Cheesy pasta loving Gary Tank Commander wasn’t the only person poring over what each of Scotland’s political parties are offering us in advance of 5 May’s Scottish Parliament election.

The last few weeks have served up some intrigue at the ALLIANCE as we undertook a detailed analysis of what each party proposed about:

  • The NHS
  • Social Care
  • Local Government
  • Mental Health
  • …many, many more issues.

What is clear is that our 1,500 members, and the third sector more widely, is making an impact on the parties’ plans within the next term of the Scottish Parliament. During the long campaign over 80 election candidates, people with long term conditions, disabled people and unpaid carers have left comments on our 2 Million Expert Voices manifesto and we have highlighted the detailed calls to action made by our member organisations on a dedicated website.

Marie Curie’s proposal for a national adviser on steps to improve childhood bereavement services is one such example and is a welcome addition to the SNP’s manifesto, whilst Scottish Labour propose considering an end to social care charges – which has long been a priority for many of our members. Participatory budgeting, championed by a number of our members, has found support in the Scottish Greens’ manifesto which outlines their call for a Local Democracy Act to increase public participation in decision making processes.

You can also see the fingerprints of SAMH’s Ask Once, Get Help Fast campaign throughout the manifestos – with the Scottish Liberal Democrats dedicating a specific focus to mental health problems and calling for a widening of interventions including increased social prescribing.

We were delighted to note the strength of the SNP’s manifesto commitment in this area – particularly the proposal that 250 Community Links Workers would be recruited to work in GP surgeries and direct people to find local services and support. This is a credit to the work done through both the National Links Worker Project and the range of other community connector and links model projects operating across Scotland.

Such a role would have an incredible impact, including working to address the scourge of loneliness felt across Scotland’s communities. Both Labour and SNP propose a national strategies to tackle this crisis, following the lead of the Parliament’s inquiry into social isolation over the last couple of years.

Getting the most out of Scotland’s community pharmacy sector also appears to be a demonstrable theme within the priorities, following on from the Prescription for Excellence programme, with each party outlining strategies involving pharmacists in designing and delivering better services.

Plans for social security are also outlined in more depth – with the Conservatives, SNP, Labour and Lib Dems all proposing that Carers Allowance be increased to the same level of Jobseekers Allowance and proposals also outline how each party would make the most of new powers over Personal Independence Payments and various other benefits.

Whatever happens on 5 May, it is clear to see that the parties are now in listening mode. Now the real challenge begins – making it happen.

Andrew Strong, Policy and Information Manager, the ALLIANCE

Have your say on our 2 Million Expert Voices manifesto now

This blog was original published as an Alliance Viewpoint.