LONDON — The Scottish National Party launched its manifesto with a promise to end austerity and a list of conditions for Jeremy Corbyn should he need support from another party to become prime minister.
As Brexit looms, against the will of the majority of voters in Scotland, the SNP is hoping the U.K.’s December 12 election will have a similar outcome to the 2015 ballot, when the party won a landslide victory. Turnout will be crucial for Sturgeon’s success, as a fall in participation was blamed for the party losing more than a third of its seats in the 2017 election.
Sturgeon has put a second independence referendum in 2020 at the core of the SNP manifesto, saying she would be willing to form a “progressive alliance” with Labour in return for a fresh ballot and extra cash for Scotland.
The SNP wants Scotland to become an independent country and stay in the European Union. In order to achieve that, the party will demand that the U.K. government transfers the necessary powers to allow the Scottish parliament to hold a second vote on independence, which Sturgeon’s party wants to hold in 2020.
If Scotland becomes independent, a SNP government would seek to be readmitted into the EU, the manifesto says.
UK NATIONAL PARLIAMENT ELECTION POLL OF POLLS
The SNP says it would support a second EU referendum with Remain on the ballot paper. The party would be in favor of cancelling Brexit if that is the only alternative to leaving the EU without a deal, it adds.
“Whatever Scotland’s constitutional status, it is important for the U.K. to remain as close to the EU as possible. SNP MPs will always vote to protect Scotland’s place in the single market and customs union,” the manifesto says.
The SNP wants migration policy to be devolved to Edinburgh.
It says it will continue to press the U.K. government to guarantee EU nationals’ right to remain in Britain, and will back calls for EU nationals to be allowed to vote in U.K. general elections.
If the U.K. government introduces a seasonal migrant workers’ scheme to replace EU freedom of movement, the SNP says it will insist such a scheme meets the needs of workers and companies in Scotland.
The SNP will oppose Tory plans to require certain migrants to earn at least £30,000 in order to get a visa to work in the U.K., something the Johnson government has asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee to review. It will also campaign against the U.K. government’s Immigration Skills Charge, which forces employers to pay up to £5,000 per worker hired from outside the European Economic Area; and against indefinite immigration detention.
Access to citizenship has become increasingly costly, the SNP says, adding it would support a review of the citizenship application process with a view to bringing down its cost and reducing its complexity.
A streamlined visa scheme should be created to allow artists and performers to continue to work in the country, the party says.
The SNP says it will not support any U.K. government that does not put an end to austerity.
Its manifesto puts forward a funding plan for Scotland covering three core demands. First, reversing £1.5 billion cuts to the Scottish budget and increasing the budget in real terms; second, a plan to compensate for the last decade of austerity; and third, a demand for the U.K. government to increase per-head NHS funding south of the border to levels seen in Scotland, which it says is currently £136 per person higher. This increase in health spending in England would result in additional money for the Scottish NHS under the Barnett formula, which pegs public expenditure in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to levels in England.
It says the Scottish National Investment Bank, which will be operational in 2020, will provide £2 billion of long-term capital to companies and infrastructure projects. A top priority for the bank would be supporting the transition to net-zero carbon emissions.
The party will demand the devolution of employment and further tax powers, and support a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion.
SNP MPs will press for the statutory living wage and support a freeze on National Insurance contributions and Value Added Tax, as well as a reform of VAT to include exemptions on items such as children’s clothes.
To help businesses struggling to hire due to Brexit uncertainty, the SNP says it would support a rise in the National Insurance discount companies receive — the so-called Employment Allowance.
The party also wants to increase the transparency around tax paid by international companies “to ensure that they make a proportionate contribution to tax revenues.”
It will oppose any rise in the pension age and demand the end of the two-child benefit cap, the so-called rape clause, the bedroom tax and Universal Credit.
The SNP pledge to make mobility across Scotland more environmentally friendly by spending more than £500 million on buses, and helping people afford ultra-low emission vehicles by providing an additional £17 million in loans.
The party said it wants to reduce emissions from Scotland’s railways to zero by 2035 and will press the U.K. government to improve journey times between Scotland and London.
The Highlands and Islands could become the world’s first net zero aviation region by 2040, the SNP said. To achieve that, the party wants to start trials of low or zero emission flights, including electric planes, in 2021.
The SNP will press the U.K. government to support the roll-out of fiber broadband and 5G technology, and ensure Scotland gets “its fair share” of the £5 billion of U.K. government funding to expand gigabit broadband to remote areas.
The SNP wants the internet to be reclassified as an essential service.
After Brexit, SNP MPs will assess the impact of voluntary free roaming arrangements for mobile phone use in the EU, the manifesto says.
The manifesto says the biggest corporate failure in recent years was the “financial crash” and promises to work to make sure those responsible are held to account. It would do that by supporting the reinstatement of the reverse burden of proof, which required senior bank managers to show they had addressed any wrongdoing on their watch.
The party says it seems “unfair” that the taxpayer stepped in to bail out the banks while financial investors could reap a profit by selling shares in Royal Bank of Scotland “on the cheap.” To address that, the SNP would press for the public interest to be “fully protected” in any future disposal of RBS shares.
An SNP government would increase frontline health spending by more than £15 billion by 2021-2022, the manifesto says. It would call on the U.K government to match Scottish per capita NHS funding in England.
SNP MPs will push for a National Health Service Protection Act “to guarantee that trade deals will not undermine the founding principles of the NHS, nor open it to profit-driven exploitation,” and any future trade deals would require the consent of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Irish Assembly.
The SNP also wants the devolution of powers to tackle drug use and gambling.
New standards should be introduced to protect children from online harm, the party says. It floated plans to appoint an independent online regulator with the ability to impose heavy fines and block access to websites. The regulator would be funded through a levy on technology companies.
Agriculture and fishing
The SNP will fight for funding for agriculture and rural policy to be devolved to Scotland after Brexit, and to prevent post-Brexit tariffs on products such as seafood, fish and red meat, and for those sectors to be “fully compensated” if tariffs are introduced. They will also campaign for Scottish control of Scottish fisheries.
The party opposes the removal of import tariffs on products including cereals, horticulture, potatoes and eggs, saying doing so “could open up Scotland to sub-standard products.”
SNP MPs will promote reform of U.K. excise duty structures and tax for Scotch whisky. It also wants to ensure the continued use of Protected Geographical Indications, an EU scheme that designates a product originating in a specific place.
Climate and sustainability
The SNP pledged to make Scotland carbon neutral by 2040.
The party will campaign for the U.K. to remain aligned with EU environmental regulations after Brexit, and for the British government to continue to invest in carbon capture and storage technologies.
The manifesto includes plans for a Green Energy Deal to ensure renewable energy schemes get long-term funding certainty.
The SNP demands the ring-fencing of oil and gas receipts, creating a Net Zero Fund to drive investment in renewable energy, electric vehicles and carbon capture utilization and storage.
Fracking would not be supported, it says.
It proposes a reform of the energy market to help households with their home energy bills. SNP MPs would press for the introduction of a database of people who have not switched suppliers as well as a national free switching service, showing the energy tariffs available and average bills.
SNP MPs would campaign for tax incentives to help companies in their transition to zero emissions, and a reduction in VAT on energy efficiency improvements in homes.
The manifesto includes a target to plant 30 million trees annually in Scotland by 2025.
The SNP wants to expand childcare into the school holidays for primary pupils from the poorest backgrounds.
It pledges to keep higher education free, and to continue to use its £750 million Scottish Attainment Fund to help students from poorer backgrounds go to university.
In exchange for SNP support for Labour, Sturgeon would demand the removal of the Trident nuclear deterrent from Scotland, and use the money currently spent on the program for the NHS and other public services.
The manifesto says SNP MPs would build a cross-party coalition to scrap Trident “as quickly and as safely as possible.”
The SNP will continue to press for U.K. investment in “conventional defense” and demand that the U.K. maintains its commitment to spend 0.7 percent of GDP on international aid.
Law and order
The party says it has recruited an additional 1,000 police officers since it took office, and will continue to demand the U.K. government refunds “the £175 million in VAT owed to Scotland’s emergency services.”
Replacement of first-past-the-post voting system with the single transferable vote system; increase maternity leave to one year and increase paternity leave from 52 to 64 weeks.