They claim to be the third biggest political party in the UK. Now with polling continuing to show that a majority government looks unlikely, the SNP could hold huge sway in Westminster if they form even a loose alliance with Labour.
But aside from not wanting to be governed by Westminster, what else do the Scottish Nationalist stand for? Most people in England haven’t had to trouble themselves with reading the manifesto, letting those north of the border deal with hard left agenda of Salmond, and latterly Sturgeon.
Since the SNP have said their MPs would vote on English only matters, as well as potentially propping up a Miliband government should their budget be left wing enough, it’s time voters in England and Wales realise that those they may have previously dismissed as woad covered, ‘freedom’ shouting Scottish Nationalists could have an alarming amount of influence over their lives.
Dr Patrick Harkness, a lecturer at Glasgow University who hails from Northern Ireland, said voters needed to be aware of the “desire for centralisation and state control” which the SNP grasp for.
“For me”, he says, “there is a feeling of being unwelcome because I have come to Scotland from another part of the UK.”
“The message the SNP send out that is England, Wales and Northern Ireland are holding Scotland back.”
“Everything they do is about making Scotland more Scottish, trying to eliminate ‘Britain’ from anything. I’ve eve heard it proposed that the British Transport Police up here should be removed and their role amalgamated into Police Scotland – just because of their name.”
But then a focus on Scotland cannot come a surprise to a party which wants to destroy the United Kingdom – and includes the policy in its constitution. So why would a UK-wide party want to do a deal with them when it would lead to increased animosity between Scotland and the rest of the country and cause a serious problem for the majority party in the coalition?
That is a serious concern for NHS surgeon Jon Stanley, who lives in Edinburgh and studies at the university there. He is angry that any UK wide party would do a deal with the SNP given their overarching narrative of destroying the UK.
“I have a simple message for the SNP,” he said. “If you want to be involved in British politics at all then you have to produce a British manifesto. No other party should even be speaking to them unless they do that because otherwise it’s just holding the country to ransom.”
The UKIP candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale said the party had spent the last two years saying, “this doesn’t work, let’s wreck it.”
“But in Scotland while things may not be worse than they were under Labour, they certainly aren’t any better and the state control is, quite frankly, sick.”
“Since the day my child was born there has been a named officer assigned to her,” he says. “It is currently the health worker but that could change and what it means is that at any time someone who is answerable to the Scottish government always has an excuse to knock on your door and come in for a chat and interfere in how you bring up your child.”
Rural communities in Scotland benefit from a reduction in the price of petrol and diesel, with independent transportation being seen as essential even by the car-hating (unless it’s for themselves) European Commission. It’s another way that Scotland has engineered a concession and the drive for ‘exclusions’ and ‘exemptions’ makes any much needed change in the Barnet formula to end the huge financial transfers from England to Scotland less likely than an igloo in the Sahara.
But energy bills are sky high, mainly due to the SNPs insistence on 50 per cent of energy being produced from renewable sources. They are big supporters of the ‘low carbon economy’, with the 2010 manifesto calling for an ‘increase in “low-carbon” employment in Scotland by 60,000 by 2020, with renewable energy supporting 26,000 jobs, emerging low carbon technologies a further 26,000 and environmental management 8,000 more.’
Contributing to this rise in the price of energy was the closure of a key coal fired power station, which fell foul of EU rules. Despite the impact it would have on the country which sees a colder climate, the SNP did nothing to stop this.
They also called for the first phase of the high speed rail network to take place in Scotland, rather than London, despite the entire country having a smaller population than England’s capital. Not that their track record on transport is in any way something to boast about: the Scottish government spent £350 million on a ‘railway to nowhere’ in the borders, reversing the Beeching cut in a Liberal Democrat voting area. Consultants working on the project, accountants Ernst and Young, reported that there was “no explanation as to why Transport Scotland wish to proceed with a project with a negative net present value (NPV)”.
Amongst the left, Scotland is held up as some kind of beacon of educational attainment, with no tuition fees (unless you’re from England and you want to study at a Scottish university) for students to encourage students from all socio economic backgrounds to break down the barriers. But in reality, this has done the reverse, with the money to fund university education coming at the expense of further education, with Holyrood slashing tens of thousands of college places for those who might not want to remain in academia facing fewer options post school.
What is most alarming, outside of state sponsored nannies, is the gerrymandering around hospital waiting lists which was flagged when NHS Lothian was caught manipulating its waiting lists, partly by wrongly classifying patients as ‘unavailable’.
The scandal resulted in Audit Scotland investigating the practices of all health boards, with the Auditor General telling MSPs in 2013 that: “We think that the focus of attention during 2011 for both the Scottish Government and NHS boards was on whether the 18-week treatment target time was being achieved, rather than how it was being achieved.”
Caroline Gardner told the Holyrood committee that the former Scottish Health Minister should have investigated why the proportion of patients marked as “socially unavailable” for treatment had risen from 11 per cent to more than 30 per cent.
“If NHS boards and the government had been looking at the other information which was available, such as the increasing use of social unavailability codes, that should have raised some warning signs which would have merited further investigation,” she said.
And she told politicians that the published information on patients “should have rung warning bells”.
The SNPs white paper on an Independent Scotland was ripped to shreds by anyone who had access to a calculator, or indeed a pencil, paper and some basic arithmetic. And it’s this disregard for the numbers adding up, particularly when the UK desperately needs its deficit gone and a responsible budget in place for 2015 that the spotlight needs to fall on the SNP and the huge damage they could cause.
The cost of their support for backing a Labour budget may well be the scrapping of our nuclear deterrent: something which worked so well for the Ukraine. But in its place, we can all look forward to the ‘Scottish Centre for Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution’ to promote peaceful alternatives to armed conflict.
One wonders if that would even prevent a fevered wee shouting match between Alex Salmond and Ed Miliband, let alone keep Putin and other concerning world leaders at bay.