Scottish National Party
Easily the biggest manifesto of the bunch, complete with “what I did this Parliament” style scrapbook section. But what of the proposals for civil justice?
- Kicks off with a laudible statement of intent: “The SNP believes that justice must be available to everyone irrespective of their wealth.”
- Commitment to “take forward” the recommendations of the Gill Review. Not much specification on which ones, though.
- Will seek to introduce a form of Class Actions. Cool!
- Slightly less nervous about the SNP’s statements on civil legal aid than the other main parties, though it’s clearly in for a rough ride whoever gets in.
- The manifesto boasts about having incrased the upper income limit for civil legal aid “making more people potentially eligible for legal aid”. More accurately, should say that it makes more adults eligible for legal aid, while other measures introduced made many, many more children not eligible for legal aid.
- Reform of damages law “building on” work of the Scottish Law Commission.
- Will consult on same-sex marriage and registration of civil partnership.
And if you’ll excuse me a small detour down the education law avenue …
- “From August this year there will be a new legal limit of 25 on class sizes in Primary 1.” (unless the parent appeals, in which case it’s still 33!)
- Will introduce a strong presumption against the closure of rural schools – what again? Doesn’t that amount to an admission that they messed up the current Act which is all of one year in force?
- Will work to ensure the words of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Acts 2004 & 2009 are reflected in real improvements for the children with additional support needs and their parents. And so say all of us!
So, all in all, pretty good all things considered.
Scottish Socialist Party
One of many, many, many left wing parties you can now choose to vote on – with the probable outcome that none of them will be elected. The front cover of the manifesto features George Osbourne panning in a window. But what’s on the inside?
- A system of accountability over the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Services, judges and sheriffs, with the involvement of organisations such as the Law Society of Scotland and Victim Support Scotland.
- Extend ability to claim legal aid regardless of income for any case where a victim is seeking protection from unsafe contact abuse, violence, stalking, and harassment.
- The extension of legal aid to cover workplace and consumer disputes.
- All families with children who have been awarded on the higher rate care
component of DLA to be entitled to at least 4 weeks respite care per year.
I could go on, but there is a general problem with the manifesto which is that it doesn’t appear to have been proof-read, with the result that it contains a number of statements which are out-of-date and make it look like the SSP don’t know what they are talking about.
For example, it calls for the Disability Discrimination Act to be replaced (it was, in October 2010). It talks about children with “special needs” which hasn’t been the correct terminology in Scotland for half a decade and it discusses reform of “school boards” which were replaced by parent councils by the last Labour / Liberal administration.
There are, it would be fair to say, spending implications to the manifesto. If they ever get into coalition, there are going to be a lot of disappointed voters out there.