Manifestos: the template on which a government can be formed or just a dense, text-heavy document that can be ignored at will once parties have assumed power? I would imagine the bookie's favourite would be the latter.

Perhaps it’s cynical of me to suggest parties deliberately ignore their manifestos but I wouldn’t bet on it. All too frequently in this age of ‘post-truth politics’, breaking a manifesto commitment doesn’t carry the same weight or gravitas it once did.

In elections gone past, breaking a commitment to the electorate would, rightly, have been considered a cardinal sin. Maybe even a resignation offence. It would have given the opposition ammunition for months and practically write the next swathe of anti-government campaign messages leading into a general election.

The root of this political antipathy? Public standards in office stooping lower than a snake's belly.  Whether you blame it on Trump, Boris or anyone in between, there’s a disease within our political class that allows politicians to think they can get away with it. Holyrood is hardly free from scandal too and a recent and rather expensive iPad bill will attest to that.

However you want to frame it – a mistruth, a misspoken word, a linguistic hoodwink or just an outright lie – politicians and their parties surely cannot spend years constructing a document to then drop it at the first available opportunity?

It’s long odds that it’s dropped in its entirety. Some pledges will be realised. Some will be partially achieved. Some will fall off the edge of a cliff; anyone remember the SNP’s promise for free bikes and iPads for Scotland’s children?

But manifestos have their place. It’s the goal of campaigning organisations, especially the trade union movement, to influence and win commitments from parties come election time.


And then when they do ask us to mark a cross next to their name at the ballot box, we hold them to account for their promises given.

For our part, we’ve had success over the years and that’s been demonstrated in the offerings from the parties this time around. The Labour Party have been pushed every inch of the way by trade unions on their New Deal for Working People. If realised, the New Deal will be a transformative shot in the arm for labour rights in this country.

It's precisely one of the points we call for in our six-point plan for change launched last week. Every candidate across the country, naturally, will be committed to their own party's manifesto. But what about the manifesto of the people?

Trade union membership in Scotland, all 664,000 of us, are a mighty force to be reckoned with. Whilst we’ll have differing views on a whole range of matters, from the constitution to nuclear disarmament, you can back us all to be united around our core values: solidarity, fairness, equality, internationalism and respect.

It's the foundation on which we launched our six-point plan. Unsurprisingly, we’re putting the argument to strengthen worker’s rights at the top of the pile.  With more than 1 in 10 workers in insecure work, rising in-work poverty and low productivity, employment rights in this country need badly reformed.

The next UK Government, which polls suggest will be a Labour one should: repeal all anti-trade union legislation and fully implement a New Deal for Workers, including worker’s rights from day one, the end of fire and hire and a ban on zero-hour contracts.

Strengthening worker’s rights leads us to our next demand: the urgent need to tax wealth in our country. Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, for that matter, has it in abundance. There’s plenty to go around. To say otherwise is to ignore those who made a killing during the pandemic and whose rampant profiteering caused sustained inflation during the cost-of-living crisis. Scotland’s ten richest families alone are worth £23 billion. A modest 2% tax on those ten families could fund 10,000 public sector workers. While the Scottish Government must take action to replace the council tax with a proportional property tax, the UK Government must also take action, via wealth, windfall and income tax rises to ensure income is redistributed throughout the country.

That income must go to our public services and also go towards the investment needed in the green economy. Quite literally, hundreds of thousands of jobs could depend on it. With the right policies and funding in place, Scotland could see up to 367,000 jobs created as it decarbonises the economy. Since the beginning of this, now hopefully defunct Tory Government, over 50,000 public sector jobs have been lost in Scotland. Let’s not get bogged down in stats and numbers; each figure represents a worker who, through political decisions, has had their employment and life chances altered.


The next UK Government should increase public spending in key public services resulting in increased budgets, through Barnett consequentials, for public services in Scotland, enabling better service delivery and pay restoration. Better still, another point in our plan for change is to devolve further power to the Scottish Parliament. We must renew the devolution settlement and expand the tax, migration and employment law powers of the Scottish Parliament to better suit Scotland’s economic requirements.

Last but not least, we are a movement steeped in international solidarity and cooperation. An injury to one is an injury to all, after all. But even at a human level, one simply cannot ignore the genocide being inflicted upon the people of Palestine and assume we will stay silent when our politicians are asking for our votes. Action to prevent this genocide and uphold international law is urgently needed.

The next UK Government should support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, end arms sales to Israel and, amongst other measures, recognise the state of Palestine.

These are achievable measures that any candidate who proclaims to be on the side of working people should be able to back. Never mind betting at the bookies, the politicians should instead take a punt on us – Scotland’s workers.