Sturgeon Shows Why SNP Most Trusted Party
A fairly recent development in Scottish political discourse is the live televised leaders’ debates. During General Elections, Scottish Parliament Elections and the Independence Referendum, millions tuned in to help better understand the issues facing the country, what the various political parties stand for and how their decisions might affect them.
Whilst it must be said that some of these debates produce more heat than light, last week’s STV Scotland Debates programme was a genuine eye opener and will certainly have assisted viewers in forming an opinion on how they will vote.
Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie’s contribution merely served to show that voters are still unwilling to trust his party following their disastrous decision to prop up David Cameron’s government for five unhappy years and viewers were reminded the Lib Dems colossal betrayal of students across the UK in relation to tuition fees.
Regarding students, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson outlined her plan to end free university tuition (from which she benefited) imposing a graduate tax of £6,000 on every student. On top of this, Ms Davidson thrashed out against free prescriptions and advocated re-introducing charges of £8.40. Remarkably, the Conservative leader maintains she represents the only party that doesn’t want to put up taxes. However, in reality, she does want to raise more revenue, but simply via the sick and those who wish to reach their full learning potential.
Meltdown of the evening award undoubtedly belonged to Labour’s Kezia Dugdale who, under cross-examination, was forced to admit that her planned tax increase would impact on pensioners and the lowest earners in the country. Furthermore, her, much-vaunted, tax rebate scheme (supposedly designed to offset the pain inflicted on the low paid) was exposed as a complete sham which she had now unceremoniously dropped. Ms Dugdale also admitted it was “not inconceivable” she would back Scottish Independence if there was a second referendum.
Patrick Harvie, Scottish Green Party leader talks with passion but showcased some flagship Green policies which may actually do more harm than good. For example, raising the top rate of income tax to 60% (far above the UK rate of 45%) would almost certainly see a proportion of our highest earners, who tend to be mobile unlike most people, simply choose to live elsewhere. The Scottish Government’s Economic advisors predict that if even 7% of top earners leave, we would see a £30 million annual reduction in tax receipts, needed to fund the NHS, schools etc. They may also move their businesses too!
Pundits and political journalists agreed that Nicola Sturgeon gave the strongest performance on the night, particularly on her clear plan for an NHS fit for the future. The First Minister demolished Ms Davidson’s argument over free prescriptions, explaining that medication is not a luxury, but a necessity, particularly for managing long term conditions. Ms Sturgeon also laid out plans to increase NHS funding every year over the next parliament. A £50 million commitment to state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment and an extra 100 radiotherapy specialists will boost cancer survival rates. In addition, £150 million will be invested in mental health services and £200 million earmarked to create a new network of elective treatment centres to carry out procedures like hip, knees and cataract operations; ensuring more older people retain personal independence longer.
In contrast to the array of half-baked and ineffective policies set out by opposition leaders, Nicola Sturgeon demonstrated why the SNP Government is the most trusted in the entire European Union, offering a clear view of the policy choices she would make to ensure Scotland meets the challenges we face, whilst continuing to offer opportunities and services to people who live here.