A whistle stop tour through the SNP Manifesto

At 44 pages long, it’s shorter than Labour’s mighty tome, but the SNP manifesto still manages to cram a lot in.  A word to the wise – don’t try to read the online version without a magnifying glass.  Or else you’ll find yourself with your nose pressed against the screen squinting and peering at all the detail.  The downloadable pdf is better.

So a quick whistle-stop tour through the SNP/Scotland “journey” and what did the burd find to like and dislike?

The positives first.  It’s a great narrative and the journey idea is a good one, with the SNP’s history and people woven throughout and linked to Scotland’s past, present and future.  Congratulations, Stephen Noon, for coming up with a format that works.  I like the big glossy photos of the team (though always wonder why “fixer” Bruce Crawford is posted missing from these occasions, given his instrumental role in the team in the last four years?) and the wee personal touches.  Makes them all a bit more human and I suppose that is the point.  The back page with the map of achievements is a strong finish and gives a great visual imprint of what the SNP has done in the last four years.

Independence, the route and its point, sits at the heart of proceedings which I think is telling and hopeful.  The focus on the Scottish Futures Fund at the start of the journey is great.  The summary too of the key manifesto pledges is good and there is some strong content throughout.  As well as offering the inevitable big numbers and splash the cash approach, it’s heartening to see that part of the SNP’s re-elect platform will be to consolidate progress made since 2007, either through legislative embedding or taking action further on a number of key initiatives. 

The negatives?  Well that focus on inputs – yes I know I’m beginning to bore even myself with this one but you all know what the problem is here.  Introducing an interview format right at the end doesn’t really work, especially when the questions and not the answers are highlighted.  There is almost too much detail crammed into the pages and there’s quite a lot of policy jargon deployed.  I’m not sure the ordinary punter will understand a lot of what is being promised from the JESSICA fund and the like.  While the burd thinks John Swinney deserves more praise for his budgetary skills and innovative approach to the country’s fiscal management, I doubt it should sit so far upfront in the scheme of things.  This is the kind of back-end stuff that sadly, most voters don’t want or need to know about.

And splitting the commitments on jobs, skills, industry, environment, transport and communities could either be considered neatly bookending the manifesto with the SNP’s key focus of growing a sustainable future economy or just seem slightly odd.  In any event, rather than issues and things being talked about, the burd always thinks a focus on people – what is offered for children, young people, parents, people in work, people who can’t work. pensioners etc – works better.  But the SNP isn’t the only party to take the two-dimensional, linear approach to policy commitments so it must just be me….

Overall, it’s not a bad piece of work that is likely to be well received.  And that’s five out of six manifestos delivered with only the Scottish Greens to come.  Next week, I’ll do a more substantive comparison across all six parties (I’m including the SSP for once) on some key issues that matter to the burd, issues which probably won’t have garnered many headlines.  Don’t go bursting anything vital in excited anticipation now….