena. Whether they can deliver that is a different matter, either because of lack of powers or lack of coordination. But the spectacle of today has transformed an election characterised by in fighting, mindless photo-shoots and banality.

 

 

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81 Comments

  • Mike 5 months ago

    Perhaps those from RISE and the Greens can now appreciate that by being non extremist or single issue politically you can reach out to a broader range of support and convince more people of your aims and ambitions.

    Most people are not extremist or single issue concerned the majority have a whole range of concerns and issues they want prioritised and dealt with so when you make everything about the environment or socialism you cut off and disenfranchise far too many and will forever remain within a minority cliché.

    The idea is to convince sceptics that Independence is not a route to extremism or single issue politics but is favorable and a preferable approach to reaching their personal everyday concerns regarding employment housing health and poverty.

    My personal ideal would be to see a fully Independent Scottish Parliament with a rainbow alliance Government consensus. But I aint going to see that until full Independence is achieved and it wont be achieved by minority Devolved Government. That is simply a cold hard fact.

    Now I don't know if its too much to ask or expect hard core socialists or environmentalists to put the ideal of Independence before their convictions or to give Independence a priority of conviction but I would at least expect them to understand and acknowledge the facts and stop trying to deceive people into voting against their overall best interests.

    If you are convinced you will get your socialist or environmental goals within a devolved minority subjugated Parliament then by all means vote for it but if you realise that specific goals and ambitions can ONLY be fought for effectively within a fully Independent local Parliament then for fuck sake vote accordingly.

    Its not rocket science.

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    • Bella Caledonia Editor 5 months ago

      Mike - I have been campaigning for independence through Bella Caledonia for a decade. I don't need to be lectured to about 'giving Independence a priority of conviction'. Both RISE and the Greens have a commitment to independence in their manifestos. You do realise that don't you?

      It would be really good to have a discussion about the pros and cons of policy proposals as outlined in the article not another bickering slagging match.

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      • Mike 5 months ago

        Well that's easy. The biggest Con to all policy proposals is the fact that they cant be implemented to their fullest potential within a Devolved subjugated Parliament with limited power authority and funding.

        I believe we can all agree on that.

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      • muttley79 5 months ago

        The Scottish Greens are wanting one million voters to sign a petition before holding another independence referendum. Hardly a viable idea, and it is plainly not a credible commitment either.

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    • John 5 months ago

      It's a good manifesto and we can be 100% sure it will be fully costed , not figures plucked out of the air , juggled on an abacus , or spent ten times over .Forget any votes other than SNPX2 . Of course you are right , it will be pulled to bits , misinterpreted , ridiculed by the main suspects , but we are used to that .

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    • Frank 5 months ago

      Mike I don't see anything extremist about Rise or the Green party. Perhaps it would be useful if you could explain which of their policies are extreme?

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      • Mike 5 months ago

        RISE in terms of political ideology are extreme left in relative terms to everybody else in the UK apart from the Greens. The Greens are extremist in their environmental views.

        I'm not saying they're wrong or a I disagree with them I'm just pointing out in political terms they are extremist i.e not central neutral or broad based.

        You could say the SNP are extremist in terms of Independence and the break up of the UK Parliamentary union. I know I am.

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        • K. A. Mylchreest 5 months ago

          Surely you´ve all seen a ´normal distribution´ or ´bell curve´, the way when a lot of independent variables stack up you get a big hump in the middle with thin tails tapering off at the extremes? If your range of support moves off the centre you lose more than gain at the edge. Put simply if you can´t capture a good part of the hump then ... well in a democracy you´re humped!

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  • Awizgonny 5 months ago

    "the National Chef idea which has been widely ridiculed"

    Ridiculed by whom?

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  • Mike 5 months ago

    Nobody will be forced to "justify" or detail their manifesto commitments more than the SNP Scottish Government will. The Yoon media will see to that.

    Their manifesto will be picked and dissected more than all the other manifestos put together.

    So Mike I wouldn't be too concerned about any lack of detail or any unanswered questions yet.

    Nobody gets scrutinised more than the Scottish Government anywhere in the UK.

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    • Bella Caledonia Editor 5 months ago

      Okay, I'll not e concerned about lack of detail or any answered questions because it will be 'picked apart' but not by me because I am not to be too concerned. Got it.

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      • Mike 5 months ago

        "There is a lot of missing detail and we will be trying to question that over the coming weeks by looking in more detail at each policy area."

        Ok I hear you.

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        • Awizgonny 5 months ago

          With the editor on this one Mike - it's not only a right but a duty to scrutinise a Manifesto and give opinion. Just because a bunch of fucking hee-haws will spend the days up to the election misrepresenting and caricaturising the SNP manifesto does not mean we stay schtum.

          Further, the Editor, despite getting a tad grumpy here and there, is happy to allow full commentary on the articles here so that we can scrutinise and comment on ITS content (as I have done both in this thread and elsewhere on Bella). It's called open debate, and is the greatest aspect of the new online media.

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          • Bella Caledonia Editor 5 months ago

            Thank you.

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          • Mike 5 months ago

            You seem to think I'm against the idea of Bella scrutinising manifestos? I only pointed out the redundancy in trying to scrutinise the SNP manifesto as it will be dissected in a way a school kid takes apart a dead frog.

            There will be no mystery or stone left uncriticised.

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          • Awizgonny 5 months ago

            "You seem to think I’m against the idea of Bella scrutinising manifestos?"

            Yes, when it comes to the SNP manifesto. You make that clear in your pursuant statement:

            "I only pointed out the redundancy in trying to scrutinise the SNP manifesto..."

            That's "shouldn't"...

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  • Bert Logan 5 months ago

    Jeez, as a Green, its hard to ignore their move to the 'Green' - sods law, I kind of like it. Given the limitations of powers foisted on us by Westminster, its gratifying to see such ambition. Some of the scale will be difficult - again, it really says we need independence.

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  • Domhnall 5 months ago

    There's also a potentially very important detail buried in there on land reform and ending the anonymous land holding which allows companies based in the Cayman Islands and other offshore havens to prevent local communities from gaining access to land and developing it.

    It's not had much attention but is precisely the sort of dull, technical measure that can have far reaching consequences.

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  • Gashty McGonnard 5 months ago

    Well, I, for one, welcome our new Nat overlords...

    ...

    ... on second thoughts, that read like a fair and balanced analysis. Maybe the widely ridiculed Bella Caledonia has turned a corner 😉

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  • Alf Baird 5 months ago

    When you look at the annual spend implications the promised 'new' goodies they actually amount to less than 5% (c.£1.5bn) of the annual Holyrood budget. I assume this means 95% of our money is spent on the very same things as before, so not that much change really?

    Economic growth is rightly viewed as a top priority as it is needed to help pay for ever rising public sector costs/jobs. In this regard the manifesto accepts that exports must grow to achieve growth (yet exports are falling and have been for some time). However exports depend on ports (obviously) but there is nothing for ports in infrastructure spending plans, or any acknowledgement that Scotland's major outdated/obsolete ports are today owned by offshore tax haven firms/'bankers' (as are our airports): http://reidfoundation.org/2016/01/sort-out-our-ports/

    Productivity is also considered 'key' but how can you have a productive economy with outdated obsolete expensive ports (and airports and energy firms etc) all owned by offshore tax haven 'funds' and bankers?

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    • Mike 5 months ago

      You should be asking how can any Government afford to maintain its own ports and airports when they are forced to hand over 60% plus of their revenues to another Parliament.

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      • Alf Baird 5 months ago

        Mike, ScotGov invests in ports all the time, however these are domestic traffic harbours serving ferry services connecting 'voters' in islands to mainland Scotland. ScotGov chooses not to invest in international port connections aimed at growing exports, in part because there are no votes in doing that. No political party in Scotland has a real handle on economic growth, which is essentially why we don't have any growth. None of them can see for example the rather obvious relationship between exports/trade and seaports, and hence economic growth, unlike more dynamic economies such as Dubai, Singapore, Norway, Hong Kong, Oman, Germany, Flanders, Netherlands etc who view their seaports as strategic economic engines. This undoubtedly has a lot to do with the fact most of our politicians (and civil servants) have a public sector career background, hence they tend to have little appreciation of the importance of trade/commerce. Telling also that the FM's Council of Economic Advisors have seldom if ever mentioned trade, far less seaports. In recent years the major jobs growth has been in the public sector and it is questionable how long that can continue.

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        • Mike 5 months ago

          Do you understand the added difficulty in trying to find funding in relative terms between a Devolved Government administration and a fully functional fully funded Independent Government body?

          In having FFA relative to limited fiscal autonomy? You do see the financial limitations of our current situation? You do see money that could be spent on all the goodies Scotland needs going to help pay off Trident and warmongering? 3 million a day just to bomb Syria.

          This is what I mean when I say that no matter what the policy is or the intent without full Independent authority to act the results will always be subjective to enforced limitation and enforced financial deprivation.

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          • Alf Baird 5 months ago

            The point you miss, Mike, is why state in the manifesto that economic growth and exports are vitally important if there is no effective strategy to bring about substantial increases in exports?

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    • Onwards 5 months ago

      Alf, I agree with a focus on infrastructure. But getting a majority is the priority at the moment, and the NHS is #1 priority for most voters.

      Dualling the A9 and A96 is going to eat up a lot of the transport budget.

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  • kailyard rules 5 months ago

    SNP x 2......SNP x 2

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  • Chris 5 months ago

    I know this may not be a big deal to most people but I would love to ask the SNP 2 questions.

    1. Do you support the legalisation of cannabis.

    If not....

    2. Do you support the criminalisation of Tabacco & Alcohol.

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  • Mike Adams 5 months ago

    It's great to see a broad consensus on tackling climate change amongst especially Indy parties, but Scottish Labour too.

    It also accentuates the fact that within the Union we don't have the powers we need over energy policy.

    Hats off to the SNP for the renewable energy bond idea to secure the investment we need.

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  • Ghillie 5 months ago

    Just read outline of the SNP Manifesto.

    Am impressed and very happy with it!

    Scotland is well along it's road to Independence! We're getting there = )

    Very helpful article over on Wings Over Scotland too.

    I truly believe everyone should vote with their heads and their hearts. Good luck one and all!

    For me it's SNP and SNP = )

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    • Frank 5 months ago

      Three cheers for the government...

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      • K. A. Mylchreest 5 months ago

        Now how often do you hear that? -- LOL!

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  • Mike 5 months ago

    “You seem to think I’m against the idea of Bella scrutinising manifestos?”

    Yes, when it comes to the SNP manifesto. You make that clear in your pursuant statement:

    “I only pointed out the redundancy in trying to scrutinise the SNP manifesto…”

    "That’s “shouldn’t”…"

    Well clearly not and clearly it isn't. I should also add that any and all criticism by pro indy supporters will be especially highlighted twisted and used as propaganda by the Yoon media.

    I don't object to seeing RISE or Green MSPs elected I only object to RISE and the Greens risking a minority Government by trying to poach SNP support in the lists by wrongly claiming a tactical vote will ensure a pro Indy representation which can hold the Scottish Government to account. All that will happen is an increased chance of allowing more Labour Conservative and even a UKIP presence in Parliament.

    The numbers have been crunched and RISE would need a 10x increase in support just to get a single representative. That will certainly result in Labour taking marginal seats from the SNP.
    1 pro Indy seat for half a dozen re-elected Labour MSPs? Not a good deal in my book.

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    • John Page 5 months ago

      You are a bore. Please give us all a break. You could write a computer programme so that you could issue the same message no matter what articles appear or whatever posts are made.

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      • Mike 5 months ago

        Says the man whos left with nothing but bitter and twisted as a response.

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        • John Page 5 months ago

          Not at all bitter and not twisted. I have been idealist all my life. I want to see a Scottish Republic with a written constitution that echoes the Declaration of Arbroath by making the people of Scotland (and not wealthy landlords or foreign corporates) sovereign. I also want to see the rights of nature enshrined in that Constitution.
          But I am finding your continuous trolling about SNP*2 to be a total bore. You seem to have a limited understanding of political issues in the widest sense, your waffle above about the risks of not giving the SNP the second vote makes it clear you have a tenuous grasp of the de Hont system but above all you don't have the self awareness to realise that you are being counterproductive by your one track commentary.
          Much as I like Bella and frequently learn lots of new things from peoples' posts to the articles, I will simply read the articles until after the election so as not to be irritated by your vexatious and totally pointless trolling

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          • Mike 5 months ago

            I'm always willing to learn from the all knowing. So show me in as much detail as you can manage how splitting the SNP vote doesn't risk a majority pro Indy Government.

            And when you fail to do that I will link you to a detailed analysis which proves it does.

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  • John B Dick 5 months ago

    The retired midwife in this house who worked in the poorer areas of Glasgow half a century ago is impressed.

    The best thing in Scotland's Future was the word "investment" when used for current expenditure on early years nutrition and education, with returns of every kind decades later.

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    • Bella Caledonia Editor 5 months ago

      Agreed!

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  • Dick Winchester 5 months ago

    You're right to point out the SNP's ambitious renewable energy targets but this doesn't seem to be supported by a plan to build a renewable/clean technology manufacturing sector. It's relatively easy to achieve policy objectives using other country's technology but there's an opportunity here to broaden and increase the value of Scotland's economy and we should be taking it.

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    • Tony Little 5 months ago

      You are quite right Dick, but remember that the SG is now faced with the WM government withdrawing subsidy and support to the renewable sector. This has had an immediate impact on a number of projects which will no longer go ahead.

      I noted with interest that one of the areas for consideration in the SG MoU with China was the renewables sector. The SG are trying to find ways of compensating for the lost support from London.

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  • Mike 5 months ago

    "The point you miss, Mike, is why state in the manifesto that economic growth and exports are vitally important if there is no effective strategy to bring about substantial increases in exports?"

    Because pointing out economic growth and exports are not important would be lying.

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    • Alf Baird 5 months ago

      Ah, you mean it was just the usual political 'spin' then? Like I could say 'Scottish jobs in manufacturing are important' despite the fact jobs in manufacturing continue to rapidly dissapear?

      Maybe we could extrapolate this kind of spin to the issue of independence. Did you and the other SNPx2 cheerleaders notice she put independence into the very long grass? As in, 'jam tomorrow', at some obscure time in the future, maybe, depends on etc?

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      • Mike 5 months ago

        If I meant it was political spin I would have posted "It was political spin" and not something completely different to that assertion.

        You could indeed say Scottish jobs in manufacturing are important but you wouldn't be able to fit it in with your failed attempts to make any kind of a point.

        I noticed she cleverly didn't make a promise she couldn't keep. Why would she allow the Yoons to force her into making a promise to hold a referendum at a time when she may believe it was unwinnable? As it is We don't have to have a referendum within the next 4 years if it doesn't look winnable but could if it does and no promises or commitments would be broken.

        I wonder why you're pretending you don't understand that strategy?

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        • Alf Baird 5 months ago

          I prefer politicians to give firm commitments otherwise there is always doubt about their real intentions, especially with the kind of wishy washy language she (and many other politicians) uses. Why does she no longer seek a mandate for independence at each and every national election as (was) the SNP's raison detre? She would still be elected FM either way, especially given the polls and the dire unionist alternatives on offer. So what is to stop her campaiging for a mandate from the people to deliver independence like the SNP always used to do at elections? Is her aspiration really just to manage a devolved unionist institution?

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          • Mike 5 months ago

            She has sought a mandate for Independence you're still pretending you don't understand the commitment when we both know fine well that you do.

            All she has done is ensured she doesn't have to break a promise by not holding a referendum within the next 4 years if the indications show another failure is obvious. Yet she can still hold one if the indications and appetite for Independence is evident.
            That's being clever and shows why she is the right choice to lead the Independence movement.

            What politicians anywhere are allowed to make firm commitments? The very art of politics is flexibility and not allowing yourself to be committed to any specific course of action which cannot be altered as circumstances warrant. Again something you obviously know very well.

            You're acting out ignorance and pretence which I believe you don't have. Smacks of trolling.

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          • Alf Baird 5 months ago

            Mike, depends where you are coming from. I can still see an enormous waste of public money in many areas, in addition to policy inaction and/or incompetence in many strategically important aspects. This has major implications for Scotland's future socio-economic prospects. I don't buy into the 'Blair' type of spin and PR of any party. The SNP do not "lead" the independence movement; it is the other way around, with the people leading. The lifecycle of all political parties is now ever shorter since the electorate has become more engaged. There are always going to be uncritical sycophants lurking around/within political parties, praising every breath the party utters.

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        • John B Dick 5 months ago

          The strategy is that the date of inderef2 has been outsourced to Yougov. That's the right strategy and SG/SNP can get on with showing the electorate that they are not as ignorant of Scotland's demography, topography, culture and values as the Westminster 'elite', and that our parliamntary system (d'Hondt included) is fit for purpose and Westminster has failed.

          The Scottish parliament is a fresh regional brand challenging an old, tired and outdated brand. If current trends and movements continue, in a couple of generations the EU could call on Scotland to lead the invasion and annexation of a failed state on our borders.

          Would Nationalists approve of that?

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  • Big Jock 5 months ago

    The euro vote looms large. Until that is out of the way. The SNP cannot fully decide it's strategy. The strategy in the manifesto is based on all things being equal.

    Brexit would be a game changer. If RUK stays in then it's as you were. The SNP govern well and keep testing the water on independence. If the mood music says yes then indi 2 comes along.

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  • Willie 5 months ago

    A great manifesto and something we can all get behind.

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    • John 5 months ago

      Agreed !

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  • Mike 5 months ago

    "I can still see an enormous waste of public money in many areas, in addition to policy inaction and/or incompetence in many strategically important aspects."

    And you always will no matter who is in charge and no matter what they do. Its called not being perfect.

    "I don’t buy into the ‘Blair’ type of spin and PR of any party."

    And yet you employ it within every post.

    "The SNP do not “lead” the independence movement; it is the other way around, with the people leading."

    Some of these people you refer to are not Yes voters yet. The SNP and others to be fair are trying to persuade them trying to "lead" them into becoming part of the Independence movement.

    There are always going to be uncritical sycophants lurking around/within political parties, praising every breath the party utters.

    I am an uncritical sycophant with regards to the Scottish Parliament taking its full Independence from the Westminster Parliament I will never be a party sycophant.

    If I every get the chance in my lifetime to vote for the make up of an Independent Government I will not give both my votes to any single party because I believe the best Governments are Governments forced to Govern by consent. I never want to see a majority Government within an Independent Scottish Parliament but like you I realise we will never see an Independent Parliament without one within the Devolved Parliament.

    Like I said it aint rocket science.

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    • JamesMac 5 months ago

      I agree. I would like to see RISE and Greens offerring another path to indy. RISE have come closest to doing that so far, but it is not just about the referendum. It is about relations with Westminster. I think there is scope for a second more radical indy party, but we only one of them and it needs a very clear vision that every single voter understands without reading a manifesto.

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    • John 5 months ago

      Don't worry about being an uncritical sycophant if you want Mike , there is an army of critical sycophants out there in the name of the British Media who spout there SNP baad bile every day .

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  • old battle 5 months ago

    "Sport" has been subsumed within, perhaps under "Health". Yes, of course we must all get fitter to live healthier but Sport has other values and nurtures a diverse range of activities, cultural associations, commercial considerations, national identity and pride concerns that lie way beyond matters of health & well-being. A "Sporting Scotland" should have had its own focus as a mega-million pound industry, tourism driver, job creating industry as well as its role in community development & personal health outcomes.
    The Arts & Culture just made it (last chapter in the rear/rectum? of the
    (Wo)Manifesto. A return to a dedicated Scottish Screen/Film Agency is to be welcomed as well as more funding for touring live-theatre.
    What is missing is the "idea" of imbedding artists (from across disciplines) within community arts groups to empower local creative endeavour in order to generate forms of viable commercial activity AS WELL as enriching community (arts )development.
    Over-all an SNP programme very worth voting for and working for as part of a democratic process of devolution, self-government and ultimately sovereignty.

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  • JamesMac 5 months ago

    Am I the only person that would perfer that half billion to be spent on economic development than the NHS?

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    • Alf Baird 5 months ago

      Probably not much point in throwing another half a billion at Scottish Enterprise to squander on high executive salaries, consultancy fees, and hopeless aspirations/PR gimmicks disguised as 'economic priorities'.

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      • Jim_McIntyre 5 months ago

        I was thinking more a massive industrial policy in the West coast, a sustainable skyscraper or two, vertical farms or some other kind of experimental project with risks but building something really iconic with a big green angle.

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        • Alf Baird 5 months ago

          "iconic with a big green angle"; ah, the magic words Jim. Suggest you gie SE a call.

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          • Jim_McIntyre 5 months ago

            Are you not Solidarity? All about state enterprise?

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          • Alf Baird 5 months ago

            "state enterprise" for essential 'utilities'/monopolies and many public services, yes. For general bona fide businesses, no - best to let entrepreneurs do their thing, albeit with regulation. For improved regulation (especially of essential utilities extracting rents, via offshore), oh yes. For improved economic planning at national level, oh yes.

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  • Max Cruickshank 5 months ago

    Hi Mike, I have searched through the SNP manifesto for any reference to one of Scotland's biggest health problems, drug misuse in all of its form, from tobacco, to alcohol and illicit drugs. Why I wonder is this no longer on the agenda? At the very lease the SNP who claim that they want to listen to the people, should be prepared to open up public debate on the issue of Decriminalising or Legalising drugs so we could all contribute to turing around the completely failed policies of Westminster and the devolved parliaments.

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    • Mike 5 months ago

      You wont find a pledge or agenda to not warmonger or invade other countries but I believe we can take it as a given they wont.

      A manifesto is a summery of intent not an epic novel of biblical proportions detailing every and all manner of issues and intentions.

      Who wants to read a 10k page manifesto?

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    • Bella Caledonia Editor 5 months ago

      Good question

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    • Jim_McIntyre 5 months ago

      Max- it is not devolved. You would have to decriminilise it through sentencing (eg give no sentences to offenders of drug crimes). The most annoying thing is that there is no easy way to tax it. Independence would likely be needed for that unless the Greens can think of a way to jimmy a licensing system. Westminster would be livid (there would be talk of suspending Holyrood) but those thinking radical strategies work (like the old Militant crew) should not be scared of that.

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  • thomaspotter2014 5 months ago

    What a nice honest article followed by good constructive debate.

    The Indy bus has room for all it's children.

    So get on the bus.

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  • Steven Milne 5 months ago

    I reckon that Snp are committing to approx £10 billion of increased spending over life of next parliament. This equates to approx £400 per annum for every man, woman and child in Scotland.

    How is this going to paid for?

    Between 2013/14 and 2014/15 North Sea tax revenues reduced from £4.7 billion to £0.1 billion. This is a drop of £900 per head of population in Scotland.

    How can this gap be closed?

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    • Mike 5 months ago

      Steven you look awfie confused. Scotland has never received a penny in NS Oil and Gas revenues since the stuff was found and exploited. If Scotland were to receive a penny a barrel it would be a surplus over what Scotland gets now and has gotten since 1706.

      I suspect the Scottish Government will do what all Governments do they will borrow because for the first time ever they are allowed to do so.

      Why do so many people have such a problem with reality?

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      • Steven Milne 5 months ago

        The international money markets will not lend to countries who run massive deficits as a % of GDP. Do you recall what happened in Greece around 6 months ago in the wake of the Syriza government implementing policies which the SNP are keen to emulate.

        The alternative to austerity is bankruptcy.

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        • Mike 5 months ago

          The UK has a National debt which is 333% of its GDP.

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/7957110/Government-urged-to-reveal-true-national-debt-of-4.8trillion.html

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    • Alf Baird 5 months ago

      Chinese 'private equity' (i.e. debt) as I recall?

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      • Mike 5 months ago

        Bit like the rest of the world then.

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        • Alf Baird 5 months ago

          Expect the Sinofortone website will be back up after May 5.

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          • Mike 5 months ago

            Youd be the only one on the planet who would give a monkies.

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          • Alf Baird 5 months ago

            On the contrary, Mike, I think offshore private equity funds, like PFI and its successor, are generally bad news for the Scottish economy. As it happens I have studied and published on some of the consequences:
            http://reidfoundation.org/2016/01/sort-out-our-ports/
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221053951300076X

            Unfortunately our political elite seems to favour their new 'flexible friend'. As Alan Bissett once said: "you'll pay for it".

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  • Mike 5 months ago

    There is no successor to PFI. It was abolished in Scotland.
    We are paying off the debt incurred before it was abolished.

    And if there is a website ever put up called Sinofortone why would anybody but you care?

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  • douglas clark 5 months ago

    There is a pressing problem here which may be best exemplified by the fix that the Unionist Parties are in. There are a limited number of votes, as it stands now, for Unionist policies. Consquently Labour and the Conservatives fight amongst themselves for who can out-do t'other in being Unionist. The result will be that either Ruth Davidson or Kezia Dugdale will lead the main opposition party. Their overall vote share is unlikely to alter much, and if it does it is likely to be marginally downward.

    If you truly believe that Green policies are best, and that the constitutional issue is secondary, then you should vote Green. Much as a Tory would vote Tory. There is no shame in that.

    But, if you vote on the basis that you expect, suspect, have looked at the tea leaves in the bottom of the cup and think it is safe to give your second vote to one of the minor parties, then - if you believe the constitutional issue is paramount - then you are opening a door to an outcome that you may not want.

    I think we need to win the war before we determine the terms of the peace, in the sense that an SNP 1 and 2, for those of us that see indepenence as the major prize, seems to me to be the safest course of action.

    To be as clear as I can be, once we have independence I shall probably vote Green. But we need independence to make that a viable option. In my opinion.

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    • Alf Baird 5 months ago

      The only candidate promising an Indyref2 bill is Tommy Sherdidan, so lets hope Tommy is re-elected. Do you think 70+ SNP MSP's would vote against Tommy's bill?

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      • Mike 5 months ago

        Tommy said he was giving his constituency vote to the SNP.

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  • douglas clark 5 months ago

    Alf,

    We cannot afford to lose a second vote. Whilst you are happy to push for it as soon as possible, I would like it when we will win it.

    So, I couldn't care less about Tommy Sheridan, and his chances of being elected look slim, to say the least.

    Could you please get out of the bubble of assuming that the whole of Scotland is in left wing hero worship of your icons?

    I want a lot of an independent Scotland, much of which might echo with you. These would include an end to monarchy, an end to privilege through wealth, probably an end to wealth at the upper end of land ownership and tax avoidance, an end to dire poverty, strike that, poverty at all, and some commitment to being a good nation that has given up nuclear weapons.

    And to go off on a tangent, I would like us to lead the world in research and development and invest in the spin off's from that. I would like us to research tidal power as much as we have wind and wave, and so on and so forth.

    That, more or less, is what I want for the future. Getting there is not going to happen through you nor Tommy Sheridan. It is going to take a majority of Scots to vote 'Yes' next time around.

    And that, Alf, is not eased by you thinking that everyone thinks as you think.

    Because we don't. (As far as I know, given the opinion polls and your lack of commitment to the SNP, I take it you represent someone else? Or is this 'tough love'?)

    To achieve any one of the objectives I mentioned above probably needs a completely competent Scottish government.

    Tommy Sheridan has many admirable qualities. Being a competent Scottish government has, strangely, eluded him so far.

    I expect it always will.

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    • Alf Baird 5 months ago

      Douglas, apologies, I seem to have touched a nerve, however the question still stands:

      "Do you think 70+ SNP MSP’s would vote against Tommy’s (REF2) bill?"

      I'm less interested in so-called 'competent (devolved) government' (the UK Home Civil Service are pretty dire by the way), and rather more interested in independent government.

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  • douglas clark 5 months ago

    Alf,

    You have touched a nerve.

    You have been consistently arguing, for a vote for independence in advance of substantial evidence that we can win it.

    You seem to think that all you have to say is 'call the election!' and it is won.

    That is clearly not the case right now.

    We need some time, perhaps a few months, perhaps a year, perhaps a decade before we go back to the electorate and ask again.

    Why?

    Because they will decide. Not you nor I nor anyone else. And until we can persuade them of an alternative independence to Referendum 1, which we lost, then we would be foolish to ask voters to jump the fence from 'no' to 'yes'.

    A week is a long time in politics.

    The sooner the voters move across to an independence stance the better, but calling a vote before they have done so looks crazy to me.

    Neither you nor I represent the majority. The majority voted 'No'. We have to deal with that, perhaps at the margins of their commitment, but, I, at least would not be for calling another referendum until we were at least 12 to 15 percent ahead.

    The opinion polls still suggest we would lose, right now, today.

    You, sir, would take that risk, call a referendum probably on the basis of the movement to us from them over the previous campaign. But, frankly, the low lying fruit has been swallowed up. It is going to be a lot harder to persuade the remaining crop to convert.

    We need to regroup around a currency, we need to deny oil as an issue, we need to let ideas like that and others I haven't thought about percolate into voters minds. We will not win them all, heaven forfend that we did, but we may persuade enough to make a second referendum unstoppable, see suggested figures up above...

    I want to win. The sooner the better, but a realistic chance of winning is more important (to me) than an arguement for immediacey.

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