The SNP have published their manifesto today. They don’t pretend that they’re going to be the next government, but they do represent themselves as an active opposition – more, they suggest with some justice, than might be said for some other parties in Parliament. The principles are clear and strong: they’re opposed to austerity, they want to take action on poverty and inequality, they want to safeguard Britain’s position in the single market and they want to support public services. They’re unusual in treating social security as a major issue – sanctions, the rape clause, pensions, the bedroom tax and the benefits freeze. And, despite the hollow accusations from opposing parties in Scotland about the SNP’s supposed ‘obsession’, there’s nothing here about independence.
The main point of criticism is a matter of style rather than substance: there’s nothing here that couldn’t have been said within three days of the election announcement. Waiting so long to put out the manifesto tends to imply that it wasn’t seen as much of a priority, and that is a misjudgment. People need something positive to vote for, and this manifesto has something to offer.