Nicola Sturgeon should hope that voters do not cast their ballot solely on the basis of her Government’s domestic record of the last five years.
In 2016, two years into the job as First Minister, Sturgeon cited education as her number one priority in Government.
The goal of the SNP, she said, would be to “substantially close” the attainment gap in the next Parliament.
This was the correct decision. Inequalities in school outcomes shame our country and result in children from poorer areas earning less and living shorter lives when adults.
By any objective yardstick, the gap has not closed “substantially” and the life chances of pupils are still largely determined by postcode.
The SNP manifesto launch - launched by Nicola Sturgeon today - promised to invest £1bn to “close the school attainment gap”. Cue a strong sense of deja vu.
On the health service, a promise to invest an extra £2.5bn over the next term will be welcomed by patients and staff, but the Government’s record on the NHS has been patchy.
According to Scottish Labour, the SNP missed their Treatment Time Guarantee for patients nearly 400,000 times.
Extra investment in the NHS is essential, but a significant amount of this new money will have to be spent on curing problems that built up before covid struck and worsened during the pandemic.
The SNP manifesto contains a range of welcome commitments, such as no NHS dental charges, doubling the Scottish Child Payment, tackling climate change and charting a different course on a range of areas to the UK Government.
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But on key bread and butter policies there has been a delivery deficit that spans the administrations of Salmond and Sturgeon.
On poverty, any Government serious about wanting to reduce inequality would put council tax abolition at the top of their list.
In 2007, the SNP promised to scrap the council tax. At yesterday’s launch, fourteen years later, Sturgeon vaguely promised that a “Citizens’ Assembly” would “consider the way forward”.
Legitimate questions will also be asked about how a re-elected SNP Government will find the money for the public spending rises.
At some point the UK and Scottish Governments will be presented with a bill marked “covid”, and it should be those with broadest shoulders who are asked to cough up.
However, the SNP manifesto does not back income tax rises for the rich and even supports a reduction in the Large Business Supplement.
These shortcomings will ultimately have no bearing on an election that may result in an SNP majority.
The country is split on the constitution and voting is linked to beliefs on Scotland’s place in the UK.
With support for independence running at 50% at least, Sturgeon’s party can rely on the backing of around half the population who will vote.
This perhaps explains why Sturgeon was so relaxed when she ran through the contents of the SNP manifesto.
She resembled a football manager giving a half time team talk when her side was five- nil up, with the opposition reduced to nine men.
The result is almost a foregone conclusion, but voters should still expect the gap between promise and delivery to be “substantially” closed over the next term.