The SNP have been in power in the Scottish government for a decade - that’s over half the lifetime of the Scottish Parliament. Since 2007, they’ve been developing the most progressive and innovative policies in the UK. They're a useful case study for any government.
The SNP government has increased NHS funding year after year. Spending is now £13 billion, an increase of £3.6 billion since taking office. They’ve increased spending in important areas such as mental health and A&E, and the signs of progress can clearly be seen. Patient satisfaction rates are higher than ever, with 90% of patients rating their care as good or excellent. A&E services are the best performing in the UK, with staff receiving a higher salaries than their UK counterparts.
Controversial policies like minimum pricing on alcohol, stopping irresponsible alcohol discounts, and banning smoking in vehicles where under 18s are, may have caused a stir, but it's ambitious policies like these that benefit public health.
When it comes to education, the SNP government has received a great deal of criticism for their remodelling of the national curriculum. But, with per pupil spending being higher than in England, education has improved; the percentage of pupils leaving school with at least one Scottish Higher or equivalent qualification (GCSE/A-level) has increased by 45%.
This has also resulted in more students going to university. Likewise, free university tuition in Scotland (for Scottish students) has further bolstered student numbers. This has also been supported by additional funding for students from low income families and students who have a disability - funding that has been abolished by the Conservatives in the rest of the UK.
The Scottish government has striven to defend Scots from the mistakes and actions of the Conservative government. The Scottish Parliament has abolished the bedroom tax, introduced a living wage for government workers, introduced a ‘baby box’, and have kept water services in public ownership.
The SNP government has also sought to tackle gender inequality. They've introduced a '50:50' campaign to achieve gender quality within public, third and private sector boardrooms, with the Scottish cabinet including an equal number of women and men.
Keeping Scotland green and pleasant is a real goal of the SNP government. They’ve gone a long way, with a ban on fracking, introducing carrier bag charges, easier access to recycling, and funding for alternative energy sources. The results of this can already be seen, with Scotland now producing over 50% of its electricity from renewables. It also outperforms the rest of the UK , and most western European nations, in cutting greenhouse gasses.
What can we learn from ten years of SNP government? There’s an alternative. An alternative to the cuts and privatisation of the NHS. An alternative to the mismanagement of schools. An alternative to the destructive attitude the UK government has towards the environment. The UK can be different, just look up north and see.