The SNP manifesto indicates the seriousness of the public atmosphere.
It has always been like this: The upcoming election is the most important ever. I’m no history expert, but May’s Holyrood election is absolutely the most momentous one since the 2014 referendum. The reason for my strong claim is that the upcoming election is the first time since the 2014 referendum that the voters have been asked to stand up for their right to re-evaluate that decision.
This election is a renewed chance for voters to say they want another referendum on their independence. If the majority of MSPs elected to parliament stood on that platform, then that’s what they should do and what they were elected for.
Whether every party believes in another chance for independence or not, it’s pretty major stuff on people’s minds. And yet, with all the gravity of the situation, this is the quietest election campaign the Scots have ever been involved in, partly because all the campaigning and debating is being fought under necessary Covid-19 restrictions, but I think it’s also to do with the sobriety of the atmosphere.
Over the past decade, more than 10,000 of our people have died, thousands of fellow citizens have lost their jobs, and almost no scientist knows for sure when and how we are going to get rid of this pandemic. So, we shouldn’t act flabbergasted that the electorate acts as sober as a judge.
The SNP manifesto indicates the seriousness of the public atmosphere. The manifesto is a thick document, filled with policy pledges in every area. But they are concentrated and they are in the field.
For instance, on the matter of education, there must have been an inner urge to concentrate on record levels of government spending, building new schools, adding more instructors. Instead , rugby-tackling the gulf between the achievement of kids from low-income and poor backgrounds and kids from affluent families has been placed front and centre of the agenda. Fortunately, the gap is closing, but not satisfyingly fast enough despite picking out extra spending in schools.
The government must implement policies outside the classroom too. Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP government will enlarge the new Scottish Child Payment, give free launce to all primary school children and make sure every kid has a mobile device they can get online with and attend their class virtually. Sturgeon’s government still has a long way to go to get rid of the class system completely, but it can try to make the game rules for every kid equal and unprejudiced for those at the bottom of the income level.
In other areas such as health, transport and the environment, the attention is turned to serious practical measures to aid recovery from the pandemic. Some of these promises are not easy to fulfill, like full elimination of dental charges in the NHS, and taking the trains back into public ownership.
Personally, I like the SNP manifesto because it is practicable and it seems pragmatic to me. Nicola Sturgeon’s government is doing the groundwork for a universal basic income, for example, but it cannot put it into practice. Her government can argue the advantage of spending on our NHS rather than increasing the number of our nuclear weapons, but she cannot switch the money.
Not unless real change starts to happen in this country. Not unless the Scottish government has the authority and dimensions of a normal independent country. This is why, when we have finally managed to get rid of this plague, the Scottish people should be bestowed the chance to consider their independence.
When the time finally comes, it’s the Scottish people’s choice whether they want independence or not. Until then, we should focus on the May 6th election.