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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Friday, 15 April 2011

SNP Manifesto

Quite late in the day we now have the SNP manifesto. As you would expect from the current government party it is largely a description of what they claim to have achieved over the past four years.

There is plenty in this manifesto to support. The SNP record on aspects of health policy is sound and in particular their rejection of privatisation and no compulsory redundancies. Similarly, there is an unequivocal commitment against the privatisation of Scottish water and the trojan horse of mutualisation.  Coupled with an ambitious vision for developing our greatest asset. The policy on student fees is welcome as is the promised additional funding.

Some new commitments on funding early years is welcome. UNISON has been critical about aspects of the Scottish Government policy is this area that has been stronger on frameworks than action. The new focus on preventative spending and the development of family centres is welcome. Although there is still an obsession with nursery teachers and other early years professionals barely get a mention.

Other aspects of the manifesto are less welcome. In justice the claimed 1000 police officers 'on the beat' is outrageously misleading. Many of these police officers are backfilling civilian staff - behind a desk, not on the beat where they should be. Five more years of the Council Tax freeze may be popular but there is no mention of the schools, day centres and other council services that will be closed to pay for this. Not to mention the increase in charges for services that are more regressive than the Council Tax. The energy policy with 100% coming from renewables has rightly been ridiculed in this morning's media. A balanced energy policy is always the right policy.

Overall a bit of the proverbial curate's egg. Good in parts, but with some very silly bits. And of course we have the big distraction of separation. Nothing specific on the timing of another referendum promise - so we can expect five more years of complaining (in or out of government) rather than focusing on the key issues.

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