Recent Ipsos Mori polling which showed that the top four priorities of Scottish voters are:
- Health: Guarantee that for the next five years spending on the NHS in Scotland will be increased by at least the same rate as spending on health in England;
- Education: Allow all students from Scotland to attend Scottish universities for free;
- Environment: Subsidise the cost of developing new sources of energy that are less harmful to the environment
- Tax: Increase the top rate of income tax for those earning more than £150,000 a year from 45p to 50p.
In this series of blogs we’re going go look at what the main parties have to say on these subjects. We’re starting with UKIP who’ve promised to ‘Shake up Holyrood’.
UKIP are committing to keeping the NHS free at the point of delivery for UK citizens. The implication being that it will not be free at the point of delivery for non-UK citizens, which while not stated explicitly, can be easily inferred from the ensuing criticisms of the impact of immigration and the EU on the NHS.
There’s a good section on mental health where they call for parity between this and physical health. This is an issue in the next parliament that we should see a degree of consensus on.
The most interesting part on health we thought was the section on PFI deals where UKIP have pledged to “negotiate an early end to these private sector cash cows and return the financing of the health sector to government where it belongs.” They’re clearly taking aim at Labour and must feel there’s an attack line in there they can take advantage of.
On this subject UKIP are making all the right noises on creating a level playing field and a balance between educational institutes. There’s also a pledge to open grammar and technical schools in Scotland which we doubt will get too far.
However, related to the specific point raised in the Ipsos polling, UKIP state that the current funding system is unfair to Scottish students who they believe are being overlooked in favour of EU students who also do not have to pay fees. This is a policy they would change but is predicated on the UK leaving the EU as that’s the only way it will happen. Jam tomorrow.
UKIP aren’t known for their support for renewables and so it, kind of, continues. They’re committed to withdrawing subsidy for onshore wind but maintaining support for hydro. This all falls under the auspices of affordability and protecting the bill payer.
There is some, predictable, railing against the EU on climate change policies which they argue are making Scottish manufacturers pay the price for environmental legislation.
All things considered, this is a pretty inoffensive section unless your a huge supporter of onshore wind and in that case you probably wouldn’t be leaving throughout UKIP’s manifesto anyway.
A guiding principle is outlined. UKIP support “lower taxes and oppose any suggestions that would result in income tax being higher than the rest of the UK.” Pretty straightforward and puts them alongside the Conservatives in the Scottish tax debate.
But they go further still and set out an aspiration for three income tax bandings: a basic rate of 20%, intermediate rate of 30% and top rate of 40%. Flatter and lower is there motto.
But it’s not really in keeping with the Ipsos research. Scottish voters seem to want the most well off to pay more tax on their earnings. To keep in step with public opinion UKIP would have to introduce another tax band above their proposed levels. Something which we think is unlikely to happen.
All things considered the contents of UKIP’s manifesto aren’t the most radical nor would anyone find them the most offensive. They’re a mainstream party nowadays and their policies reflect that. They also reflect a desire to attract votes from left and right. For example there’s opposition to the ‘stealth’ privatisation of Scottish Water by the SNP on the one hand but their libertarian streak is seen in the Liberty section of the manifesto which opposes the Named Person legislation and the creation of a super ID base giving countless public bodies access to the NHS central register.
There’s policies which would grab attention and gain support in here but the chances of getting them into public consciousness is slim.