Or if you prefer, leaflet-watch part 2.
To recap, to date one election communication had been received at Dispatches towers. At least that was the case until Thursday when 4 leaflets came through the door. One of them was in relation to the current referendum about changing the voting system, this leaflet I will return to in a later post.
First up is the leaflet from the SNP. Last year their pitch was “More Nats, less cuts” – which fell on its arse here in Renfrewshire when people realised that it was an SNP/Lib Dem administration doing the cutting. This time the pitch is “Re-elect a Scottish Government working for Scotland”. This leaflet has at least got some policies attached. What is interesting is the phrases that are capitalised on the middle pages. “WORKING HARD TO MAKE SCOTLAND BETTER… FREEZE COUNCIL TAX… FREE… NO TUITION FEES… REDUCE CRIME… +… 25,000… PROTECT INVESTMENT… 130,000 JOBS… NATIONS FUTURE” In the age of the soundbite, this picking out of key phrases highlights the policies that the SNP wish to promote. Looking underneath the soundbites, one will see problems with these policies. There’s no mention of a replacement to Council Tax (were your sums wrong Alex?). “PROTECT INVESTMENT” refers to protecting investment in the NHS. A better pledge would be to look for value for money for the NHS, especially as there has been no removal of the level of management in the NHS, and to look to plough these savings/cuts into improving treatment and care (some interpersonal skills for doctors would not go amiss). For example, the RAH (the nearest hospital to here) is managed by 3 managers, 1 suffices – that is a target for cuts straight away.
As you might have gathered, this leaflet is light on where the preference is for cuts. Health is out, you would think that Police cuts would be out (“Maintaining the extra 1000 police on our streets - REDUCE CRIME”), except the SNP are apparently minded to follow the Labour policy of merging all nine police authorities into the one large unwieldy organisation. Strathclyde is ill equipped as it is to tackle crime properly, what makes the prospective politicians think that cutting police budgets will improve detection rates. Education might be in for cuts (as there’s no repeat of the class sizes pledge from 2007). However Scottish education is struggling and would struggle with further cuts (thanks to Labour’s expensive second mortgage on every school in the country - £400million per year folks!). Overall a good leaflet, but one that poses more questions than answers.
Next up is the leaflet from the Scottish Greens. The key selling points here are “No Fees… Fairer Taxes to invest in public services… Cut Fuel Bills – Insulate every home.” While some of the aims are welcome (looking to restore bus regulation, a renationalised Scotrail and a version of the GARL that is not New Labour’s fait accompli version), there is surprisingly little mention of the Greens flagship policy of the Land Value Tax.
While the phrase is not mentioned in the leaflet, it has been mentioned by their Co-Convenor Patrick Harvie. The prospect of tax rises is raised here, thus eliminating the game of where’s the cuts. So the game becomes which taxes are to rise? Like the SNP leaflet, the Green leaflet poses more questions than answers.
Last up is the election leaflet from Richard Vassie, the former SNP councillor who (alongside fellow former SNP councillor for Glenburn Bill Martin) was ejected from the SNP before the 2007 elections. Unlike the other two leaflets, there are no policies just a promise – “I’m on your side fighting for the issues which are important to you. Fighting for you” – which post expenses scandal isn’t really a viable election pitch. Except the way things are going, this will be the template New Labour will go down. Vote for us because… well because.