In advance of the General Election on Thursday 12th December, we look at each of the main political party commitments and why they want your vote. In this article, we look at the Scottish National Party:
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The SNP have pushed one core message throughout this election – namely that a vote for them will lock Boris Johnson out of Downing Street.
The party, which STV/Ipsos Mori polling suggests could have a 20-point lead ahead of the Tories in Scotland, have targeted increasing their previous 35 seats in Westminster and are standing in 58 of 59 constituencies.
This election is dealing with so-called ‘reserved’ matters – items which only Westminster has a say over, not the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast. This includes foreign policy, defence, benefits & social security, the constitution, trade and industry and immigration among other themes.
The NHS, education, local government, law and order, planning, housing, social care and the environment are examples of issues which are devolved to Scotland and therefore not likely to change immediately as a result of this Westminster election. The impacts of Brexit and independence will, however, have a significant impact on all aspects of life here and that’s why they feature so heavily in media reports.
On policy, the party is wants to stop Brexit – they want a second EU referendum with an option for ‘remain’ on the ballot paper and will support revoking Article 50 to avoid a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
The party wants a second independence referendum for Scotland and have said they will support a Jeremy Corbyn government if there’s a guarantee that Westminster will give Holyrood the powers necessary to hold a vote. However, Labour have said they do not consider this a priority within the ‘early years’ of a new government, albeit this time period has not been defined.
On welfare, the SNP want to end austerity and policies which push people into poverty, including the two child cap on tax credits, an end to the benefits freeze, a halt in the roll out of Universal Credit and they oppose any increase to the state pension age.
The SNP have been consistent in their opposition of nuclear weapons and say they would build cross-party consensus to scrap the UK’s nuclear submarine deterrent, Trident.
Securing the refund of £175million in VAT paid to HM Treasury by Scotland’s emergency services will also be a key priority for SNP MPs, as they also aim to scrap VAT on essential items such as children’s clothes.
The party would also seek to protect the NHS across the UK by introducing an Act in Westminster to exclude the service from being used in any future trade deals, for example with the U.S.
On LGBT+ and equality issues, the party published its LGBTI manifesto today, detailing several commitments to ensuring ‘world-leading’ policy in equality. They include:
- Opposing attempts to roll-back equality and human rights with Brexit, including attempts to scrap the Human Rights Act, withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights or weakening the Equality Act.
- Supporting gender ‘X’ on passports and all other records and identity documents, establishing a non-binary working group in Scotland.
- Pushing the UK government to ban LGBTI conversion therapies.
- Reform of the asylum system, to ensure LGBTI people fleeing persecution are not held in arbitrary detention.
- Calling for a special envoy to advance LGBTI rights around the world.
- Supporting PrEP roll-out in the rest of the UK, which Scotland already benefits from.
- Pressing for equality, employment and immigration powers to be devolved to Scotland so LGBTI rights can be fully protected.
- Embed LGBTI equality in a written constitution of an independent Scotland.
In a Scottish context, the party also re-states its intention to publish its draft Gender Recognition Bill by the end of this year, renewing its commitment to reforms to the GRA for trans people, and pressing the UK government to take the same action in England & Wales.
At the time of publication, 34 of 58 SNP candidates had signed the Equality Network’s LGBTI pledge.
The party’s LGBTI wing, ‘Out for Independence’, were contacted and provided this statement:
This week is a decisive time for Scotland.
With the twin threat of a Tory majority in Westminster and a hard Brexit from the European Union, our community is at risk of losing so many of our hard–won rights and protections at the hands of Boris Johnson’s Conservative party.
From his litigious comments about ‘tank–topped bumboys’ toStirling candidate Stephen’s appalling Commons voting record on equal rights, the Tories are no ally of LGBT+ people. This week we have an opportunity to send them amessage that Scotland’s LGBT+ community has had enough.
At the last election, the SNP came second in every seat the Conservatives hold Scotland, making the SNP the main challenger to Conservatism, Brexit, and austerity nationwide. To beat the Tories and protect our hard-won rights in Westminster, votes for SNP candidates are crucial.
Most equality legislation is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, where the SNP has a strong track record of delivering rights for LGBT+ people. The SNP governmentintroduced equal marriage in 2014, has delivered LGBT+ inclusive education in schools, made PrEP readily available to those who need it on the NHS, passed a bill pardoning men who have sex with men of convictions under laws that no longer exist, and will be bringing reforms to the Gender Recognition Act into the second stage in Holyrood by publishing legislation in the next few weeks. Contrast this with the rest of the UK, where legislation to change the GRA has been kicked into the long grass and the government has U-turned, refusing to respond to the first round of consultation.
The SNP Westminster group has committed to pushing for reforms of the detention and asylum system for LGBT+ refugees fleeing from countries where same-sex activity is still a criminal offence, and who are often deported by the Home Office for not adhering to LGBT+ stereotypes. Re-electing strong SNP MPs such as Alison Thewliss and Tommy Sheppard will also allow them to continue their vital work campaigning for drug use to be addressed as a public health issue with evidence-based policy, instead of following the ideological criminal justice approach to what is now a drugs crisis, blighting our community and cutting too many lives tragically short.
SNP MPs will also defend us against the potential rolling back of additional protections the European Union currently offers us, guaranteeing the European Convention of Human Rights is upheld and that people in Scotland can access justice through institutions such as the European Court of Justice. This body has upheld and extended LGBT+ rights across the EU, and which the Conservatives want to no longer have jurisdiction in the UK.
A vote for the SNP is a vote to protect the rights that LGBT+ people in Scotland hold dear, a message that voters in Scotland do not want to live in a society shaped by Conservative values, and a demand that Scotland’s right to decide on its own future be acknowledged. Vote SNP on Thursday, and help us make Scotland better.
Out for Independence
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said the country is at a crossroads and that a vote for the SNP will be a vote to advance equality:
“The SNP is committed to protecting Scotland’s future and securing full equality for LGBTI people. Equality and human rights are fundamental to our values as a progressive social Democratic Party – and we have a proud record of advancing and championing LGBTI rights.”
“Under the SNP government, Scotland has become the best country in the UK and one of the best in the world for LGBTI equality. We have delivered wholesale reform, including the most progressive equal marriage, hate crime and Turing laws in the UK, record funding for LGBTI organisations, and becoming the first country to commit to LGBTI inclusive education.”
“A vote for the SNP on 12th December is a vote to advance LGBTI equality, escape Brexit and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s. Together we can build a better, fairer and more equal future for Scotland.”
Pink Saltire are profiling the 5 main Scottish political parties in the General Election. Check our website for coverage of the Green, Lib Dem, Labour and Conservative commitments.