SNP plans to ‘shoehorn’ social policies under fire

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SNP plans to shoehorn social policies like the abolition of child poverty and free university education into a written constitution have come under fire from party activists.

Experts have previously warned that such a document should focus on broader rights like civil liberties and freedom of speech rather than day-to-day policy issues.

Delegate Daniel Wylie said future Treasury ministers may wish to divert cash away from free higher education on to other “equally worthy” causes.

He added that the definition of child poverty and a right to a home, which the Nationalists want to include in the constitution, are unclear.

“These kind of detailed policy questions and decisions about distributing limited resources are best settled I believe through the people, through elections, and by their representatives in the legislature. They are not best settled by judges whose philosophies are not subject to regular approval by the people.”

He added that Scandinavian countries have done the most to bring in full employment and tackle child poverty, but have constitutions which take a broad brush approach. He also pointed to the “citizens of Greece, whose constitutional right to a job look rather hollow just now”.

Delegate John Smart said that issues like the right to a free education are “not properly definable”, and added: “They’re a matter of opinion. They’re good objects, but they’re not constitutional.”

But a vote to have former Parliamentary Business manager Bruce Crawford’s resolution on the constitution remitted back for further consideration was rejected by delegates.

Crawford said: “It’s the SNP’s job to flesh out what the nation’s constitution might look like – I think that should include lots of things including material on economic and social rights.”