Whatever the national and international media may be telling us the next political event is a Scottish Parliament election in May.
Devolution has given us responsibility for many important parts of our nation life so the Scottish Government’s responsibilities are substantial and significant. It is tempting – particularly if you want independence - to concentrate on the powers which are missing, like almost all taxation and welfare payments, and the power to stop the expenditure of eye-watering amounts of money on the nonsense of nuclear weapons.
But what we all need to concentrate on in this election campaign is the powers the Scottish Parliament does have and the policy of prospective Scottish governments.
And at the end of the day it is a simple question: who do you trust? Government ministers have executive authority to deal with all sorts of day to day decisions, and the Scottish Parliament has the power to change the law in ways which can have quite radical consequences.
Trust is earned. The folk I trust in life are those who have demonstrated one way or another that they know how to be responsible with the things, opportunities or privileges given to them. We don’t trust those who are dishonest even in small things, because we know it’s an attitude of mind which will affect the larger decisions. We don’t trust those who take us for granted, and woe betide the leaders of a political party who assume voters will continued to support them just because of the party name or history.
Why trust the SNP? Because despite the setback of not winning the independence referendum we have got on with the business of running the country. And that has been governed by an overarching policy of trying to reduce inequalities, and encourage sustainable economic growth. And all of that with a reducing budget – still set by Westminster – and as we know all too well locally, a reduced oil price.
The Council Tax has been frozen for nine years. Crime is at a 41 year low. Record numbers of young people are in work, education or training. More companies are paying the Living Wage – the real Living Wage, not the Tories’ made-up pretend Living Wage. We have some of the fastest, highest quality healthcare in the world. We have record exam results in our schools. And the bedroom tax has been mitigated so that not a soul in Scotland has to pay a penny for the bedroom tax.
The recent negotiation of the fiscal framework has also been instructive. Put very simply the UK Treasury wanted to reduce the Scottish budget in exchange for some new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament. We should all be very glad that John Swinney held his ground. There was no justification for the Treasury’s stance and eventually they had to concede as much. Which party would you trust to protect Scotland from being run down by Westminster?
Nicola Sturgeon for First Minister. John Swinney for deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary. Both votes SNP.