Sunday, 19 April 2015

SNP Manifesto for Delivery UK-Wide: Centre-Piece is Alternative to Cuts

Tomorrow morning sees the launch in Edinburgh of the Scottish National Party's General Election manifesto, with a weekend of heightened activity having led up to it.

The manifesto is being launched the day before ballot packs start to arrive in people's homes on Tuesday for the start of the postal votes.

Thus weekend saw the appearance of a new campaign poster and image featuring Nicola Sturgeon and the words: "My vow is to make Scotland stronger at Westminster", highlighting the SNP's core campaign message.

Nicola appearing on the poster reflects her exceptionally strong approval ratings - which the latest YouGov poll in Scotland showed are increasing. 71% of people think Nicola Sturgeon is doing well as First Minister, compared to just 23% who think she is doing badly. The net approval rating of +48 is a significant increase on the already high +33 recorded last month.

A remarkable 71% of people who voted Labour in 2010 believe that she is doing well.

By contrast, only 34% think Jim Murphy is doing well as Scottish Labour leader compared to 52% who think he is doing badly, minus 18. Ed Miliband’s ratings are even worse than those of Mr Murphy, with just 24% thinking he is doing well, and 70% who say he is doing badly, minus 46. David Cameron is minus 25.

No other party is featuring their UK-wide or Scottish leader in this campaign.

The image will appear on 400 outdoor posters, supplemented by a fleet of six mobile ad trucks, and newspaper adverts in the Highlands & Islands and south of Scotland. In addition, a postcard with the image will be mailed directly to all postal voters in Scotland - around 800,000 people - and 2.4 million of the postcards will be distributed.

To a greater extent that ever before, the SNP manifesto is a programme for delivery on a UK-wide basis, reflecting the fact that the overwhelming likelihood and public expectation is that the next House of Commons is going to be a hung parliament - with the real possibility that SNP MPs can hold the balance of power and therefore be in a decisive position at Westminster.

The SNP's complete relevance to a Westminster General Election - for perhaps the first time - has been underlined by Nicola Sturgeon's participation and hugely impressive performances in the UK-wide TV debates. The SNP are contesting a UK-wide election entirely on its own terms, having demonstrated that being a strong voice for Scotland - including seeking the maximum devolution we were promised by Westminster in the referendum - and a progressive force in UK politics are mutually reinforcing.

The centrepiece of this approach is the SNP's alternative to continued austerity cuts, with proposals for modest real terms spending increases of 0.5 per cent a year, which would still see debt and the deficit fall but also free up substantial resources for investment in jobs, economic growth, and public services.

The manifesto will also commit SNP MPs to participate in votes on major issues south of the border such as a Bill to restore the NHS in England to a fully public, publicly-accountable service - reversing the 2012 Health and Social Care Act - which will also protect Scotland's budget by stopping the process of privatisation and patient charging in England which threatens future public finding.

And our proposals to cancel the renewal of Trident would free up some £3 billion of expenditure UK-wide per annum - rising to a peak of £4 billion by the 2020s - which we advocate should be spent on health, education and childcare.

A senior SNP campaign source said:

"This will be a manifesto for delivery UK-wide, with our alternative to cuts its centre-piece. For perhaps the first time, the SNP have proved our complete relevance to a Westminster General Election - not least with Nicola Sturgeon's hugely impressive performances in the TV debates. And if we earn people's trust in May 7, we can be in a decisive position to help deliver a bolder programme than Labour on their own are willing to. Being a strong voice for Scotland and a progressive force in UK politics are two sides of the same coin.

"Our message on Monday is that if people vote SNP they get SNP - and more importantly they get policies at Westminster on the economy, health, Trident and across all areas that deliver real change and real progress."
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