The SNP are not Nationalist. The party does not hold Nationalist beliefs or try to enact Nationalist policies, in fact their goals are almost totally opposed to that of any capital-n Nationalist. There is one reason the SNP do not join the rest of mainstream western politicians with shouting from the rooftops about how dangerous and extreme Nationalism is, and it is because they benefit from fooling people into believing they are Nationalists.
The manifesto is pretty pathetic as far as they go and not worth wasting time analysing for you, but parts of it are useful to make a larger point; go read it if you're interested. What I'll say is the introduction to the manifesto does a great job of setting the tone of the whole thing - whining about Westminster, the EU referendum and the Tories. There's brief lip-service to a democratic will of the country but is clearly in the context of remaining in the EU because this aligns with the SNP's ideals rather than being important for its own sake. There's also some very deliberate and awkward-sounding word choice in there,
Notice its theIn any discussion, we will demand that the democratic right of people in Scotland to decide their own future is respected.
right of the people in Scotlandrather than the more natural-sounding
people of Scotland, because the SNP have no allegiance to the Scottish people at all, rather they have an allegiance to getting voted into power next election, and have taken steps to undermine the democracy of Scots by opening voting rights to anyone in the country (that is, physically located within the borders at the time of an election) who now owe their very enfranchisement a certain party who can count on these secured foreign votes.
Also note how this shows that the issue of democracy only comes up due to its immediate expediency of (hopefully) delaying departure from the EU, democratic will is clearly unimportant when it is the will of Britain rather than Scotland. This could be excused since this is kind of what you'd expect from a Scottish nationalist and yet they are totally content to allow non-Scots to vote provided they happen to be inside the country. If enough English voters moved to Scotland to tip the referendum towards the leave vote, I think Sturgeon would not be so quick to talk about democracy or the "people in Scotland".
Even putting aside the concerns for nationalism that joining an extra-national body previously shown to be hostile to nationalistic interests in the past bring, the SNP are very hostile to the idea of either leaving or, once outside, not re-joining the EU.
They do this because they want to appeal to the largest voter base possible and know a majority
A favourite lie of the SNP is that "Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU". Due to first past the post, the reader would be forgiven for thinking the map opposite represents that very fact, but if you click on the image you can find the full, actual results. With a turnout of 67%, 62% of voters chose to remain, and 38% of voters chose to leave. This is not anywhere close to an "overwhelming" majority, its not even an actual majority of the electorate - taking 62% of 67% we can see that a little over two fifths (41.5%) of eligible voters chose to remain, whereas about a quarter (25.5%) chose to leave (this leaves a third not voting). Due to the distribution of votes and the first past the post system, this has come out as if the whole country unanimously decided to stay. Regardless of your opinion on the referendum or what result you would have preferred I think anyone can agree this is a serious blow to the credibility of "democracy" in the country, when an entire 38% of the voting public are snuffed out in the final results. Nevertheless, Sturgeon will continue to champion her "democracy" and insist everyone else is in fact the anti-democrat, not her!
You only have to take a skim over the manifesto to realise there's a fairly big problem: for a Scottish nationalist group, the SNP spend an awful lot of time talking about another country's parliament. Half the manifesto is dedicated to whining about Westminster's policies (or if it doesn't have relevant policies, it'll bemoan the lack of them). I can't overstate how bad this is, it sounds really obvious when you spell it out but it is essential for any Nationalist movement to have a positive vision and have ideas of what they want to accomplish with power. Without this the movement will surely fail (at any nationalistic goals, anyway). If you need any physical evidence of this you can take a look at our neighbour Ireland where their nationalism is so diluted and corrupted, their sense of national identity is losing meaning and devolved to a search for approval from an international community (Keith Woods has made excellent analyses of this situation), their conservatism conserves little and their progressivism infects any movement not steeled against it; its in a sort of frankenstein position where they have lost any and all tenets of Nationalism besides a pretty watered down idea of independence which of course involves massive dependence on the international community and extranational organisations such as the EU or UN. I think we could come up with a better name for this type of ideology to avoid confusion, dependencyism is a bit too cumbersome so we'll go for Vassalism, I think it really drives home the problems inherent in its approach.
One of their "three P"s is "population" and of course instead of the immediately obvious approach of increasing birth rates these Nationalists, for some strange, unknowable, unfathomable, indescribable reason *wink wink* have opted for massively increasing the immigration rate. Encouraging a stable and increasing national population is clearly beyond, you know, the government so we get this quick-fix that surely will not present any problems down the line instead. We get the explicitly admitting to this claiming that in the next 25 years, all of the country's population growth is to come from migration, and deliberately confuse asylum and immigration so they can play their motte and bailey word game where on one hand they demand less strict immigration on humanitarian grounds and on the other are forced to admit this is in fact for financial reasons.
In the manifesto, this is followed by a funny bit where they brag about Scotland having the highest rate of workers earning their "real Living Wage", and then in the next paragraph admit that "most powers over employment and the economy remain reserved to the UK government"; followed by more hilarity as they claim "As Scotland has begun to demonstrate with the limited powers we have, a more equal economy generates more stable, sustainable growth, at lower social costs and greater wellbeing." I mean... No?
You might want to re-read that. I know I did; that's a little over half, half of the UK's total deficit is just Scotland. In fact, put into other words despite only presiding over only 8% of the British population, Holyrood accounts for over 53% of the deficit! That's an expensive living wage, isn't it; I suppose we might have found our reason why Westminster is reluctant to grant them more economic control.Scotland's notional deficit stood at £12.6bn or 7% of GDP, including North Sea oil revenues, compared with the UK's total £23.5bn deficit, which includes Scotland's figure.
Tourism is no industry to run a nation on, no matter how immediately it might fulfill financial needs, its fundamentally an industry incapable of producing great things. Instead of taking our departure from the EU, and the subsequent shrinking of the tourist economy as a blessing (perhaps in disguise), of course we must panic and try to reverse this action because the money-number went down, and we can't have that! I don't think a slightly and temporarily declining GDP should be a massive concern to a government that has proven itself capable of spending well beyond its means to support the population, especially if it results in more productive industries taking the place of the previous.
I've refrained from pointing out flaws in the SNP that I believe are present in all or most political movements in Britain, such as their addiction to government spending, overbearingly progressive social bent and frankly disgusting plans for monetising the Scottish countryside and natural beauty. I'm sure you can think of plenty problems with all of them from your own political inclinations, whether they're all tax-collecting thieves, they all support the evil of private property or they're all Freemasons who worship the antichrist - whatever; what is important is that the SNP are lying to the people and misrepresenting their own policies in a way that is unique in the country.
Sometimes they'll forget the mask and just come out and say that they're internationalists and think we should all be global citizens, but these moments are either carefully directed or buried in a mountain of fake-nationalist talk. Its important to recognise these people are friends to neither side of the international vs national debate, its purely expedience and convenience that guides their (currently neoliberal) policies.
Having said a lot, I would like to say I am sure there are many Nationalists in the SNP that are caught up in the party line, or simply suppressed in national discussion by the party; I have nothing against these people and really none of it is personal at all. The fact is, however, they're in this organisation and are either not trying or a very ineffective at reforming it, my advice would be to just leave and campaign on true Nationalism, the voter base is there.