Another day another manifesto. This time Scottish Labour.
Scottish Labour prepares its manifesto very differently from other parties. It is the culmination of a two year process of consultation, not just with party activists, but with Civic Scotland and the public. And it shows throughout the manifesto. From a UNISON perspective, when other manifestos talk about teachers, Labour also talks to nursery staff, classroom assistants and others. The same applies to other services. By properly engaging with trade unions the manifesto reflects many of the concerns of the workers who deliver essential services.
Each section of the manifesto starts with a real person's story. Then a vision of what Labour stands for, followed by the detailed policies. No uncosted promises that a government in the current financial climate can't meet. But lots of often small, but important changes, that could improve Scotland.
Unlike 2007 this manifesto is unrelentingly positive. Its about what Scottish Labour will do, not what others haven't. I think that reflects what people want to hear about in this election.
That doesn't mean I agree with everything in this manifesto. I am sceptical about the creation of national services for care, police and fire, until it can be demonstrated that there are effective mechanisms for local delegation and accountability. The Council Tax freeze and small business bonus may have been forced by political reality, but it is still wrong. All the political parties claim to be committed to preventative spending, yet these tax cuts would pay for 9000 extra early years staff. That could make a real impact on children from disadvantaged homes during those vital early years, saving literally £billions in later years.
However, probably the most important message from Scottish Labour is that the Scottish Parliament was created for the hard times. There may not be much cash but the parliament can protect Scotland from the worst excesses the Con-Dem Government is imposing in England. As Iain Gray put it very clearly:
"It means we can say, with our hand on our heart.
You see what the Tories are doing to the NHS in England? We won’t have that here.
You see what the Tories are doing to the universities in England? We won’t have that here.
You see what the Tories are doing to council services in England? We won’t have that here.
This is what our parliament is for. And Labour will use it to fight for the things that really matter"
A strong and important message to go with a manifesto that is about what we can do with our own devolved Parliament.