SNP's manifesto short on words and genuine ideas

THE publication of the Scottish National Party's manifesto for the UK General Election means that Scotland's voters now have before them the prospectuses for the four main parties with a realistic chance of either having or influencing power after 6 May.

Yesterday's offering from the SNP was slim, both in the number of pages of policy offered to the electorate (a mere 32) but also in terms of the promises the party which holds power at Holyrood offered to the electorate north of the Border.

Regrettably, the manifesto opened with an underlying tone of xenophobia with the SNP's main rivals – the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems – referred to as "the London parties," a blatant and dishonourable attempt to re-write history and ignore the Scottish antecedence of the main UK parties.

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Beyond that, however, what the SNP offer to the voters of Scotland was based on implausible expectations, false hopes and blatant distortion of the facts whilst conveniently ignoring the reality of the perilous predicament of the Scottish economy which is, whether the Nationalists like it or not, part of the UK financial system.

But what is most disheartening about this election is that these sins of commission and omission are not unique to the SNP but have been depressingly repeated by the other three main parities when they launched their equally mendacious programmes for government.

There is one inconvenient truth about this election and it is this: we, the voters, those who have to choose, are not being told the truth by any of the political parties as our current and putative leaders are just too scared to confront the reality of what lies ahead as the UK has to curb a massive deficit which is the direct result of the need to bail out reckless banks.

In this context, the suggestion yesterday by Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, that a vote for his party would somehow obviate the need for cuts in Scotland's budget was mendacity on a grand scale, a pledge that he must know simply cannot be delivered.

To take just one example, his claim that the UK can quickly save huge amounts of money by axing the Trident nuclear missile system is simply disingenuous as any savings from such a move are many years away and will do little or nothing to solve the country's immediate economic problems.

By making such a claim Mr Salmond insults the intelligence of a Scottish electorate grown weary of such assertions and which knows that this, like his attempt to encourage voters south of the Border not to vote Labour or Tory to maximise the influence of minority parties, is mere boastful bombast.

As the one party with obviously no chance – or presumably interest – of taking over in Number 10, the SNP has the opportunity to be different, to offer something fresh and honest, and at least to paint a realistic picture. Yesterday should have laid the foundations for the Holyrood 2011 campaign but it exposed a party bereft of ideas.