Manifesto aims to persuade voters SNP is leading anti-Tory force in Scottish politics.
Nicola Sturgeon will say that Boris Johnson is dangerous and unfit for office as she launches the Scottish National party’s election manifesto. The SNP leader and first minister will also reject the prime minister’s claims that voting Conservative will get Brexit done by 31 January next year. Brexit is nowhere near being done, she will say. Sturgeon hopes to cement her claim to voters that the SNP is the most effective anti-Tory force in Scottish politics, winning over Labour voters and those who backed remain in the 2016 EU referendum. The polls put the SNP at about 40% in Scotland, putting the party on course to increase the number of Westminster seats it holds from 35 at the last election, chiefly at the expense of Labour.
The reality of Westminster control over Scotland is this: a rightwing Tory government Scotland didn’t vote for and a prime minister in Boris Johnson who is dangerous and unfit for office, Sturgeon is expected to say.
It means Tory cuts to the Scottish budget, the NHS under threat from a Tory-Trump trade deal, a power grab on the Scottish parliament, children being forced into poverty and a disastrous Brexit deal that will hit jobs, living standards and workers’ rights. But there is worse to come – unless Boris Johnson is stopped this will just be the start. Brexit is nowhere near being done. The Tories have barely got going – they haven’t even started trade talks.
Because of Johnson’s hard line position, there is every chance the UK will leave without a trade deal next year. That would be a catastrophe for jobs.
The Tories, placed at 28% in a Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times last weekend, deny Holyrood’s budget will be cut and dispute Sturgeon’s claim they plan wholesale privatisation of the NHS in England. The Scottish Tory manifesto says Johnson’s NHS funding plans for England will increase Scotland’s funding from the Treasury by £3.3bn by 2023. It says Scotland will get a further £1.4bn thanks to a £14bn increase in school funding in England, plus a share in Johnson’s “shared prosperity fund”, designed to replace EU structural funds post-Brexit. Sturgeon will also claim the SNP will put increased NHS funding in England and Wales at the heart of her party’s post-election negotiations with Labour if there is a hung parliament. She wants to increase NHS spending in England and Wales by £136 a head, bringing it to Scottish levels. She said that would involve an extra spend of £35bn by 2023-24 but the SNP did not answer questions on Tuesday night about how that figure was calculated. Labour and the Tories argue they already have very ambitious NHS funding proposals. The Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates that the Tories’ existing plans would increase NHS funding by £23.5bn in real terms, taking inflation into account, to £140bn in 2023-24. The IFS says that is equivalent to £34bn in cash terms, without taking inflation into account. The IFS says Labour’s spending plans would involve even larger increases in NHS funding, taking it to £143bn by 2023-24. That is equivalent to a £26.7bn increase in real terms, compared with spending in 2019-19, taking inflation into account. NHS budgets would grow in England by 3.8% a year, the IFS said.