I have lost count of the number of times I have been exhorted to fight this election on the basis of policies. I’ve also lost count of the number of times I’ve been told voting SNP will keep a Labour government “in check”, “push Labour left”, and ensure things are delivered “for Scotland”.
The SNP have – finally – launched their manifesto for the 2015 general election and we can compare it to the Scottish Labour manifesto. So let’s take a look at the concrete policies, now they are out, and see if this argument stacks up.
In each case I’ll compare Labour and the SNP, and look at the impact SNP votes might have on the policy of a Labour government.
|Labour commitment||SNP commitment||Impact of SNP on Labour|
|Cut the deficit every year and reach current account surplus by end of parliament||Additional borrowing every year and retain deficit past end of parliament||More money spent on debt interest rather than public services|
|Increase taxes on wealthiest in first year, meaning immediate increase in public spending||Stick to Tory spending plans for first year||Bigger cuts in public services|
|Protect spending on health, with additional spending from Mansion Tax||Will protect spending, but promises of additional spending are uncosted||Risk to increased NHS funding|
|Protect spending on education and international development||No commitment to protect these spending areas||Risk of cuts in education and overseas aid|
|50p tax rate for highest earners||Same||None|
|Ban exploitative zero-hours contracts||Consult on zero-hours contracts||No definite action against exploiting workers|
|Make it illegal to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers||No equivalent||Risk of continued exploitation of migrant workers|
|End blacklisting and back an enquiry into it||No mention||Blacklisting goes unpunished, will happen again|
|Abolish loophole that allows firms to undercut permanent staff using agency workers on lower pay||No mention||More job insecurity, wages driven lower|
|Mansion tax to redistribute wealth across the UK from richest to poorest||Opposed – mansion tax to only apply within Scotland, raising significantly less money||More inequality, less money to spend on essential public services for those who most need them|
|Stop winter fuel payments to richest 5% of pensioners; cut ministerial pay.||Opposed||Less money to spend on public services for the poorest|
|New 10p starting rate of tax||Same||None|
|End Marriage Tax Allowance||Same||None|
|No increase on basic/high income tax, National Insurance or VAT||No equivalent||Risk of VAT rises or other stealth taxes|
|Tough penalties on tax evasion, close loopholes on unfair avoidance||Broadly equivalent||None|
|End non-dom status to reduce tax avoidance||Same||None|
|Long-term investment approach via National Infrastructure Commission||No cross-UK investment plans||Fewer opportunities for the vital investment Scotland and the rest of the UK needs|
|Improved access to finance for co-operatives and mutuals from the British Investment Bank||No equivalent||Lack of support for co-ops and mutuals to improve inclusion and best value|
|Tax rebates to Living Wage employers||No equivalent||Fewer workers benefit from Living Wage|
|Minimum Wage to reach at least £8 per hour||Minimum wage to reach £8.70 per hour||Higher wages for the lowest paid|
|End fees for employment tribunals||Fees to remain||Access to justice denied to unfairly treated workers|
|Guarantee the Barnett Formula||End the Barnett Formula||Catastrophic black hole in Scotland’s finances likely to be around £30-£40bn across this parliament|
|Protect pensions across the UK||Protect pensions in Scotland||Almost impossible to see how this is compatible with Full Fiscal Autonomy without massive cuts elsewhere|
|Energy price freeze and reform energy market||No equivalent||Risk of higher energy prices and continued failing market|
|Implement Smith Agreement in full||Attempt to hijack Smith Agreement to shoehorn in additional demands||Risk that the further devolution agreed by all parties is derailed|
|Continue to pool and share resources across the UK||Full fiscal autonomy||Less redistribution of wealth. Less money to spend on public services in Scotland. More money for England and Wales.|
|Constitutional convention for the whole UK||No equivalent||Lack of opportunity for people across rest of UK to participate in constitutional reform|
|Abolish House of Lords and replace with Senate of Nations & Regions||Abolish House of Lords, no replacement||Further erosion of the unity of the UK|
|Remain in the EU||Same||None|
|Enable public/non-profit ownership of railways||No equivalent||Railways continue to siphon public money off into private shareholders’ pockets|
|Ambitious low carbon target for whole of UK||Roughly equivalent, though only declared for Scotland||None|
|Triple lock against fracking||Broadly equivalent opposition to fracking||Little difference, though local communities denied final say|
|Votes for 16 and 17 year olds||Same||None|
|No tuition fees for university students in Scotland||Same||None|
|£1,600 Future Fund for every 18 & 19 year old not in college, uni or apprenticeship||No equivalent||Fewer life chances for those who need them most|
|Retain the BBC as a widely respected publicly funded broadcaster for the whole UK||Break up the BBC to create separate Scottish version||Duplication of spending, less quality TV.|
|Reverse the 2012 Health and Social Care Act||Same||None|
|Build 200,000 homes a year across the UK||Build 100,000 homes a year across the UK||Lack of affordable housing|
|LGBT Rights Envoy||Similar||None|
|Respect Scotland’s democratic decision to remain part of the UK||“We will always support independence”||Constant grudge and grievance to push for independence|
|Free bus travel for all apprentices||No equivalent||Fewer opportunities for young people to get into work|
|New £200m Mental Health Fund, new £200m Cancer Fund||No clear equivalent||Risk that these priority areas do not receive appropriate additional resources|
|Reverse cuts to HE bursaries and restore highest level for poorest students||Opposed||Less access to further and higher education for the least advantaged|
|Scottish Anti-Poverty Fund to make food banks history||No equivalent||Less help for those most in need|
|Double paternity leave & increase maternity pay||No equivalent||Tougher for parents of newborns|
|Scottish Jobs Guarantee paid for by bankers bonus tax||No equivalent||Less opportunity for work|
|Restore local accountability to Scotland’s policing||Continue the centralisation agenda||Police Scotland continues to lose public support|
|Fully implement Leveson||Same||None|
|Strategic Defence Review in 1st year to include Trident||No renewal of Trident||Given large Commons majority for Trident renewal, SNP anti-Trident policy unlikely to have any effect|
I’m sure alert readers will highlight any errors or omissions, but by my reading of the two manifestos, the only positives an SNP vote brings is a promise of a higher minimum wage, and an admirable but almost certainly doomed-to-failure commitment to scrap Trident.
Across numerous other areas, a vote for the SNP rather than Labour will have a negative effect on public spending, health, economic growth, access to education and, fundamentally, on the core aim of Scottish Labour which is to deliver a fairer Scotland.
The argument that a strong group of SNP MPs will help Scotland is blown out of the water. The more votes for the SNP the less likely a Labour government anyway, but as can be seen from this analysis, were a Labour government to be in power reliant on SNP support, it would be disastrous for Scotland.
Scotland needs a Labour majority government in the UK.
A vote for the SNP is a vote against Scotland’s interests.
A handy booklet version PDF of this manifesto comparison can be downloaded here:
LH manifesto comparison april 2015 small