SNP issue warning to voters swaying to Labour and promise end to 'Westminster cuts'

ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan explains the key policies at the heart of the SNP's General Election manifesto

The SNP have promised to "end Westminster cuts" and to boost funding for the NHS in their manifesto ahead of the election on July 4.

Speaking at the document's launch in Edinburgh, First Minister and SNP Leader John Swinney said a vote for the SNP is "a vote for Scotland's values", and urged people to vote against the "outrageous Westminster power grab".

The SNP leader said "people are absolutely desperate to get rid of the Tories", acknowledging that voters in Scotland are "considering voting Labour".

He warned voters to "be careful what you wish for, because the Labour party is going to pick up where the Tory party left off with spending cuts."

"We will always put the interests of Scottish people first", Swinney insisted, criticising what he called the "arbitrary Tory fiscal rules, adopted by Labour", which he said "will bake in more eye-watering cuts."

The manifesto promises “new, sensible fiscal rules” - the party has regularly criticised Labour for saying it would follow strict guidelines in dealing with the public finances.

Swinney said he would “end the cuts, reverse the £1.3 billion cut to Scotland’s capital budget and invest in public services, starting with the health service".

He added: “We will join with progressive politicians south of the border to press for greater funding for the NHS and for the UK Government to match the pay deals we have given our health staff in Scotland.”

What are the SNP's key manifesto pledges?

  • Deliver independence

  • Rejoin the EU

  • Table a “Keep the NHS in Public Hands Bill”, and urge UK government to boost NHS funding by at least £16bn, which would provide an extra £1.6bn to Scotland

  • Demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

  • Scrap the two child benefit cap

  • Support the abolition of the House of Lords

  • Scrap "exploitative" zero hours contracts, banning fire and rehire and scrap the Minimum Service Bill

  • Scrap Trident

  • Decriminalise drugs for personal use and encouraging more supervised drug consumption facilities to tackle the drugs death crisis in Scotland

The SNP are continuing to promise they will deliver independence, despite the country voting against it in 2014, and the Supreme Court ruling in 2022 that the Scottish Parliament cannot hold a second independence referendum without consent from Westminster.

Swinney said during his manifesto speech that the SNP does not want "independence for its own sake", insisting "it is through the power of democracy that we will win our independence – there is no other way".

The very first page of the manifesto reads: "Vote SNP for Scotland to become an independent country."

In an interview with ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith, Swinney said he is going to "intensify pressure on the UK government to recognise that Scotland wants to have a democratic opportunity to choose independence."

"The Scottish Parliament was elected in 2021 with a majority of MSPs supportive of a referendum on independence", he insisted.

The party also pledged to table a “Keep the NHS in Public Hands Bill”, he added, aiming to provide a “legal guarantee” that the health service remains in public hands.

The SNP would fight against the two-child benefit cap, he said, as well as nuclear weapons and the push for the abolition of the House of Lords.

“Elected government, not ermine-clad cronies, lift the two-child cap, not the cap on bankers’ bonuses, bairns, not bombs, and investment, not cuts,” he said.

“I believe these choices represent the values most of us share.

“They are Scotland’s values – and a vote for the SNP – a vote for this manifesto – is a vote for those values.”

Swinney urged whichever party wins the General Election to commit to spending at least £10 billion extra annually on health across the UK, a figure he said would generate an additional £1 billion a year for Scotland.

The SNP leader is also urging the future prime minister to resolve pay disputes in NHS England by investing at least £6 billion to match a pay deal agreed for junior doctors and nurses in Scotland.

Health care is a devolved matter in Scotland, meaning the Scottish government makes decisions on running its health service and funding allocation - but the Westminster government decides how much money is made available to Scotland.

Just three weeks ago, NHS waiting lists in Scotland reached a record high, with the number of people waiting for treatment hitting 840,300.

The report also concluded that there was more than 8,000 waits over two years – and 85,000 waits of over a year for either an outpatient appointment or to start treatment.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "All the SNP do is focus on constitutional wrangling, they're the ones that aren't focussed on what people care about day to day.

"They've already made Scotland the highest tax capital of the UK and if Labour are elected, they would just do the same... A vote for anyone who is not a Conservative at this election is just a vote for higher taxes."

Swinney has only been first minister since May this year, taking over from Humza Yousaf who resigned after he ended his party's power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens in a row over climate targets and gender reforms.

The party was also plagued by a scandal over a criminal investigation into party finances, with the husband of former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Peter Murrell, facing police charges.

Currently the third largest party in Westminster, the SNP are now facing a significant threat from Labour, with a recent poll projecting it could drop to only 15 seats - down from the 48 won in 2019.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every day in the run-up to the election Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…