SNP wants research institutions and the private sector to collaborate and commercialise innovations but won’t back any ‘Snooper’s Charter’
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has vowed to foster technological innovation and to support startups in its manifesto for the 2015 General Election.
The party, which is competing only for seats in Scotland, said it would make Scotland the best place to do business in the UK thanks to a competitive tax environment, business policies, financial assistance and closer collaboration between academic institutions and the commercial sector.
“We recognise and applaud the vital part played by our universities in creating world-leading research, including in areas of cutting-edge science and technology, and boosting both Scotland’s international profile and innovation base,” said the party’s manifesto. “We will continue to work closely with our universities to maintain their position of global excellence.”
The best place for business
The SNP want to transfer this knowledge from the country’s academic research base to the wider business community. Growing Scottish companies would have access to funding from the Scottish Business Development Bank, while the country’s burgeoning video games industry would continue to benefit from tax relief and the creation of a new Creative Content Fund to establish new studios.
The party also pledged to increase the size and talent pool available to the technology and creative industries with 30,000 new apprenticeships, free university education and post-study visas for graduates who want to stay.
“We know that building a high-skill, connected Scotland is essential if we are to maximise our nation’s economic potential,” said the SNP. “That is why we are investing in our people, infrastructure and assets.”
Rural businesses would also be supported with better broadband mobile coverage. Existing government-funded projects are currently targeting 95 percent fibre coverage by 2017, but the SNP wants to expand that further.
“We will seek additional investment to support a more rapid roll out of superfast broadband and 4G across Scotland and to support wider and affordable access to the internet in our most disadvantaged communities, and for a Universal Service Obligation to be applied to telecoms and broadband providers ensuring everyone is able to access the communications they need,” it said.
Access to the Internet would be boosted through programmes tackling digital exclusion as well as £1.5m to increase the provision of Wi-Fi in public buildings. The SNP supports the concept of a BBC licence fee, which has been “top-sliced” by the current UK government to support broadband rollout, but it wants to see more of the money go to BBC Scotland to support the local creative industry.
Energy and security
The party has said it will vote for the UK government to adopt “ambitious” carbon reduction targets and wants Scotland to take the lead in offshore wind technology. It will also support other renewable sources such as onshore wind and hydro, but conversely it will also call on Westminster to “do all it can” to protect jobs and investment in the oil and gas industries.
On the issue of security, the party wants more measures taken to protect Scotland against cyberterrorism, but it is adamant that these should not come at the expense of citizens’ privacy.
“The forthcoming UK Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) must take full account … of the need to be more effective at combatting cyber-terrorism where the SDSR must lay out a clear strategy,” said the manifesto. “We do not support Tory plans for the reintroduction of the so-called ‘snoopers’ charter’, which would see all online activity of every person in the UK stored for a year. Instead, we need a proportionate response to extremism.
“That is why we will support targeted, and properly overseen, measures to identify suspected extremists and, if necessary, examine their online activity and communications.”
Who are you backing in the 2015 General Election?
- Conservatives (32%)
- Labour (27%)
- UKIP (17%)
- SNP (10%)
- Green Party (5%)
- Liberal Democrat (3%)
- I'm not voting (3%)
- Undecided (2%)
- Plaid Cymru (1%)
- Other (0%)
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