The Scottish National Party (SNP) published its manifesto late in the campaign, after other major parties had set out their stall.

It can be accessed here: https://​www​.snp​.org/​g​e​n​e​r​a​l​-​e​l​e​c​t​i​o​n​-​2019/

Here is a summary of some of the key ideas from the Evangelical Alliance team in Scotland. 

As each person will have different priorities in this election, the aim here is not to summarise every policy. Instead, below are four areas of interest based on four good questions to ask when reading a manifesto: 

  • What are the headlines? 
  • What long-standing ideas are applied to new problems? 
  • What new issues is the party discussing? 
  • What unanswered questions remain? 

What are the headlines?

A few quotes from the past month of SNP publications highlight the demands of the party: 

Scotland’s future belongs in Europe, Scotland’s future is it’s own”

With independence, our country will thrive”

Vote SNP to put Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands.”

Brexit has destroyed the idea of the United Kingdom as a partnership of equals.”

The core narrative of the manifesto is the need for Scottish Independence as a defence against Brexit chaos, (i.e. against the Conservative party and its leadership). However, the party is also opposed to any cooperation with Labour, due to that party’s stance on nuclear power (on which statements have recently been issued outlining requirements for cooperation). The SNP would consider cooperation with Labour as a last resort, but not in the form of a coalition government. 

More positively, Scotland is portrayed by the manifesto as a European nation, with a proud, long-standing history of being such. This emphasis comes in the light both of Brexit, and of the campaign for another independence referendum in 2020. The main push behind this stance is the 62 per cent Remain vote in Scotland in the 2016 Brexit referendum. This is portrayed by the SNP as being ignored” by the current UK Government, which is depicted as an affront to Scotland’s democratic principles and as showing a lack of respect for the devolved powers of Holyrood.

Other key features of the SNP manifesto:

  • A real end to austerity and the support of young people in Scotland, against the DUP involvement
  • Power over migration (growth of population and a less hostile environment)
  • Power over employment law to protect workers rights and increase the living wage
  • Climate change in the UK to match Scotland’s progression
  • No more nuclear weapons
  • End of two child cap, end of universal credit, increased paternity leave
  • Right of people of Scotland to choose their own future

Old news

Scotland’s independence is thetheme of the SNP — it is now being branded more than ever as an escape from Brexit and from Westminster. However, the central ideas of Scottish independence and what it represents to the party have been expanded on in the following areas, in light of current events:

  • Child protection

We all want our children to be safe and do we all we can to protect them, but when it comes to online harm, we are behind the times in tackling it.”

The idea is to put more safeguards in place in the online sphere, as younger generations spend increased amounts of time on the Internet and social media. 

  • End of nuclear power

This is one of the conditions for a Labour minority government being supported by the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon has outlined that Trident must be shut down and that the funds that would have gone to this industry must be used to end austerity and increase public health funding. This is not a new issue, but with talk of deals in the air, it is being approached more fervently than before.

  • Health

Sturgeon has long since said that she will invest more into the NHS in Scotland. However, this is now being argued more urgently in the light of recent drug statistics (discussed below), as well as fears surrounding a possible UK-US trade deal. 

  • Devolved migration powers

Scotland under the SNP would have its own immigration policy separate from the rest of the UK. This proposal is made particularly in the light of Brexit and its implications for the independence to which the party aspires.

What's new?

  • Immigration

Sturgeon has been heavily criticised for a lack of clarity around her proposal for Scotland to leave of the UK and rejoin the EU –particularly on the issues of employment and border control. On the basis of assumed independence, they plan to create a tailored asylum and immigration system geared specifically to Scotland’s needs, centered on fairness and human rights. This connects with the demand for increased powers of devolution to Holyrood.

  • Drugs

The SNP will call for the devolution of drug policy so that the Scottish Government can take the steps needed to tackle addiction, reduce health risks and tackle drug-related harm in Scotland. The aim is to match Scottish per capita NHS spending (by £136), which will deliver increased funding for Scotland. In addition, they will also seek a National Health Service Protection Act which prevents the NHS in Scotland from being part of any future Brexit trade-deals. 

However, challenges remain. A question over the SNP’s record have been raised by the recent disaster at QEU (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) and also by last year’s health statistics. Drug misuse and dependency are a particular problem in Scotland’s major cities which is being addressed seriously in this election.

What unanswered questions remain?

There is a lot of discussion around how Scottish independence will provide a more prosperous future for Scotland, but not about how they plan to get the EU to agree to Scotland rejoining – assuming that Brexit goes through in January. Looking at the length and extent of difficulty in getting Brexit sorted, it seems unlikely that Scotland‘s re-entry will be quick or easy — as promised by the current First Minister. Statements from the First Minister such as Boris’ Brexit deal may get us out, but does not prepare us for the future” highlight the frustration of the party with the lack of preparation for the future of the UK. However, the SNP has not clarified how the Scottish government hopes to do better, and provide a prosperous future for Scotland by a second independence referendum.

Equally, the loud cries of unfairness and lack of democratic principle at ignoring the 62% Remain of Scotland in the Brexit referendum, itself raises the question of the 55% No” result of the Scottish independence referendum to stay in the UK in 2014.

Finally. in relation to the increased NHS funding, the SNP Programme for Government 2019 – 2020 highlighted that some of the proceeds which they hope to funnel into the public health expenditure would allow for easier and younger access to the contraceptive pill and abortion services. This has not really been mentioned in this year’s election manifesto, but it is worth keeping in mind.