Monday, April 11, 2011

Public back Scottish Liberal Democrats' position on national police force and reject independence #sp11

The BBC has gone and asked some voters what they think of 25 of the pledges in the various parties' manifestos and it seems that it's the Liberal Democrats who are most in tune with what people want on the issue of the Police. It does seem a little strange that they have done it before the SNP has published theirs, but they have included known SNP priorities.

The idea of a single, national police force comes third from bottom, while maintaining the number of officers on the beat came second highest. The costs of creating a national force are estimated by the Scottish Government itself at £92 million and the move would threaten the jobs of 3000 to 4000 officers. This is a clear vindication of the Liberal Democrat position.

The most popular policy was reducing waiting times to see a Cancer specialist from 4 weeks to 2. I can't imagine anyone saying this should never be done - but 9 people did for some reason. Out of 1004 respondents, 830 ranked it in the 3 highest categories. 

The third highest priority was free university education, now favoured by everyone but the Conservatives. You have to remember, though, that Labour have only recently come round to this point of view, and they have serious form on this south of the border, going back on two manifesto pledges not to introduce them. Yes, yes, I know - but at least the redeeming feature of what we did down south, imperfect though it is, is that the poorest graduates will end up paying less than they currently do under Labour's system.

I have to confess I was slightly surprised that our policy of reducing the pay bill for the highest paid in the public sector  by 10% made it into the top ten. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good policy but I've said all along that I didn't think it would grab people. That'll be Jeremy Purvis 1 Caron Lindsay 0 then.

To me, the most revealing thing about the poll was its overwhelming rejection of both independence and the idea of a referendum on independence. The SNP's flagship policy could only manage 22nd place out of 25, marginally less unpopular than the idea of a national police force. Not only that, but the BBC gave three options to people about how Scotland should raise the money it spends.  More than three quarters chose the options for greater powers "the Scottish Government should have more power to decide how much it spends and more of the money it spends should come out of taxes paid by people in Scotland" or "the UK Government should continue to make nearly all the decisions about how much money the Scottish Government has to spend and the money it spends should come out of taxes paid by people across the UK".  This suggests it would be very counter-productive for the SNP to push the idea of the referendum or its raison d'etre of separation, because people just aren't feeling it. Will they now keep quiet about it? Or will the other parties mention the SNP commitment to separation at every single opportunity? The latter is not an option I favour, to be honest. I want to have serious and good quality discussion about the issues that really do matter to people.

The results of this poll, though, are very encouraging for the Liberal Democrats - it certainly shows that we are in tune with people on issues like university education, abolishing the Council Tax for poorer pensioners and the future of the Police. The thing is that we've always been about free education and decentralisation and fairness in the tax system for as long as I can remember and beyond that.  

1 comment:

Nic said...

My one concern is how negotiable the keeping forces local is? SNP & Labour look set to be the largest parties both of whom are for a national police force so not sure what would happen in any coalition negotiations


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