An SNP blueprint to improve social justice suggests decriminalising drugs, creating new land taxes and eradicating child poverty.
The report, co-written by Dundee MSP Shona Robison, sets out a range of plans on welfare, employment, public finance and immigration.
Conservatives branded it an un-costed wish list while Labour said key improvements could have been made years ago using the Scottish Parliament’s existing powers.
This time, the party suggests shifting the balance towards a land value tax.
Other key policy ideas include:
- Piloting universal basic income and minimum income guarantees.
- Using independence to push up pensions.
- Taking full control of employment law to band exploitative zero-hours contracts with or without independence.
- Reversing the “hostile environment” of Conservative government immigration laws.
- Re-establishing freedom of movement.
- Imposing excess profit taxes on sectors which benefited from the pandemic.
On drug policy, the SNP calls for a “citizens’ assembly” to explore decriminalisation for personal use. It’s seen as part of an attempt to tackle Scotland’s scandalous drug-deaths record.
Ms Robison, an MSP in the city with the worst record in the country, put her name to plans for safe consumption rooms for users to take drugs in a “safe environment”.
The report is the product of more than two years work led by Ms Robison along with Neil Gray who was elected to Holyrood in May after being an MP at Westminster.
In the publication, Ms Robison and Mr Gray wrote: “Our report is not a costed manifesto for parliamentary terms or, indeed, for just one political party. It is a blueprint, a route map to a more socially just Scotland – one that focuses on how we should make decisions, with illustrative proposals for policy choices that can help us build a wellbeing society.
“We consider the opportunities in the short term and what is achievable with the powers of devolution. Our focus, however, is on how much more we can achieve with independence.”
“This report also talks up a raft of policies that the SNP have the powers at their disposal right now to tackle. We’ve heard it all before from SNP ministers on scrapping or reforming council tax during their 14 years in office.”
Conservative MSP Miles Briggs.
On land value taxes, the SNP social justice plan states: “Half of the UK’s wealth is tied up in land and property, yet land and property only contribute around 10 per cent of the tax revenue. That in itself is a compelling case for change, representing a huge area of untapped resource which could and should be delivering wider public benefit.”
And on poverty, the report sets out three stages. The first, called “action now”, covers new powers already being implemented.
With independence, the SNP claims it could “repair the damage” of dependency on food banks, reverse the two-child benefit cap and remove the “punitive” sanctions system. Finally the SNP suggests looking at long term proposals including universal basic income.
Conservative social justice spokesman Miles Briggs claimed it’s based on “fantasy economics”.
He said: “They simply don’t accept the reality that independence would already cost Scottish families thousands of pounds before their plans to spend even more public money.
“Even the SNP’s own advisers highlight that a universal basic income would mean a tax rise for almost everyone and be devastating for Scotland’s economy.
“This report also talks up a raft of policies that the SNP have the powers at their disposal right now to tackle. We’ve heard it all before from SNP Ministers on scrapping or reforming council tax during their 14 years in office.
“It was also Nicola Sturgeon who took her eye off the ball in relation to drug deaths and slashed funding for vital rehabilitation services. They don’t need drug laws to be devolved to fix that right now.”
Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman, Daniel Johnson, said: “We do need to tackle drug deaths. We do need a humane asylum policy. And we do need fair work principles. But we also need honesty from the SNP.
“We know that the SNP’s blueprint for independence; the ‘Growth Commission’, sets out a plan to fund separation through cuts to public services.
“This contradicts the wish-list on display here. While the SNP play fantasy economics, Labour will continue to fight for equality now.”