Economy Takes Center Stage in Scottish Election


Representing a stark contrast between the parties, the Scottish National Party (SNP) stressed the importance private sector reforms, while the Scottish Labour Party promises an end to austerity. The general election will be held on May 7.

According to U.K. polling, no party is making headway over the other, with no clear sign of which one will win majority seats in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, one poll reveals that 52 percent of voters would support SNP over Labour, garnering support at 24 percent. According to Scottish polls, it appears the SNP is poised to win majority seats in the Scottish government.

Party Leaders Face Off

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie touted his party's plan of cutting the budget by 2018. However, he said there would be a balance between keeping the needs of the public in mind while cutting sensibly where necessary. He criticized Labour and SNP, believing these parties wish to cut and spend to the point of damaging the public service sector. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of SNP espouses a series of pro-business reforms meant to help the private sector and employees. Meanwhile, Tory party leader Ruth Davidson claims her party represents the majority view in Scotland, promising such things as keeping the United Kingdom together and reforming welfare.

United Kingdom on Troubled Waters

Regardless of the political rhetoric from all sides of the Scottish campaign, the parties need to tackle the issue of stagnant wages throughout the United Kingdom, and Scotland's fate ties into Britain as a whole. Scotland may be faring better than other nations in the British Isles, but U.K. workers face a depression in real wages lasting beyond 2017. In addition, the economy is predicted to fall short of its status before the economic crisis of 2008. A greater number of people in the workforce are responsible for slow wage growth, and more consumers have less money to spend. Further, the people hit hardest the most are young people contending with expensive housing and high unemployment levels.

Scottish Economy Begins Reverse Course

The election also comes on the heels of some recent economic setbacks. Scottish manufacturing reported a fall for the third month, partly stemming from declining demand in the energy industry. Manufacturers suffered a sudden fall in export orders not seen in over three years, and private sector activity fell in recent months. The hospitality and service sectors are also taking a hit from Scotland's lowered drinking while driving limit, which could place drivers in legal trouble if they have a single serving of wine or beer. Analysts remain hopeful going forward, but a combination of these factors can have wide-reaching consequences for the Scottish economy, and it remains to be seen if campaign promises and ideas will translate into action.