Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 17 April 2005

Manifestos launched by LibDems, SNP, UKIP and Veritas

I wasn't able to blog on the day the Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto. No sooner had they revealed their proposals, than the Scottish National Party, then the United Kingdom Independence Party and then Veritas revealed to an enthralled public their own plans for us, post-5th May 2005, should they have unprecedented electoral success. Net result? I got behind in putting up links to the manifestos here (aided and abetted by the fact that when I looked on their website at the time the LibDems hadn't yet put up their manifesto for Scotland, only that for the rest of the country - now done).

Anyway, belatedly, here goes:

Liberal Democrat Party
Charles Kennedy tells us that his Party is 'the real alternative' to Labour and the Conservatives. Whether this is true, or not, we will all know for certain when the British public gives its verdict on 5th May; I suspect we will not awaken on the morning of Friday 6th May to learn that our Prime Minister is to be Mr Kennedy. Their key proposals include:
- 50% top rate tax on earnings over £100,000
- Replace council tax with local income tax
- Scrap university fees
- 21,000 extra teachers
- £100 a month pension extra for over 75s
- Free eye and dental checks
- 10,000 extra police
- 20,000 community support officers
- Lower class sizes
- Free personal care
- Scrap the Child Trust Fund
- Scrap the Child Support Agency

I described the proposals of one of the other Parties (I think you can guess which one) as 'mom and apple pie' stuff, but those folks turn out to have been a lot less ambitious than our friends the LibDems. They seem to offer ambrosia, unless you earn more than GBP38,000 as a couple - not an exceptional sum nowadays - so there will undoubtedly be just a very few people whose apparent willingness (according to some opinion polls) to stomach an increase in their tax bills will be tested at the ballot box. You can read the full LibDem manifesto for Westminster (in PDF format) here. Non-PDF versions of the manifestos for England, Scotland and Wales are on the LibDem website here - click on the relevant links for the versions you wish to know more about.

Scottish National Party
The SNP call their effort the People's Manifesto, a pretty meaningless descriptor - who else would it be for, dogs and cats? Or are they implying that others' manifestos are for an elite? How would the 'brothers' in NuLabour react to that slight, I wonder? Anyway, on, on ... the front cover of the manifesto bears the legend "If Scotland Matters To You, Make It Matter In May" - implying, one assumes, that not to vote SNP means one does not think Scotland matters. Another pretty obviously devious statement. Main proposals, apart from taking Scotland out of the United Kingdom, are to make life better for the people of Scotland, young and old. Now who can quarrel with that? Not me, that's for sure! How is it all to be paid for? One assumes by retaining all the proceeds of 'our oil and gas' in the North Sea. The SNP manifesto is available (in PDF format) here. The manifesto highlights Norway, another small country bordering the North Sea, with plenty of oil and gas and regularly described as one of the richest (as it is in the manisfesto, too). Coincidentally I read a most interesting, and I must admit to me quite surprising, article in the New York Times earlier today - link to article entitled We're Rich, You're Not. End of Story. (free registration required) - which paints a rather different picture. For me, though, I don't doubt we Scots could run our own country perfectly adequately if we decided we wanted to. However, I am quite happy to remain British, indeed I am proud to be so - that does not make me any less proud, as part of my Britishness, to be Scottish. Yes, Scotland does matter - it does not take a vote for the SNP to validate that viewpoint.

United Kingdom Independence Party
UKIP want to 'reclaim' the nation and say 'we want our country back'. A principal part of their platform is a desire to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, although UKIP insists it is not a single issue Party; principal policies include:
- Leave EU
- Set up new trade agreement
- Restricted immigration
- Pensions raised by £25 a week
- Council tax cut by half
- Raise borrowing £30bn
- More nuclear power

UKIP hopes to win its first seat at Westminster at the coming election. The manifesto (in PDF format) is available here. Needless to say, I do not support their principal aim, nor some of the others. Incidentally, though, they have specific policies for Scotland (where they are putting up 20 candidates), with which I must confess to having some sympathy - not that I should vote for them even if there were to be a candidate in my constituency.

Some people, perhaps curelly, have described UKIP as a 'one issue' Party. One could plausibly describe Veritas as a 'one person' Party. Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP has launched his Party's manifesto with a call for a halt to 'liberal fascism', whatever that is. Why is it that so many former left-wingers (Robert Kilroy-Silk [a former Labour MP], Oswald Moseley [a former Conservative, Independent then Labour MP and founder of the British Union of Fascists], Peter Hitchens to name a few) seem to become mighty peculiar in their beliefs in their later years? Not all Veritas policies are nonsense, though - for example, they are opposed to the introduction of compulsory ID cards. In any case, if you want to, you can read the Veritas manifesto (in PDF format) here.

Other minor Parties are standing at the coming election, of course. One I have noticed is the English Democrats Party which wants, amongst other things, a separate Parliament for England. Their website and manifesto are available here. It seems they are putting up 121 candidates at the coming election, although whether they stand a chance of gaining even one seat is perhaps doubtful.

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