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I was the Head of Policy and Public Affairs at UNISON Scotland until my retirement in September 2018. I now work on several policy development projects, so all views are very definitely my own. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto

The main feature of the manifesto is making the first £10,000 of income tax free. Whilst this would be a welcome tax cut for our lowest paid members it is questionable if this is best way to support the low paid. This is because middle and high earners also gain from this method of cutting income tax with the consequent cost.

Low paid workers will be less impressed by the plans to cut public sector pay in real terms and attack their modest pensions. The commitment to abolish the minimum wage age rates is welcome, but the manifesto says nothing about increasing the minimum wage or for that matter supporting the Living Wage campaign. Fair pay audits is also something UNISON would support, but why only for organisations employing more than 100 staff?

Spending commitments would like the Tories be paid for by cutting waste. At least there is more detail in this manifesto, including welcome cuts in the use of management consultants, but it still looks pretty optimistic. Not replacing Trident is one way we would support, but the manifesto actually only commits to not replacing on a like for like basis. This would reduce any saving.

The manifesto is strong on climate change and the Liberal Democrats have a good record on this. However, the energy policy rejects both nuclear and coal, a position that is simply not credible in Scotland. A balanced energy policy is the best approach.

The partial sale of Royal Mail is not consistent with a commitment to the universal service. We also have populist but meaningless statements on cutting ‘red tape’, using the widely discredited sunset and ‘one in one out’ clauses.

Given the recent boost in Liberal Democrat poll ratings this manifesto is likely to come under some scrutiny as the campaign develops. As usual with the Liberal Democrats it is a bit of a curate’s egg, particularly for workers.

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