Thursday, 17 March 2011

Give us the chance....

In 2007 the SNP's pitch was "give us a chance to show that we can govern properly...".

The question is: having been given the chance, have they taken it or have they blown it?

Alex Salmond would claim that they have taken the chance with both hands. The SNP decided to take on the challenge of minority government. They would, they pledgd, be different from other parties in government. They would deliver, and in delivering, they would show that they could be entrusted with power, and indpendence could and would bring a better Scotland.

Have they delivered? Well, they have and they haven't. And where they haven't they have they have made the excuse that they're only a minority, and the other parties have blocked their actions...stymied their policies.

So how do we judge? The obvious place to start is the 2007 campaign and Manifesto. What was the campaign fought on? What were they key pledges that the SNP made to get elected?

There were a number of major issues that the nats gathered votes on. One was the unpopularity of the Labour/LibDem coalition that preceded them. Another was the unpopularity of Labour in London and the prevalent anti-Iraq war sentiment.

The policies that dominated the campaign (at least the policies that I remember) were the NHS and the unpopularity of the Kerr/Kerr changes (which they sold as saving local A&Es and other local hospitals), the abolition of Student Debt, the abolition of "the hated Council Tax", the replacement of "the hated PPP" with a Scottish Futures Trust, class size policy, the promise of 1000 "new" police on the street and the promise to match Labour's school building policy "brick for brick".

On the NHS the SNP kept its promise and abandoned the Kerr/Kerr changes. Whether that was wise is not known, but it was delivery and Nicola Sturgeon has improved her reputation. And the 1000 police looks as if it will be delivered, although the peak numbers will quickly shrink in the next year, so it will bea promise met, but not for long.

But of all the other big promises, they have not delivered on most. They didn't abolish student debt as it turned out that they hadn't done the sums and it was far too expensive. They froze the Council Tax, but didn't abolish it, because their replacement policy of a Local Income Tax was not thought out properly and was never credible. They didn't replace PPP because their replacement policy of  a Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) was never properly thought out and was never credible. The class size policy was not delivered because it was never properly thought out and not credible. And the promise to match Labour's school bulding programme "brick for brick" was never met because they wouldn't use PPP and the SFT (see above) was never a credible replacement.

What all of this shows is that the SNP gained protest votes from the unpopularity of its opponents. And also from unpopular policies which it promised to replace, but largely did not. These were, by and large, "policies" which it used to get votes, but which were never going to work, because they were no more than a line in the Manifesto: "You don't like PPP? Neither do we. You want a Scottish Futures Trust? All right, we've got one here, on the back of this fag packet. Sure, it'll work... trust me, I'm a politician...".

There is one way that I can see to make some sort of judgement. The SNP has a page on its website showing all of its achievenements, and Labour has a page detailing what it calls the SNP's "100 broken promises.

Compare and contrast what the SNP claims as achievements with what Labour claims as broken promises. The decision is yours: do the achievements outweigh the broken promises? Did the SNP take its chance to show it could govern....?

I know what I think, but the lists give you the chance to make up your own mind....


  1. Did the SNP drag us into an illegal and immoral war in the middle East?

    Did the SNP lie about the North sea oil reserves?

    Did the SNP opt for a 'light touch' at the FSA resulting in a knighthood for Fred Goodwin and near global meltdown for capitalism?

    Did the SNP claim to have ended the cycle of Boom & Bust?

    Those sorts of questions?

  2. Jim
    It's interesting that you seldom want to address the subject.

    I have written what I think is a thoughtful post on the performance of the SNP in government, I have pposted their list and their opponents list of achievements and failures, and you want to raise four different points but, yet again, not address the post.

    Come on.

  3. Sorry Braveheart, I thought you wanted to benchmark the SNP government's performance with the alternative. I felt that you'd missed some rather important issues, but understand why as a Labour supporter you'd prefer them to be airbrushed from recent history to concentrate on the little things

    Personally, I felt that Labour were rather quick off the mark with the 'broken promises' thing - being sympathetic to the plight of a minority government struggling to get their manifesto through parliament I think they've made rather a decent fist of it.

    Labour starting calling everything a 'broken promise' pretty much from day one - whilst I think most reasonable people would have recognised them as manifesto pledges not yet delivered.

    By confusing things not yet delivered or unable to be delivered due to parliamentary numbers with actual broken promises (and I think there are plenty of places where the SNP have broken manifesto pledges) you (Labour) dilute the effect.

    Still, at least they've not dragged us into an illegal and bloody conflict which can not be won and for which no end game was planned.


    PS You shouldn't confuse me as any sort of standard bearer for the SNP. I'm simply here (blogging) as a place to have my voice heard. Hopefully our political masters will one day decide that my views are close enough to what they perceive to be a large enough segment of society to pay some heed to them.

  4. Jim
    You misunderstand.

    I have no problem engaging in discussions of any general or particular political point (assuming it's reasonable and reasonably made), but I like to stick to the point and not be dragged all over the place.

    The point of my post is the SNP's claim that given the chance they could deliver and prove that "independence" is manageable, and that they would also deliver specific policies that they had gathered (mainly protest) votes on.

    That's what I want to discuss. If I respond to you on (say) Iraq, we'll be off on a completely different tack.

    It's just like the 330 fictional schools the SNP's claims to hahve built. When I raised that, you avoided the point as well.

    All the other stuff about "illegal" wars or North Sea oil is for another post(s) which I haven't written. Why don't you write them if you want to discuss those subjects? I'll respond if I have anything to say on the subject youraise.

  5. Ok, seeing as you've asked so nicely.

    I find the SNP page positive whilst I find the Labour page very negative.

    Despite the fact that there are very many legitimate criticisms of government performance there are too many weak criticisms which makes it look like a rather desperate attempt to justify the '100 broken promises' banner headline.

    Many of the 'broken promises' may be directly attributable to Labour opposition to the idea in the first place and minority government being a game of numbers - therefore Labour's position is a bit absurd. Oppose something, then criticise for it not being done!


  6. Jim
    a list of "achievements" as oposed to "100 brokeb promises", is bound to look more positive.

    I'm asking for judgement.

    What do you think of the really obvious broken promises?

    Those policies such as abolishing student debt, where the promise had obviously been made to harvest votes, but the work had never been done to cost the promise?

    So that, when the SNP actually did a wee bit of research, they discovered it would cost £billions and droped it like a hot potato?

    They then substitute abolishing the Graduate Endowment which is nothing like the same benefit to anything like the same number of voters (and claim that as an achievement!!!).

    You can't blame Labour for that. It's a clear case of promising the Earth to get votes and not really caring whether the policy is deliverable.

    Do you think that's "positive"?

  7. Braveheart

    What do you want? There are points in which Labour have a legitimate greivance and there are points where Labour are being petty & stupid. I'd rather they focused on the decent points than so desperately chased the banner headline... I'm sure in the long run it's a flawed policy, as it doesn't take very much to start discrediting a lot of those claims.

    The SNP planned to abolish student debt - ok, so that didn't happen, but let's be grateful that it wasn't Labour in power when they were planning a graduate endowment tax. Are the students better off under SNP? Yes!

    On the other hand Labour claimed a council tax freeze wasn't possible - now, 4 years later and in the run up to an election it's Labour policy.

    There is a lot to commend this SNP gvernment for. Meanwhile Iain Gray fails to convince, Richard Baker is a running joke (even in Labour circles I'm led to believe) and to put Jackie Baillie in charge of health must be one of the greatest insults ever.

    At a national level I don't believe that many Labourites are actually convinced by young Milliband. And yet in Scotland, we're more than likely to have a large Labour showing, possibly even a majority. The mind boggles as to what you might achieve if there was any actual talent there. Copying some of the more progressive SNP ideas is a decent start though - and for that we all should be grateful for what the SNP have achieved.


  8. Lol - the SNP has delivered well enough for Labour to pinch most of our policies.

  9. Re the "100 broken promises" page. You must know it is a piece of nonsense yourself. As I recall Labour tweeted these one by one to mark 100 days to polling day. So it's not so much a list of broken promises as just a press stunt. You can just imagine them sitting around saying ok we are at 78, just another 22 to find guys. That is why the quality control is pretty variable. The overall effect is just to undermine the case because some of them are so obviously rubbish.

  10. Braveheart,

    I'm just not sure what you want here. The SNP would like to abolish student debt but couldn't.

    Had Labour had their way, rather than supporting tertiary education, students would have had a Graduate endowment foisted upon them.

    Have students been better off under the SNP?
    Patently, the answer is yes!

    IMO the opposition parties who forced through the Edinburgh tram project against the SNP's wishes have a damned cheek to be complaining about where money might have been better spent in any case.

    What do I think of the really obvious 'broken promises' though ?

    I think that mostly they're really obviously manifesto pledges which haven't been delivered in this parliamentary term and if you can show me a party which has delivered 100% of it's manifesto pledges whilst running a minority government I'll be most impressed.

    On some pledges though I'm very disappointed. I'm not that impressed that the primary weans aren't getting more exercise - back in my day it was my Primary teacher who took us to the school hall to play games, I'm not sure why that's no longer possible (perhaps an issue for the NUT to address - maybe Labour could have a word with them?)

    Then again, on the subject of education, I'm not that impressed that whilst teacher numbers have been getting cut, Glasgow city council were doling out a redundancy package of £278k to the wife of a Labour MP either.

    If only Labour could have a go at the rather large beam in their own eyes before worrying about the SNP's mote, they might be more appealing to whichever electoral category it is that I fall under.


  11. I was reading this article in the Herald about Cameron's speech:

    At the end of it they have this:

    In response, Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour Leader, declared: “David Cameron is washing his hands of responsibility. We’ve seen 2000 jobs go in Scotland in the last month and youth unemployment is in crisis.”

    “If the Tories are to have any credibility in Scotland, David Cameron should announce the immediate introduction of a fuel duty regulator as well as scrapping their planned fuel duty rise.

    “The Treasury is benefiting from a multi-billion oil revenue bonus from Scotland and we deserve justice for the economy, families and businesses.”

    At first I thought Good Lord Iain Gray really IS stealing the SNP's colours but on reflection I suspect the last two paras are actually SNP quotes and it's an error that they forgot to attribute the quote.

    What do you think? Printer's error (if you can have online printers)? Gave me a laugh anyway.

  12. Indy,you say the 100 broken promises is just a press stunt.

    But the statement from the SNP that they have built 330 schools (when they have built none) is a straightforward lie designed to claim credit for something they have not done.

    And the promise to abolish student debt was another straightforward lie designed to get votes from those who believed the lie.

    Why is it reprehensible for one party to launch what you call a "press stunt" exposing lies, but ok for another party to tell the lies in the first place?

    Why would you prefer the latter to the former?

  13. If Ian Gray did say that it would you say? interesting...

  14. @jim "I think that mostly they're really obviously manifesto pledges which haven't been delivered in this parliamentary term and if you can show me a party which has delivered 100% of it's manifesto pledges whilst running a minority government I'll be most impressed."

    Jim, no party delivers 100% of its manifesto pledges. But they try to deliver their most prominent pledges. If you have a top half-dozen pledges and you fail to deliver 5 of them that's real failure.

    If the reason you fail to deliver is that you never had a thought out policy or the means to deliver it in the first place, it was just an empty promise, that's even worse.

    Before you say "minority government" or "Labour opposed", it is not he fault of the oppositon that SFT doesn't exist, no schools were built, no LIT exists, PPP has not been replaced, student debt was not abolished...

    All of these were key SNP promises and it turns out that none of them ever stood a chance of being implemented. It wasn't that the SNP thought it had a plan for e.g. an SFT. It put it in the manifesto without any idea as to how it would work in practice. SAme with the LIT....

    In any case, if it is all right for the SNP to fail to deliver its main policies, why is it not ok if Labour fails to deliver?

    What's the difference?

  15. I think there are a couple of things you could pull the SNP up on -but you guys buried them in 100 broken promises which were mainly rubbish.

    And you have turned it into a mantra. It's like the boy who cried wolf. You have accused the SNP of breaking promises so many times that nobody listens any more.