“I support the government, but there are policies I don’t like” is an often heard caveat. No government attracts uncritical support, especially one elected to govern a nation of hyper-judgmental, compulsive nit-pickers. We are quicker to criticise than praise. But the SNP have a lot of implemented policies to chose from, if you don’t like the ones they espouse.
As we approach an election in which the SNP’s opponents are doing their devious best to convince us a vote for the SNP is wasted, and both votes for the SNP is a crass misuse of democracy, I thought it only fair to reproduce their achievements since they took office.
Scotiaphobes will dismiss the lot. But there’s one thing they can’t deny: the SNP altered Scottish political life and discourse in a profound way – for the first time in 300 years we are empowered as individuals. Our voice matters. We’re heard, and not treated as a herd.
Lists are tedious; so they’re lumped into categories: you can pick an’ mix.
In the beginning
- Record funding for Scotland’s NHS, with the overall health budget at £13 billion in 2016 – over £3.3 billion more than when the SNP first took office.
- Free, high quality childcare is increased to 16 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds – up from 12.5 hours in 2007, extended to 2 year olds from low income households too.
- Employment at its highest ever level. Latest figures, 2,636,000 people in work.
- Pupils are achieving more than ever with a reformed curriculum, record exam passes and 93% of school leavers now going on to work, training or education.
- Council Tax frozen saving the average Band D household £1,550 by April 2017.
- 1.3 million older and disabled people benefit from free public transport through the National Concessionary Bus Travel Scheme – now extended to help disabled veterans.
- Target to build 30,000 affordable homes exceeded, with an investment of £1.7 billion.
- Free tuition maintained, saving students up to £27,000 compared to England.
- Jobs and businesses protected from recession by cutting business rates for almost 100,000 small and medium-sized businesses.
- 78,000 elderly benefit from access to a wide range of personal care without charge.
- Recorded crime in Scotland has reached its lowest level in 41 years.
- Free prescriptions protected, saving people with chronic conditions over £100 a year.
- Road Equivalent Tariff rolled out to all ferry routes in the Clyde and Hebrides, cutting fares by around 40%.
- 178,000 low income households helped to buy essentials such as nappies, food and cookers through our Scottish Welfare Fund since it was established in 2013.
- By keeping Scottish Water in public hands customers pay less for a better service – charges for the average household bill are £39 lower than in England and Wales.
A healthier Scotland
- The number of nurses, doctors and dentists working in Scotland’s NHS increased.
- NHS staffing is at record levels, up more than 11,200 under the current government.
- Scotland’s A&E services are the best performing in the UK.
- 95% of hospital day case and inpatients seen within 12 weeks last year.
- Healthcare kept local. A&E units saved, children’s cancer services and neurosurgery units protected, and maternity units kept open.
- Over £5 billion invested in Scotland’s health infrastructure since 2007, including the South Glasgow Hospitals and Emergency Care Centre in Aberdeen.
- Pay rises for our NHS staff delivered.
- Nursing staff up to £714 a year better off than their counterparts in England.
- Hospitals cleaner and safer. Cases of C. Diff and MRSA fall to lowest levels recorded.
- Almost £40 million invested to raise public awareness of cancer, and catch it earlier.
- Risk of cervical cancer cut by providing HPV vaccine for girls in second year of school.
- Scrapped parking charges at NHS-run hospital. Patients and staff save £25 million.
- Highest number of GPs per head of the population in the UK; more practices are now open in the evenings and at weekends.
- Scotland first country in the UK to have a mental health waiting times target. Over £150 million invested over the next five years to improve mental health services.
- 2.2 million registered with an NHS dentist than when the SNP took office.
- 98% of primary and secondary schools providing two hours of physical education a week – up from 10 per cent in 2005.
- More funding provided to support carers and young carers; over 22,500 benefiting from the Short Breaks Fund.
- Irresponsible alcohol discounts in supermarkets and off-licences banned.
- Legal age for buying tobacco raised to 18.
- Control of social care services budget through the Self-Directed Support Act.
- Extra funding for Scotland’s veteran charities, ex-service men and women receive priority treatment in the NHS and other services.
A smarter Scotland
- All children in primaries 1 to 3 – around 135,000 pupils – benefiting from free school meals, saving families around £380 per child per year.
- The £160 million Attainment Scotland Fund improves literacy, numeracy and health and well-being for children in over 300 primary schools in the most deprived areas.
- Spending per pupil is significantly higher here than south of the border – 9% higher per pupil in primary at £4,899, 12% higher per pupil in secondary at £6,738.
- Investment of £1.8 billion and 607 school projects delivered.
- 4,020 school children able to learn in dedicated Gaelic medium language classes.
- The Disabled Students Allowance in Scotland protected and bursaries for students maintained, while the Tories abolished both elsewhere in the UK.
- Education Maintenance Allowance in Scotland expanded– scrapped in England – to support 57,000 school pupils and college students from low income families.
- Over 119,000 full-time equivalent college places provided – exceeding 2011 manifesto commitment to maintain 116,000 places.
- £530 million invested in college estates and state-of-the-art buildings in Glasgow, Kilmarnock and Inverness – plus £140 million for Fife and Forth Valley colleges.
- Full-time college students benefit from the highest bursary of anywhere in the UK.
- A record numbers of Scots supported into university. Young people from deprived areas more likely to study at university.
- The poorest university students living at home benefit from a minimum income guarantee of £7,625 per year – the highest in the UK.
- More women entering universities are choosing to study science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. They make up 48% of those gaining degrees.
A wealthier Scotland
- Scotland has the highest employment rate of the four nations in the UK, women and youth employment rates exceed those of the UK.
- Typical pay in Scotland is now, for the first time, higher than in England.
- The Scottish economy has seen three years of growth up to the third quarter of 2015.
- 186,855 young people took the opportunity to undertake a modern apprenticeship since 2007, and by 2020 a further 30,000 opportunities will be available every year.
- Around 20,000 families supported to buy their own home through home ownership schemes – three quarters of them under the age of 35.
- Councils enabled to build new homes– 5,292 council houses built since 2011.
- 15,500 social houses for rent safeguarded by ending Right to Buy.
- £500 million invested to stimulate conomic growth in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley.
- £125 million allocated to Aberdeen to stimulate economic growth in the city, plus an additional £254 million for infrastructure projects in the North-east.
- £60 million put towards a Town Centre Regeneration Fund.
- £500 million spent on tackling fuel poverty, with one in three households helped to improve home energy efficiency.
- Tax burden reduced on the sale of homes, with 93% of house buyers paying less than under UK stamp duty land tax or paying no tax at all.
- The number of private sector businesses in Scotland at 361,345, the highest number recorded – productivity is up 4.4% compared to 0.2 per cent in the UK.
- International exports increased by 36%. (2007 to 2014) £20.3 billion to £27.5 billion.
- Tourism healthier with 15.5 million tourists visiting in the year to September 2015.
- Enterprise and development spending per head in Scotland is double that of the UK, and spending on research and development has increased by 44% since 2007.
A fairer Scotland
- More than 80% of Scots paid the Living Wage of £8.25 an hour.
- In 2011, the first government in the UK to pay the Living Wage to our staff.
- Poverty levels down. 260,000 fewer people in poverty in 2014 than in 2000.
- Invested £90 million to ensure that no-one in Scotland has to pay the Bedroom Tax, protecting up to 72,000 households from threat of eviction or becoming homeless.
- Over half a million vulnerable households – including over 200,000 pensioners and 86,000 single parents – protected from UK Government cuts to Council Tax support.
- Almost 3,000 disabled people supported through the Independent Living Fund Scotland, set up after the UK Government scrapped its support.
- Over 200 companies signed the Scottish Business Pledge to boost productivity and increase diversity.
- Number of days lost to industrial disputes down 84%, the lowest of any UK country.
- Encouraging public, third, private sector companies to boardroom gender equality.
- Nicola Sturgeon appointed first cabinet with an equal number of women and men.
- Scotland is leading light on LGBTI equality, with progressive equal marriage laws.
- Over £75 million has been spent since 2007 to help some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
A safer Scotland
- Violent crime down 55%, homicides 51%, weapons/knife crime two-thirds.
- £216 million invested in the creation of the new national police service.
- The new Scottish Crime Campus provides a focal point for excellence in intelligence-sharing, evidence gathering and forensic science to tackle serious organised crime.
- Since 2007, 1,000 more police officers keeping our communities safe. By contrast, police numbers south of the border have fallen to their lowest level in 15 years.
- Automatic early release ended: long-term prisoners will serve their sentence in full.
- Reconviction rate reduced to its lowest level in 16 years.
- £75 million seized from criminals reinvested in community projects for the young.
- HMP Grampian opened in March 2014 and HMP Low Moss opened in March 2012, two major parts of the prison building programme.
- Access to air weapons tightened.
- A record £33 million invested to tackle domestic violence against women and girls.
- Access to justice for survivors of domestic abuse improved too.
- Tackling sectarianism backed up with record investment.
- The new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service created.
- Scotland has the UK’s first national action plan on human rights.
Investing for the future
- £1 billion invested annually in public and sustainable transport to encourage people out of cars. Spending for safer walking and cycling at a record high.
- The £1.4 billion Queensferry Crossing is on time and on budget.
- Tolls on the Forth and Tay bridges abolished, commuters continue to save £184 a year crossing the Tay, £207 a year on crossing the Forth.
- Borders Railway reopened, longest domestic railway built in Britain in over 100 years.
- £742 million Edinburgh-Glasgow rail improvements; widespread electrification of the network between the two cities, and to Stirling and Dunblane.
- £3 billion to create 80 miles of dual carriageway on the A9 Perth-Inverness, £745 million to Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, plus M8, M73 and M74 motorway.
- £170 million Aberdeen Inverness rail upgrade; new stations at Dalcross and Kintore.
- Contracts worth £97 million will protect the 150-strong workforce and create 100 new jobs at the last commercial shipyard on the Clyde.
- Prestwick Airport saved from closure, safeguarding around 1,350 jobs.
- £500 million a year to deliver higher water quality, better environmental protection, and better service for customers. Scottish Water now UK’s most trusted utility.
- £400 million to deliver superfast broadband to 95 per cent of properties across Scotland by the end of 2017.
- The independence referendum was the biggest democratic exercise in our history.
- The voting age for Scottish Parliament and local government elections permanently lowered to 16, starting from May 2016.
- Local communities given a voice – backed up with £20 million funding – in the planning and delivery of local services through the Community Empowerment Act.
- £9 million Scottish Land Fund helped 52 communities across the country purchase land. Over 500,000 acres is now in community ownership – benefiting 71,000 people.
- The ambitious Land Reform Bill introduced to transform rules around the ownership, accessibility and benefits of land in Scotland. More reforms to come.
A greener Scotland
- Renewable electricity output more than doubled since 2007, with renewables largest contributor to electricity generation in Scotland.
- Our target to reduce energy consumption by 12% by 2020 exceeded, a 13.3% reduction between 2006 and 2013.
- Scotland is on target to deliver world-leading climate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020.
- Moratorium on underground coal gasification and fracking.
- Household recycling at its highest ever levels. 43% of household waste recycled.
- Carrier bag use reduced by 80%. Bag charge raised nearly £7 million for good causes.
- Investment in flood defences and new measures in the Flooding Act.
- Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to sign up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals; established the world’s first Climate Justice Fund.
- Scotland became the world’s second Fair Trade Nation in 2013.
Supporting rural communities
- A record £1 billion invested in vessels, ports and ferry services since 2007 as part of a commitment to the islands and remote communities.
- Residents of Caithness and north-west Sutherland, Colonsay, Islay, Jura, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are eligible for a 50% discount on air fares.
- Created a key role in reforming EU fisheries policy to bring an end to the wasteful discarding of fish at sea.
- With food and drink exports valued over £5 billion, and new jobs created in the sector by 2020, continued support to promote Scotland’s top quality produce.
- Fares on ferry services frozen until 2017 for passengers, cars, commercial vehicles.
- Opting out of cultivation of genetically modified crops in Scotland.
- Scotland’s first National Marine Plan to achieve sustainable development of our seas
Enabling creativity and sport
- Free access maintained to museums and galleries, with 27 million visits to Scotland’s world class national collections since 2007.
- Government provided support for Scotland to welcome the world in 2014, with the staging of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
- £162 million pumped into Scotland’s screen sector since 2007.
- £130 million invested in our cultural infrastructure – including revamped National Museum of Scotland, National Portrait Gallery, the palace at Stirling Castle.
- £16 million direct investment in Edinburgh’s 12 major festivals since 2008.
- £25 million for the Victoria and Albert Museum of Design in Dundee.
- The new Bannockburn visitor centre which opened in February 2014, and the creation of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire which opened in December 2010.
- 1.5 million opportunities created for young people to take part in youth arts in 2015.
- Scotland’s budget protected from a £7 billion cut by the UK Treasury over the financial arrangements enabling new powers for our Parliament.
Remember this, like PFI contracted schools, no matter how good or bad you think life is in Scotland under whatsoever political party, we do not own our own country for which we pay direct and indirect taxes to the UK Treasury, and soon some taxes to our own Parliament. Ownership comes only when independence is restored.