In advance of the General Election on Thursday 12th December, we look at each of the main political party commitments and why they want your vote. In this article, we look at the Scottish Conservative Party:
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The Conservative plan to deliver their ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal by the current extension deadline of 30th January 2020 has been the central message throughout this election.
Boris Johnson has repeated the ‘Get Brexit Done’ line what feels like hundreds of times through the 6 week campaign. And while that message will land very well in Tory heartlands around England, here in Scotland the election will be far from an easy win for the Tories.
They continue to trail behind the SNP in polling, with the STV/Ipsos MORI poll putting them at 26% versus the nationalists 44%. They hope to return more than the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs in the 2017 election.
The Tories are standing in 58 of 59 Scottish seats and hope to take some of the marginals around the country, counting on their pro-Brexit pro-Union message hitting the right note with voters who are feeling political exhaustion.
This election is dealing with so-called ‘reserved’ matters – items which only Westminster has a say over, not the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast. This includes foreign policy, defence, benefits & social security, the constitution, trade and industry and immigration among other themes.
The NHS, education, local government, law and order, planning, housing, social care and the environment are examples of issues which are devolved to Scotland and therefore not likely to change immediately as a result of this Westminster election. The impacts of Brexit and independence will, however, have a significant impact on all aspects of life here and that’s why they feature so heavily in media reports.
As for policy, the Tory manifesto outlines modest tax and spend plans, nothing of the scale of the Labour party, and focusses on moving the country forward and unblocking the Brexit mess. They have confirmed their intention to complete the Brexit trade agreement negotiations by the end of December 2020.
They oppose Scottish independence and have said they will not grant a Section 30 order to give the Scottish Parliament the powers needed for another independence referendum.
On infrastructure, they will invest in gigabit broadband for every home and business, and say they will ‘build on’ the £1.25bn contract for Royal Navy frigates to be constructed at Rosyth.
The current £1.9tn national debt comes up in the party’s manifesto briefly, with a commitment to zero borrowing for resource spending, capping capital investment at 3% GDP.
There will be extra funding for the NHS and education in England, with consequential revenue of £4.7bn for Scotland to 2023. There are commitments on extra nurses, additional police officers and efforts to keep GPs in the NHS.
National Insurance will be paid at £9,500 from 2020, representing a cut in tax for 32 million workers they say.
The party will introduce an Australian-style points-based system for immigration, prioritising people who “have a good grasp of English, have good education and qualifications and have been law-abiding citizens in their own countries”.
On LGBT+ equality, the Conservative manifesto outlines their commitment to:
- Host the UK Government’s first international LGBT conference.
- Vigorously combat harassment and violence against LGBT people.
At the time of publication, only 3 of 58 candidates had signed the Equality Network LGBTI pledge.
Pink Saltire are profiling the 5 main Scottish political parties in the General Election. Check our website for coverage of the SNP, Lib Dem, Green and Labour commitments.