DH cropLabour Hame Editor Duncan Hothersall compares the SNP and Scottish Labour manifestos and challenges the perception that Scots are helped by a vote against Labour.


I have lost count of the number of times I have been exhorted to fight this election on the basis of policies. I’ve also lost count of the number of times I’ve been told voting SNP will keep a Labour government “in check”, “push Labour left”, and ensure things are delivered “for Scotland”.

The SNP have – finally – launched their manifesto for the 2015 general election and we can compare it to the Scottish Labour manifesto. So let’s take a look at the concrete policies, now they are out, and see if this argument stacks up.

In each case I’ll compare Labour and the SNP, and look at the impact SNP votes might have on the policy of a Labour government.

Labour commitment SNP commitment Impact of SNP on Labour
Cut the deficit every year and reach current account surplus by end of parliament Additional borrowing every year and retain deficit past end of parliament thumbsdownMore money spent on debt interest rather than public services
Increase taxes on wealthiest in first year, meaning immediate increase in public spending Stick to Tory spending plans for first year thumbsdownBigger cuts in public services
Protect spending on health, with additional spending from Mansion Tax Will protect spending, but promises of additional spending are uncosted thumbsdownRisk to increased NHS funding
Protect spending on education and international development No commitment to protect these spending areas thumbsdownRisk of cuts in education and overseas aid
50p tax rate for highest earners Same thumbsevensNone
Ban exploitative zero-hours contracts Consult on zero-hours contracts thumbsdownNo definite action against exploiting workers
Make it illegal to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers No equivalent thumbsdownRisk of continued exploitation of migrant workers
End blacklisting and back an enquiry into it No mention thumbsdownBlacklisting goes unpunished, will happen again
Abolish loophole that allows firms to undercut permanent staff using agency workers on lower pay No mention thumbsdownMore job insecurity, wages driven lower
Mansion tax to redistribute wealth across the UK from richest to poorest Opposed – mansion tax to only apply within Scotland, raising significantly less money thumbsdownMore inequality, less money to spend on essential public services for those who most need them
Stop winter fuel payments to richest 5% of pensioners; cut ministerial pay. Opposed thumbsdownLess money to spend on public services for the poorest
New 10p starting rate of tax Same thumbsevensNone
End Marriage Tax Allowance Same thumbsevensNone
No increase on basic/high income tax, National Insurance or VAT No equivalent thumbsdownRisk of VAT rises or other stealth taxes
Tough penalties on tax evasion, close loopholes on unfair avoidance Broadly equivalent thumbsevensNone
End non-dom status to reduce tax avoidance Same thumbsevensNone
Long-term investment approach via National Infrastructure Commission No cross-UK investment plans thumbsdownFewer opportunities for the vital investment Scotland and the rest of the UK needs
Improved access to finance for co-operatives and mutuals from the British Investment Bank No equivalent thumbsdownLack of support for co-ops and mutuals to improve inclusion and best value
Tax rebates to Living Wage employers No equivalent thumbsdownFewer workers benefit from Living Wage
Minimum Wage to reach at least £8 per hour Minimum wage to reach £8.70 per hour thumbsupHigher wages for the lowest paid
End fees for employment tribunals Fees to remain thumbsdownAccess to justice denied to unfairly treated workers
Guarantee the Barnett Formula End the Barnett Formula thumbsdownCatastrophic black hole in Scotland’s finances likely to be around £30-£40bn across this parliament
Protect pensions across the UK Protect pensions in Scotland thumbsdownAlmost impossible to see how this is compatible with Full Fiscal Autonomy without massive cuts elsewhere
Energy price freeze and reform energy market No equivalent thumbsdownRisk of higher energy prices and continued failing market
Implement Smith Agreement in full Attempt to hijack Smith Agreement to shoehorn in additional demands thumbsdownRisk that the further devolution agreed by all parties is derailed
Continue to pool and share resources across the UK Full fiscal autonomy thumbsdownLess redistribution of wealth. Less money to spend on public services in Scotland. More money for England and Wales.
Constitutional convention for the whole UK No equivalent thumbsdownLack of opportunity for people across rest of UK to participate in constitutional reform
Abolish House of Lords and replace with Senate of Nations & Regions Abolish House of Lords, no replacement thumbsdownFurther erosion of the unity of the UK
Remain in the EU Same thumbsevensNone
Enable public/non-profit ownership of railways No equivalent thumbsdownRailways continue to siphon public money off into private shareholders’ pockets
Ambitious low carbon target for whole of UK Roughly equivalent, though only declared for Scotland thumbsevensNone
Triple lock against fracking Broadly equivalent opposition to fracking thumbsevensLittle difference, though local communities denied final say
Votes for 16 and 17 year olds Same thumbsevensNone
No tuition fees for university students in Scotland Same thumbsevensNone
£1,600 Future Fund for every 18 & 19 year old not in college, uni or apprenticeship No equivalent thumbsdownFewer life chances for those who need them most
Retain the BBC as a widely respected publicly funded broadcaster for the whole UK Break up the BBC to create separate Scottish version thumbsdownDuplication of spending, less quality TV.
Reverse the 2012 Health and Social Care Act Same thumbsevensNone
Build 200,000 homes a year across the UK Build 100,000 homes a year across the UK thumbsdownLack of affordable housing
LGBT Rights Envoy Similar thumbsevensNone
Respect Scotland’s democratic decision to remain part of the UK “We will always support independence” thumbsdownConstant grudge and grievance to push for independence
Free bus travel for all apprentices No equivalent thumbsdownFewer opportunities for young people to get into work
New £200m Mental Health Fund, new £200m Cancer Fund No clear equivalent thumbsdownRisk that these priority areas do not receive appropriate additional resources
Reverse cuts to HE bursaries and restore highest level for poorest students Opposed thumbsdownLess access to further and higher education for the least advantaged
Scottish Anti-Poverty Fund to make food banks history No equivalent thumbsdownLess help for those most in need
Double paternity leave & increase maternity pay No equivalent thumbsdownTougher for parents of newborns
Scottish Jobs Guarantee paid for by bankers bonus tax No equivalent thumbsdownLess opportunity for work
Restore local accountability to Scotland’s policing Continue the centralisation agenda thumbsdownPolice Scotland continues to lose public support
Fully implement Leveson Same thumbsevensNone
Strategic Defence Review in 1st year to include Trident No renewal of Trident thumbsevensGiven large Commons majority for Trident renewal, SNP anti-Trident policy unlikely to have any effect

I’m sure alert readers will highlight any errors or omissions, but by my reading of the two manifestos, the only positives an SNP vote brings is a promise of a higher minimum wage, and an admirable but almost certainly doomed-to-failure commitment to scrap Trident.

Across numerous other areas, a vote for the SNP rather than Labour will have a negative effect on public spending, health, economic growth, access to education and, fundamentally, on the core aim of Scottish Labour which is to deliver a fairer Scotland.

The argument that a strong group of SNP MPs will help Scotland is blown out of the water. The more votes for the SNP the less likely a Labour government anyway, but as can be seen from this analysis, were a Labour government to be in power reliant on SNP support, it would be disastrous for Scotland.

Scotland needs a Labour majority government in the UK.

A vote for the SNP is a vote against Scotland’s interests.


A handy booklet version PDF of this manifesto comparison can be downloaded here:
LH manifesto comparison april 2015 small