Manifestos are important. That is true even if we are sceptical about whether parties will keep their commitments. Manifestos are usually broad in scope but light on detail. They give shiny promises that are designed to be a hit with voters but, they are often vague on implementation and delivery.
That said, it is useful to have insight into each party’s priorities and a vision of how they intend to allocate their resources. It’s the general direction of travel.
So with that, it is terrific to see manifestos from all five of the larger political parties recognise the need for action on Scotland’s food system. Greens, SNP and Labour have committed to bringing forward a Good Food Nation Bill, and the Liberal Democrats will consult on one. The Conservativeswill, as an alternative to the Bill, conduct a “farm to fork” review of Scotland’s food policy.
See the table below for a summary of Parties’ food commitments for the 2021 Scottish elections
The manifestos show tangible results for the hard work of our members and supporters. These promises demonstrate greater awareness of food system issues and signal intent to act. There was even explicit mention of the Scottish Food Coalition. We have made our voices heard.
Not surprisingly, though, many unanswered questions remain. We will want to know, for example, what timeframes parties are working to. Timing is crucial as our food system is contributing towards the nature, climate and health crisis facing Scotland – urgent action is past due.
The manifestos show a lot of promise, and they make a lot of promises… but we’ve heard siren calls in the past. We had commitments to the Good Food Nation Bill in 2016 manifestos from SNP, Greens and Labour.
The last year has emphasised the importance of our food system more than most. As we look hopefully towards our COVID-19 recovery, policymakers and legislators must never again forget how integral our food system is for everyone’s wellbeing.