A TAX on big whisky, a pause to plans for a National Care Service, and council tax reform form the basis of some of the “ten key questions” which the SNP’s largest affiliate body has put to the three leadership candidates.

Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes, and Ash Regan have been challenged to come up with answers to the ten questions posed by the SNP Trade Union Group (SNPTUG) before party members vote for their choice of leader.

READ MORE: Referendum is not 'gold standard' on independence question, Ash Regan says

Freeports, climate change, and making sure Scotland’s vast renewable potential benefits the public good and does not see profits “extracted by foreign owners and private shareholders” also form part of the questioning.

It also comes ahead of a key hustings, run by the SNPTUG in conjunction with The National, which will see the leadership hopefuls challenged on similar issues.

The ten key questions for the SNP leadership hopefuls

Question One: How will you develop an industrial and economic strategy to take Scotland towards self-determination, both politically and economically, given the current threats from the UK Government and the dangers of losing assets to overseas control?

Question Two: How will you go about addressing industrial disputes, increasing the income and standards of living of the majority of Scots, seeking to give Fair Work real teeth, and supporting trade union rights and participation in the face of relentless attacks from Westminster?

Question Three: How will you resist and refuse (including a potential legal challenge) the imposition of fabricated “minimum service levels” on striking workers in public services across Scotland, given the current intentions of the UK Government?

Question Four: Will you pause and reconsider the National Care Service Bill, in line with the open letter request submitted to the Scottish Government, as organised by the STUC and supported by a wide range of civic, charitable and expert organisations, including the SNP Trade Union Group?

Question Five: Will you ensure that ongoing ScotWind negotiations guarantee that offshore wind revenues are maximised for Scottish public good, and not extracted by foreign owners and private shareholders? Will you ensure that future offshore options auctions are not price-capped, so as to realise better value for Scotland's resources, such as was achieved in New York and elsewhere?

The National: A range of international giants are competing for acreage in the ScotWind offshore licensing round Picture: Getty Images

Question Six: Can you tell us your proposed timetable for the Citizens’ Assembly on local authority finances and Council Tax reform, and the implementation of those reforms? Will you commit now to implementing the recommendations of that Assembly to the greatest possible extent?

Question Seven: Will you conduct a review of port governance – including Freeports – as agreed overwhelmingly by SNP Conference in 2021?

Question Eight: Will you commit to a feasibility study on developing a levy to capture a proportion of the £34 billion annual production value of whisky, and other spirits produced in Scotland, only 8% of which is currently subject to any levy by the UK treasury?

Question Nine: The UK Climate Change Committee has repeatedly stated that the Scottish Government is behind on meeting its climate targets, and that even if all of its stated climate policies are met, the targets themselves are too low to meet Paris Accord commitments. What will you do to close these gaps? Will you implement the Just Transition roadmap and jobs register supported overwhelmingly by SNP Conference in 2021?

Question Ten: Are you prepared to engage with the Scottish Trades Union Congress on concrete revenue-generating proposals for the short- and medium-term proposed in the January 2023 STUC report on land, tax and assets?

It is understood that the three SNP MSPs bidding to be the next first minister were sent the questions late on Sunday evening.

SNPTUG convener Bill Ramsay told The National: “We realise that questions are coming at the candidates from all angles in a packed hustings and media interview process. But because of the immense importance of these particular issues and their resonance with the whole trade union movement, we are pressing these issues in particular. We hope to have clear responses by the time the members’ vote opens.”

The SNPTUG has also laid down five “ambitious aspirations” which they say will help to reframe the debate around independence “in a way that can build support sustainably towards 55% of the electorate and more”.

These are:

  • a strong, dependable NHS and high-quality public services.
  • a wellbeing economy that offers decent, secure work and conditions.
  • educational and creative opportunities for all.
  • a liveable environment for us, and for our children’s future.
  • power to change things locally as well as nationally through deep investment and democratic accountability.

The SNP TUG, which represents some 12,000 members, said: “The short-, medium- and long-term policies and strategies of our party, and of a government led by the SNP, need to be developed towards the realisation of these goals and a better Scotland.

“That includes developing coherent and interlocking industrial, anti-poverty and Green New Deal strategies for our nation, as part of the drive to reconnect with Europe on a progressive platform and relationship.”