5 May 2015Manifestos of the Northern Ireland Parties
This website has already provided manifesto summaries for the larger Westminster parties standing across the UK. Some of these parties like the Conservatives, Greens and UKIP are fielding candidates in Northern Ireland. So with just a few days to go, here are some key policies and links to the manifestos of those parties unique to Northern Ireland (with Assembly representation) running in this Westminster Election.
Firstly though, you can tell a lot about a party by their manifesto tag-line. It's the one big message they want the public to associate
with their party in this election and here they are:-
Sinn Féin –Equality Not Austerity
Social Democratic and Labour Party - Prosperity Not Austerity
Ulster Unionist Party –Doing What's Right For Northern Ireland
Democratic Unionist Party –Standing Up for Northern Ireland
Alliance Party –Step Forward Not Back
Traditional Unionist Voice –The Real Alternative, Enough Is Enough
As the tag-line suggests, the Manifesto focuses on ending austerity, delivering a fair recovery, uniting communities through rights,
equality and respect and uniting Ireland. Sinn Féin are an abstentionist party which means their MP's will not actually take their seats in the British Parliament. Some notable policies include:-
-Re-negotiation with the British Government to secure additional £1.5bn to the NI budget.
-Full devolution of fiscal powers with financial benefits retained here.
-Full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.
-End of zero hours contracts.
-Moratorium on evictions for failure to pay mortgage arrears.
-Cut MLA's wages by 15%.
-Provide more childcare, capped at 15% of income for low-income earners.
-Propose a Bill of Rights in Northern and all-Ireland charter of fundamental rights.
-Support quotas for women in politics and public life.
-Support 'equal marriage' (we've heard in recent days through a proposed referendum).
-Oppose a referendum on exiting Europe.
-Campaign for Irish reunification.
Social Democratic and Labour Party
The history of the SDLP is all about civil rights and social equality so it's no surprise there is a strong anti-austerity focus from this
Nationalist party. The manifesto covers a very wide range of areas and is broken down into three core –jobs and the economy, a shared and safe community and a Northern Ireland that works. Some key policies include:-
-Further devolution of fiscal powers for Northern
-Focus job creation projects on SMEs.
-Reduce VAT to 5% in tourism and hospitality sectors
-Support rural schools and health centres to make sure rural communities well served.
-Fight to increase winter fuel payment to £500.
-Opposition to a European referendum.
-Increase preventative health care spending to 4% of health budget.
-Introduce a climate change bill to the Assembly and call for an all-island environmental protection agency.
-Irish Language Act in Westminster to cover retained powers like broadcasting.
-Extending devolution powers to include drug policy, national insurance and minimum wage, lottery spending etc..
-Support for same-sex marriage.
Ulster Unionist Party
With no current MP's the Ulster Unionist Party have casted this election as one day, one vote, one chance for change. They break their manifesto down into three key sections –A healthier people, a prosperous people, a happy people. Here are a few key policies:-
-Educating children from across the community together from four years old.
-Rebalancing the economy through debt reduction, increased productivity and talent retention in the public sector.
-Increased acute services and A&E services and consultant cover to 24 hours per day.
-Require all public bodies to set carbon emission reduction targets.
-Make it a requirement for private rental properties to have a minimum energy efficiency rating.
-Copy Scotland's lead where 80% of day to day school spending managed by principle.
-Expect a company receiving corporation tax benefit to pay living wage.
-Increase personal tax allowance to £12,500 and oppose 50% top rate tax above £150,000. Reduce VAT rate to 9% for hospitality
-Secure military covenant in NI and defence spending at 2%.
-Seeking to renegotiate relationship with Europe.
-Support lowering of voting age to 16.
Once again these are only a few policies from the party's manifesto which you can read here.
Democratic Unionist Party
The party and political commentators are making much of the fact that a block of DUP MP's could be influential in a hung parliament. The DUP have published their manifesto alongside their five point plan which details some of their demands in such an event. Some key policies from the manifesto are:-
-Abolishing air passenger duty.
-Measures to reduce childcare costs to 12% of family income.
-Feasibility study into a tunnel or enclosed bridge to Scotland.
-Display of Union flag every day from key public buildings.
-Guaranteed seat at Cabinet for NI Secretary of State.
-A new relationship between regions and UK Government.
-Legislation to reform the structure of government in NI.
-Banning all political donations from outside the UK.
-Referendum on EU membership
-Support to integrate migrants into local communities.
-Support for persecuted religious minorities abroad.
-UK-wide definition of a victim which excludes perpetrators.
-Law banning legal highs based on effects rather than chemical composition.
Again you can read more here in the manifesto and make up your own mind.
Core to the Alliance party has always been a cross-community vision for society. It's no surprise that the first of five priorities is to
promote integration and a shared future. Following is building a 21st century economy, investment in public service, protection of the environment and transformation of the political system. Here are some policies in detail:-
-20% of children in integrated education by 2020.
-Fly flags on designated days.
-Removal of 'bedroom tax' and reassessment of those on benefits with life-long illness/disabilities.
-Support for same-sex marriage provided there is protection for religious groups.
-Asking every public service to audit their services according to LGBT provision.
-Reduce voting age to 16.
-Support a UK-wide constitutional convention and further devolved powers for NI.
-Support UK remaining in the EU.
-Creating an opposition at Stormont, as per Stormont House Agreement, voluntary coalition and removal of petition of concern system.
-Transparency on all local political donations.
-Legal duty on UK Government to make sure economic policies are linked to reducing economic inequalities.
Traditional Unionist Voice
Again as the tag-line of the manifesto suggests, the TUV pitch themselves as an alternative to the other Unionist parties and the present system of government. The have one MLA and ambitious plans for MPs and more MLAs next year in the NI Assembly. The party revel in their opposition to the Executive Parties. Their manifesto is broad in range and some policies include:-
-Reform of the present system of 'mandatory coalition' in Stormont.
-Referendum on membership of Europe.
-An Australian-style points system for immigration.
-Lower taxes on fuel.
-TUV does not support the devolution of corporation tax.
-Opposition to any change in NI abortion law.
-Opposition to same-sex marriage.
-Like the DUP, they support the legal redefinition of 'victim' to exclude perpetrators.
-The flying of the Union flag on City Hall every day along with stronger British ties.
As with above you can find the party manifesto here.
There are of course other smaller parties and independents running in this election. We encourage everyone voting in Northern Ireland to familiarise themselves with all their local candidates and parties. Use your biblical understanding, your mind, your conscience and your vote responsibly on May seventh.