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Holyrood: Your Manifesto Handbook

Scottish National Party Manifesto Analysis

The Scottish Parliamentary Election will take place on the 6th of May 2021. The Scottish National Party (SNP), led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, will be looking to be re-elected for another term in Scottish Parliament. There are 129 seats in Scottish Parliament, so 65 seats are required to form a majority government.

The voting age in Scotland was reduced to 16 or 17 in 2013. Since this is a Scottish-only election, anyone aged 16 and 17 residing in Scotland can vote in this election. The 2016 election saw 80,000 16 and 17-year-olds register to vote. Hopefully this election will see an even bigger turnout of young people in Scotland.

The SNP is a Scottish nationalist and social-democratic party that supports and campaigns for independence from the UK and seeks to obtain membership of the EU. So here is a summary of their main policies affecting the country and young Scots on independence, the economy, health, education, justice and equality and the environment.


  • Should be an independence referendum once the immediate Covid crisis has passed

The SNP have pledged to have a post-pandemic independence referendum if re-elected. They have already published a draft bill that if brought into force would legally allow Scotland to have a referendum. However, the decision ultimately lies with the UK government, and they can block the request. Therefore, the SNP believe if they can get a majority government, there will be a strong democratic obligation for the UK government to approve an independence referendum.


  • Freeze income tax and bands

  • Pilot a 4-day-week

  • Fund the Young Person’s Guarantee of a university, college, apprenticeship, training place or job for every young person who wants it

  • Invest an additional £500m over the next parliament to support new jobs and reskill people for the jobs of the future

  • Invest £100m in Green Jobs

  • Build 100,000 new homes by 2032 and keep 70% of them for social rent

  • Remove council tax for under 22s

  • Extend free bus travel to everyone under 22

The exploration of a 4-day-week includes a £10m fund to support businesses that take up the scheme to test its effects. Income tax rates will remain the same for the parliamentary term.

The Young Person’s Guarantee will ensure that every young person aged between 16 and 24 in Scotland has the opportunity, based on their own personal circumstances and ambitions, to go to university or college, get a place on an apprenticeship, training or work experience programme, secure a job or participate in a formal volunteering programme. Young people under 22 may also benefit from council tax abolition and free bus travel.

The National Transition Training Fund will support workers whose jobs are at risk and provide retraining opportunities for high tech, high skilled jobs and the provision of green skills to support Scotland’s transition to net zero. As part of this, the SNP will take action to tackle inequality, supporting those who have been disproportionately impacted by Covid; such as women, people from minority ethnic communities and disabled people.


  • Increase NHS frontline spending by over £2.5bn

  • Create a National Care Service

  • Implement a fair, negotiated pay rise for Scotland’s NHS Agenda for Change staff, offering a 4% increase on average, with the lowest paid staff set to benefit by a minimum of £1000 a year

  • Invest £250m over the next five years to tackle the drugs death emergency

  • Increase the direct investment into mental health services by at least 25% and ensure by the end of the parliament that 10% of the frontline NHS budget will be invested in mental health

There will be a NHS Recovery Plan, backed by a 20% increase in investment in frontline health services. They say this will deliver an above inflation increase in NHS spending over the next Parliament of at least £2.5bn. With this, to help renew the NHS, they aim to invest £10bn over the next decade to replace and refurbish health facilities across Scotland. The SNP have proposed a 4% uplift to all NHS staff in Bands 1 to 7, with a guaranteed increase of £1000 for anyone paid less than £25,000. They will also recruit at least 1500 NHS staff to deliver the elective centre programme and increase specialist capacity.

The National Care Service will oversee the delivery of care, improve standards, ensure enhanced pay and conditions for workers and provide better support for unpaid carers. It does not mean all care homes will be owned or run by the Scottish government, but the SNP hope it will improve standards, training and pay. It will also allow them to introduce a National Wage for Care staff.


  • Recruit at least 3,500 additional teachers and classroom assistants

  • Invest a further £1bn to close the school attainment gap

The SNP manifesto on education is heavily focused on child education and closing the attainment gap which has been an aim for the party for quite a while. The attainment gap is when children and young people living in deprived communities receive worse education than those from wealthier communities. They hope the £1bn investment will close the gap. To close the gap in Higher Education, they state they will ensure that by 2030, students from the 20% most deprived areas make up 20% of Higher Education entrants. The SNP will also reform student funding to make it fairer to students throughout their learner journey from 16 to 24.

Justice and Equality

  • Undertake a review of Scotland’s prosecution system to deliver fairer, faster and more effective justice

  • Promising funding of £100m to prevent violence against women

  • The SNP will incorporate four United Nations Human Rights treaties into Scots law:

  • The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  • The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

  • The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

  • The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Create a new multi-year £100m funding stream over the next three years to support frontline services and focus on prevention of violence against women and girls from school onwards. They also want to commit to furthering Human Rights protections. To do this they want to incorporate the four UN treats mentioned above. However, the Scottish government may not have the power to implement international treaties as it is usually completed by the UK government. A judgement from the Supreme Court is required to determine this issue.


  • Increase progress toward becoming a Net Zero nation and end Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045

  • Implement a Deposit Return Scheme for single use drinks containers next year to improve recycling, reduce litter and achieve climate change targets

  • Decarbonise 1m homes by 2030

  • All new homes by 2024 will only use renewable or zero-emissions heating

  • Create a greener, publicly owned railway service

  • Provide free bikes for School-aged children who could not afford them otherwise

  • Invest £500m to tackle the biodiversity crisis

  • Increase our targets for new woodland creation by 50%, from 12,000 hectares up to 18,000 hectares per year by 2025

By 2030 the SNP aim to generate 50% of Scotland’s overall energy consumption from renewable sources, and by 2050 aim to have decarbonised Scotland’s energy system almost completely. The SNP also wants to introduce a Circular Economy Bill aimed at tackling reliance on single-use plastic items and textile pollution as well as banning single-use plastic cutlery, plates, straws etc. All the while, invest in modernising infrastructure making it greener, and helping poorer families find greener solutions.

The Scottish Labour Party 2021 Manifesto Analysis: ‘National Recovery Plan’

On Thursday the 6th of May the people of Scotland will head to the polls to vote in the coming Scottish parliamentary elections. These elections will decide who will run Scotland for the next 5 years in all devolved issues such as, education, health, policing, and social welfare. This blog post will give a summary and brief analysis of the Scottish Labour Parties Manifesto titled National Recovery Plan.

The voting age in Scotland was reduced to 16 or 17 in 2013. Since this is a Scottish-only election, anyone aged 16 and 17 residing in Scotland can vote in this election. The 2016 election saw 80,000 16 and 17-year-olds register to vote. Hopefully this election will see an even bigger turnout of young people in Scotland.

The Scottish Labour Party is a branch of the wider UK Labour party but represents Scotland in local and Scottish elections. The leader of the Scottish Labour Party Anas Sarwar is standing in the election to become Scotland’s First Minister.


The economy is a key focus of the Scottish labour’s manifesto. They wish to help rebuild a Scottish economy that works for all of Scotland and can produce better job security and employment protection. They believe that the pandemic has highlighted the inadequate disposability of zero-hour contracts and the gig economy which left many without an income. They are striving for an economy which can create jobs or training for all in a sustainable way which promotes job protection. Scotish Labour also wish to ensure that young people have guaranteed access to job schemes in Scotland. More widely the manifesto also supports businesses in Scotland with promised investment into transportation, internet infrastructure and investment into the workforce.

  • Under 25’s without work or that have a disability will be guaranteed a job within the Scottish public sector, working to support Scotland’s recovery with a wage paid for an average of six months by the Scottish Government.

  • Ensure no publicly procured contract uses zero-hours contracts

  • Reduce business rates on non-grocery bricks and mortar shops, and set up a taskforce to fully examine how business rates need to change

  • Establish a Business Restart Fund and Business Transition Fund to continue to support businesses facing financial hardship as a result of restrictions


In their manifesto the Scottish Labour Party continue to be clear that they will not support a second independence referendum over the next sitting of parliament. Instead they believe that the nation should be focused on recovery and unity after the coronavirus pandemic. However, they do continue to support further devolution in Scotland.

  • Labour will not support a second independence referendum in the next five years, while the country is focused on recovery from Covid-19

  • Renegotiate the Fiscal Framework

  • Support further devolution of powers to Holyrood including borrowing and employment rights


Moving past the pandemic, Scottish Labour believes it will bring a good opportunity to address the problems with the current education system in Scotland. Labour believe that the past SNP governments have neglected education, they instead wish to bring an educational recovery to Scotland pushing Scottish schools into the top of the UKs rankings. Regarding Universities and colleges, they wish to reinvest in the Scottish higher education system ensuring that more scots have greater access to higher education and training. This will give greater opportunities for young people in Scotland while also supporting the creation of skills for a post pandemic economy.

  • Provide a dedicated personal comeback plan for every young person, based on an individual assessment, and provide personal tutoring

  • Enable young people to resit exams and support them to do that with a free place at college to take National Qualifications

  • Prioritise vaccinations for teaching and school staff

  • Provide extra digital training for staff and a digital device for every pupil, and give targeted support to households without broadband

  • Implement a minimum student income

  • Give every young person free access to sport, transport, outdoor activities and culture this summer, and ring-fence resources for school trips to outdoor activity centres over the next two years

Health and Social care

The Pandemics has put a great amount of pressure on the Scottish national health service. In recognition of this Scottish Labour wish to make significant changes to the help system which they argue will better equip NHS Scotland for the future health needs of Scotland. A key part of this is addressing the current lack of funding and resources for tackling mental health issues which Labour believe has been left unaddressed for too long.

  • Find missing cancer diagnoses with a catch-up initiative across screening programmes to clear the backlog of appointments by the end of 2021/22

  • Establish Rapid Diagnostic Centres so patients can have a diagnosis within two weeks

  • Improve access to mental health support with a new referral and triage service and ensure GPs have dedicated mental health workers

  • Increase the mental health budget to 11% of the NHS budget, to match spending in England and Wales, and establish dedicated mental health A&Es in every health board area

  • Set up baby clubs to support mums of babies born during the pandemic and offer an extra health visitor visit at 18 months

  • Deliver a national care service

Crime and Justice

Scottish Labour propose a strengthening of local policing, reformation of the prison system and give greater access to justice for all. They recognise and wish to promote policing’s connection with local communities as well as minority groups, so all people feel safe when coming forward as a victim of crime. They also wish to address the challenges in the justice system left in the wake of the coronavirus. With a huge backlog of cases waiting for court dates Scottish Labour wish to modernise the legal system investing in digitalisation and skills which can help address the backlog and make the justice system more efficient in the long run.

  • Restore connections between the police force and local communities

  • Invest in specialist staff to rebalance the workforce and increase the number of officers in local divisions by at least 500 to reverse cuts to local policing

  • Invest in digitisation of the courts system, mitigating barriers caused by digital inequalities and dealing with the backlog of 34,000 cases

  • Improve access to justice by reforming legal aid, roll out specialist domestic abuse courts and introduce a specialist sexual offences court

The Environment

Beyond the pandemic Scottish Labour have recognised the climate crisis as a major challenge Scotland faces in the future and right now. The Scottish Labour Party wish to fully prepare Scotland for a green economy and society. They wish to support a transition through creation of green jobs and skills, provide funding support for companies transitioning to the green economy and make Scottish public transport carbon neutral. Their policies are limited to some extent by wider government policies however they strive to reach the net zero target by 2045 and spark a green revolution in Scotland which can be a global leader in economic transition.

  • Lead a just transition to net zero

  • Give interest-free government loans to help more low- and middle-income households buy electric cars over the next two years and accelerate the rollout of electric charging points

  • Decarbonise Scotland's railways within 15 years, focusing on electrification, and seek to make train journeys between Scotland's cities faster than going by car

The Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party Manifesto: ‘Rebuild Scotland’

On the 6th of May 2021, the people of Scotland will vote to decide who they want to elect to the Scottish Parliament. There are 129 seats in Scottish Parliament, so 65 seats are required to form a majority government. This will be the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament since 1999.

The Scottish Conservatives, officially the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party, is currently the second largest party in the Scottish Parliament. Their leader is Douglas Ross.

This manifesto analysis will look at the party’s key policies and how they impact young people. This summary will look the following policy areas: economy, health, education, crime and justice, environment and constitutional matters.


· Introduce a 10-working day national standard for all grant applications

· Simplify the interface for businesses to access government support

· Look to offer at least 25% rates relief to businesses in 2022-23

· Introduce a right to retrain account for every single Scottish adult, containing £500 to be spent on training every year

· Rapid retraining courses – short, sharp courses tailored to employment opportunities

· Deliver unlimited apprenticeship opportunities

· Connect every single home and business property in Scotland to full fibre broadband by 2027

· The UK governments transformative North Sea Transition Deal will invest up to £16b to reduce emissions and secure 40,000 jobs

· Scrap parking charges on publicly owned car parks to encourage more people to support their local high streets

· Deliver 60,000 new affordable homes

o 40,000 of these in the social rented sector

· Permanently increase the threshold for paying Land and Buildings Transaction Tax to £250,000

· Create at least 200,000 jobs by investing to improve roads, railways and broadband infrastructure

The Scottish Conservatives manifesto is based on the idea of rebuilding Scotland. They argue that economic recovery is key to this rebuild. They oppose a second independence referendum, arguing that this would distract from the real issue which is getting Scotland back on its feet after the pandemic. The economy is a vital part of this recovery.

Their number one priority is to tackle unemployment. The pandemic has had a major impact on employment with the Scottish Fiscal Commission estimating that the economy will not recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, with unemployment expected to almost double by the end of 2021. To tackle this the Conservatives, aim to support local businesses by offering tax relief and making it easier to access government assistance. Furthermore, they want to give Scottish people the ability to retrain to find jobs. For young people they also want to guarantee unlimited apprenticeship opportunities by giving businesses the funding to take on more apprentices.

The Conservatives aim to create 200,000 new jobs through their infrastructure projects. They want to build new homes, expand broadband access, improve roads as well as railways.


· Increase the annual funding of at least £2 billion by 2025-26

· Investing at least 11% of the overall budget into GPs by end of next parliament

· Double SportScotland’s budget to fund grassroots and elite sport

· Increase medical school training in line with future need, prioritising people who live in Scotland

· Increase mental health funding by 10% of the frontline health budget

· Improving access to community leisure facilities

The pandemic has had a major impact on the NHS with many operations being postponed. The Conservatives aim to increase the funding for the NHS so that it better equipped to deal with this backlog. They also want to encourage a healthy diet & exercise in order to improve public health. They aim to do this by encouraging physical activity as well as improving access to sporting facilities as well as funding grassroot sports and elite sports.

Furthermore, they want to increase the budget to tackle the mental health crisis that has only worsened throughout the pandemic. They want to introduce mental health leads with links to NHS mental health teams in every school as well as promoting community mental health services making sure everyone has access to the help and support, they need.


· 3,000 more teachers

· A dedicated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) teacher in every primary school

· Everyone will be able to take at least seven subjects in S4

· Multi-year commitment to allocate £1b of attainment funding

· Free school breakfasts and lunches

· Invest £120 million in two-year catch-up premium

· Set up a £35 million national tutoring programme

· Support universities to maintain their world-leading reputation

· National student mental health action plan

· Oppose cancellation of exams

· Rural teachers fund to attract teachers to work in rural areas

The Conservatives believe that education is another area that has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. As part of their rebuild plan they want to hire more teachers and more tutors to make sure no student is left behind. They want to make sure everyone has access to a high-quality education and so they want to create a Rural Teacher Fund to attract teachers to work in rural areas.

They oppose the cancellation of exams on the ground that exams are the best way to fairly assess the achievements of pupils.

Crime & Justice

· Introduce a Local Policing Act

· Doubling the maximum sentence for assaulting emergency workers

· End automatic early release

· Introduce a Victims Law

· Improve the rehabilitation provided within prisons

· Protection of Free Speech Bill to repeal the Hate Crime Act

· National campaign, focused on schools, to challenge attitudes towards sexual harassment

The Conservatives want to introduce a Local Policing Act to ensure that there is a strong police presence in each community. They also want to introduce a Victims Law which would include a range of measures to give victims of crimes the justice they deserve. This Bill would among other things scrap the Not Proven verdict. Currently in Scotland there are three possible verdicts: guilty, not guilty and not proven. The implications of a not proven verdict are exactly the same as a not guilty verdict in the sense that the accused is viewed as innocent in the eyes of the law.

The Conservatives also want to repeal the Hate Crime Act and replace it with a Free Speech Bill. This bill would make sure genuine hate crimes are punished while protecting freedom of expression. They argue that the Hate Crime Act that was introduced by the SNP is too far reaching and diminishes freedom of expression.


· Establish a £25 million Cleaner Seas Fund to take harmful products including plastics out of the seas

· End peat extraction and aim to restore peatland to 20,000 hectares by 2024-25

· Animal Welfare Bill

o Banning the use of electric shock collars

o Amend the Dangerous Dog Act to stop dogs being put down simply for their breed

· Create Scotland third national park in Galloway

· Bring forward a Circular Economy Bill

The manifesto talks about how the Conservatives aim to tackle climate change and strengthen environmental and animal welfare protection. They see the environment as one of Scotland key assets and want to protect and nurture it. They also mention how important nature has been throughout the pandemic as it is essential for mental and physical wellbeing. Through their Cleaner Seas Fund they aim to protect the seas. They also want to create a third national park in Galloway and consider other proposals for further parks.

Constitutional Matters

· Oppose a referendum on Scottish Independence

· Repeal the Referendum Act to remove the threat of another independence referendum being rushed through

· Introduce Mackay’s Law, allowing the public to recall MSPS who have broken the law or grossly undermined the trust of the people

· Revoke prisoners right to vote

· Support a freeze in MSP and ministerial pay for the next five years

The Conservatives oppose a second independence referendum. The focus should be on rebuilding Scotland after the pandemic not starting what they call a ‘political crisis’. They believe that a second referendum would only distract from the real issues such as the economy and public services. Furthermore, it would divide the country, communities and families.

They also want to improve the accountability of MSPs and the government as a whole. They want to have a commission look at ways in which the parliament can be improved so that the government can be better held to account.

Jonas Volkwein, Head of Policy & News Analysis, Matthew Esam and Sam Ward, Policy and News Analysis Associates

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