Wednesday, 6 April 2011

What do our political parties stand for? (and how can we find this out?)

The Scottish Parliament dissolved ahead of the 5 May Election on 22 March. I watched the 5 main political parties out on the campaign trail and waited to read a full explanation of their policies in their manifestos. Two weeks later I am still waiting. So far this week there have been 2 high profile manifesto launches which means that half our parties are still campaigning without telling us what they would do in Government. All the polls tell us that a minority or coalition government is likely so it is important that we know the policies of the smaller parties as well as the larger ones.

My colleagues in the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office were awaiting manifestos even more keenly than I am and they have discovered that some parties will only make their manifestos available online; you will not be able to have a paper copy unless you print it yourself. Others are still discussing whether they will charge for copies of their manifesto! Many voters will struggle to access online only documents, and many more will make their voting decisions based on incomplete information or how well the party leader performs in a public debate.

Can you imagine applying for a job and telling your potential employer that they could not see your CV until half way through the interview? These parties are asking us to choose who will form the next Scottish Government. They should have the honesty and integrity to tell us what they stand for.

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