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2019 General Election: a review of the manifestos from a Scottish perspective

Inevitably, the defining feature of all the manifestos this election is the spectre of constitutional change.

For the UK-wide parties this is an issue of Brexit (or stopping Brexit), whilst in Scotland there is the added question of independence.

Beyond these major constitutional debates, reading UK election manifestos can feel a strange business from a Scottish perspective. Most of the policy pledges relate to areas that are devolved, with the next Holyrood election not for another 18 months.

Nonetheless, these pledges will still have major implications for Scotland’s budget, whilst also framing the view of what policies might be politically viable here. This is true for spending commitments, but it is now increasingly true of tax policy too.

The choices facing the electorate are stark, not just on the constitution but also day-to-day tax and spending choices. It is no surprise that with so much uncertainty, Derek Mackay has shelved plans for a pre-Christmas Scottish Budget

So what do the manifestos imply for Scotland and the Scottish Budget?

The resource block grant

Many of the manifesto announcements proposed by the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats are devolved. This includes commitments on health, social care, education – including tuition fees – childcare and policing.

But the more Westminster spends on ‘comparable’ services in England, the larger the amount of money that will flow to Scotland’s block grant via the Barnett Formula.

Chart 1 shows the implications of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats manifesto pledges for the Scottish resource block grant (that is, monies to fund day-to-day public services as opposed to infrastructure investment).

Under the Conservative’s plans, the resource block grant will…

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