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THE 2021 Scottish Parliament election is finally upon us.
A record number of people have registered to vote, with more than three-quarters signed up to do so in person.
So before casting a ballot in the polling booth, it’s important to know exactly what it is you’re voting for.
Handily, we’ve compiled a quick guide to some of the key manifesto promises made by the SNP, Tories, Labour, Greens, LibDems and Alba.
From independence to the pandemic, and education to the economy, we have listed the party’s headline pledges in each area.
Manifesto in one sentence: Scotland’s future, Scotland’s choice Covid: Cross-party steering group on Covid recovery, establishing a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic and easing lockdown laws which are no longer necessary.
Independence: Hold a referendum in the first half of a new parliamentary term, after the immediate Covid crisis.
Environment: Create 50% more woodland, decarbonise the heating of one million homes by 2030 with an investment of £1.6bn over five years.
Health: Start a consultation on a National Care Service, ramp up NHS activity by 10%, increase frontline spending by 20% and give NHS staff a 4% average pay rise.
Education: Spend £1 billion on closing the attainment gap and hire 3500 more teaching staff.
Economy: Invest £1bn in National Investment Bank and £33bn on infrastructure.
EU: Rejoin as soon as possible.
Manifesto in one sentence: No to indyref2 Covid: Pledge £600 million to tackle NHS backlog in 2021-22 and spend £40m on NHS staff wellbeing.
Independence: Refuse to countenance another vote under any circumstances. Repeal the Referendum Act.
Environment: End peat extraction and restore peatland to 20,000 hectares by 2024-25. Support North Sea Transition Deal, create at least one new national park and spend £25m on making Scotland’s seas cleaner.
Health: Increase annual NHS funding by at least £2bn by 2025-26 and raise mental health funding to 10% of the frontline health budget. Oppose “unnecessary” structural reforms of the social care system.
Education: Provide £1bn of attainment funding to all schools over the parliamentary term and recruit 3000 more teachers.
Economy: 25% rates relief for businesses in 2022-23 and a tapered scheme for businesses with rateable values between £15,000 and £20,000. Scrap parking charges and keep poundage rate freeze until 2023 re-evaluation.
EU: Promote “global Britain” in the post-Brexit landscape.
Manifesto in one sentence: A national recovery plan – and no to indyref2 Covid: Implement a five-pronged national recovery plan focusing on jobs, the NHS, education, community and climate.
Independence: Refuse to countenance another vote within the next parliamentary term.
Environment: Improve the energy efficiency of buildings, provide interest-free loans for electric cars and decarbonise the railways.
Health: Tackle the cancer diagnosis backlog, improve access to mental health support with a new referral and triage service and raise the mental health budget to 11% of the NHS budget. Set up national care service and tackle historic low pay for NHS workers.
Education: Personal catch-up plan for every young person as country recovers from the pandemic. Prioritise vaccinations for teaching and school staff and introduce minimum student income.
Economy: Set up Business Restart Fund and Business Transition Fund to help companies hit hard by the pandemic. Restructure the Scottish National Investment Bank.
EU: Push for close ties but not plan to rejoin.
Manifesto in one sentence: A fair and green recovery from the pandemic Covid: Back a public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic, improve PPE procurement and introduce a grant for everyone forced to isolate due to an infectious disease.
Independence: Back indyref2 within the next parliamentary term.
Environment: Lobby the UK Government to stop issuing new licenses for oil and gas exploration, ban the importation of shale and fracked gas, lead a green transition for Mossmorran and Grangemouth and introduce low emission zones in areas which exceed air quality limits.
Health: Support assisted death for terminally ill adults and commit at least 11% of health spending to general practice by the end of the next Parliament. Raise frontline health spending on mental health to 10% and scrap competitive tendering in the care system.
Education: Make “responsible citizenship” part of the curriculum, with lessons on the climate crisis, the Empire, LGBT+ inclusivity and mental health.
Economy: Introduce 1% annual “millionaire’s tax” and scrap council tax.
EU: Rejoin EU as an independent nation.
Manifesto in one sentence: Recovery first – indyref2 never.
Covid: Set up a specialist clinical network to research and treat long Covid.
Independence: Refuse to countenance another vote under any circumstances.
Environment: Invest in low-carbon heat networks and anti-fuel poverty measures, as well as restoring peatland and creating new national parks.
Health: Commit 15% of new health spending to mental health. Train more mental health specialists and tackle the nation’s drug crisis as a health problem rather than prosecuting users.
Education: Comprehensive programme to help children catch up with missed lessons. Nordic-style play-based education until age of seven.
Economy: Reform budget allocations for local councils, new pay audits to ensure fair opportunities and increase job opportunities in rural areas.
EU: No longer firmly in favour of rejoining EU, but aim to keep that option open.
Manifesto in one sentence: A manifesto to ‘shake things up’
Covid: Back an independent inquiry into the handling of the pandemic and a “catch-up” programme for all the NHS activity which was cancelled because of Covid.
Independence: Push for a referendum from day one of the new Scottish parliament.
Environment: New Scottish National Renewable Corporation to create a comprehensive plan for decarbonising energy production, transport and heating. New Scottish National Housing Company to formulate plan to insulate every house in Scotland.
Health: Launch a mental health recovery plan and a National Care Service which is free at the point of need and owned by the public. Build world-class care homes and invest in cutting-edge medical technology.
Education: Create “bonfire of paperwork” so teachers aren’t “worn down with bureaucracy”. Extra support for post-pandemic catch-up and mental health services.
Economy: Set up a Scottish National Housing Company to build as top-quality houses, National Investment Bank to lead economic development.
EU: Independent Scotland should join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – an interim position while either negotiating full EU membership or considering other proposals for a relationship with the EU.