The Greens have launched their manifesto today, competing manfully for media space alongside the other big #sp11 news today – that of the Sun’s backing for the SNP. It is a shame to see the launch as the 5th biggest story in Scotland today (The Sun/SNP endorsement is 2nd). Did the Nats deliberately stymie the Green launch by having both announcements on the same day? Let’s be honest, touché if so. All’s fair in love, war and election campaigns.

So, what are we being offered from the Greens then? Well, quite a lot actually:

– a Land Value Tax (as previously discussed several times on this blog so no need to rehash)
– scrap the additional Forth Road Bridge and Aberdeen bypass, saving £1.8bn for public spending
– 0.5p added to the Scottish Variable Rate from 2013, raising £200m+ a year
– A stronger budget focus on transport, affordable housing, free education and an insulation programme
– Commitment to large scale ecosystem restoration projects

It is the detail of the tartan tax policy that has really floated by wave turbine though. Someone earning £20k a year will pay £1.20/week more in income tax, someone earning £45k a year will pay £3.60/week more. Potentially provocative, yes, but also proactive and progressive. There can be no easy solutions when you’re budget is set to be slashed by 12.5%, even if other parties seem to think there is.

No-one wants to pay more tax, particularly when, as before, there is no figure applied to that warning and the imagination is free to picture cash slipping away. However, we now have a figure to focus on and £1.20 – £3.60 per week is about the equivalent of a pint. Would you buy a pint for the unemployed? For the poverty-stricken? For the students? For the senior citizens? The upsides arguably indirectly extend to lower crime, better health and higher education standards too. I don’t know how we can shirk our duty not to do this.

We are after all already missing important opportunities. Tesco has just announced multi-billion quarterly profits (the shopping giant makes £10m profit a day) but the Scottish Parliament (Lab/LD/Con) still wimped out of making such large businesses contribute a little bit more to the tax intake. The debate over tuition fees has been miserably disingenuous; the average fees in England are not at around £8,700 but Scottish parties are still claiming that the funding shortfall will be £90m a year (a figure based on average English fees at ~£7,000).

We aren’t really any further forward with properly insulating our homes either, an investment that would save families money through power bills which, in turn, frees up money for the family purse and Council Tax rises etc. The Greens had a substantial budget proposal on the table a couple of years ago but politics got in the way once again and the SNP rebuffed the offer. Claim and counter-claim ensued but that doesn’t change the fact that it would take 200 years to insulate the nation. Not good enough. How can we pass up win-win-win opportunities like this? There must be a way, a political will to get this done. Indeed, the big issue of this election so far is the Council Tax freeze but what would save people more money, better insulation or no rises in Council Tax? Worth exploring I reckon.

The use of the SvR is the big one for me though and, those who can pay, paying a bit more those who can’t. It’s not a big sacrifice to make and it starts way off in 2013 (assuming the coalition follows through with its intention of more, deeper cuts). I am glad that one of the political parties had the guts to put this revenue-raising option to the people, it is a policy that goes right to the heart of the kind of nation that I certainly want Scotland to be more like so let’s see how Scots take to it.

Oh, and the Greens are in favour of independence too.