It’s that time of the month again – another election. They are becoming as frequent as a rainy Glasgow day, yet each time it’s important you are able to make an informed choice. Each party – from those already in Westminster to the Monster Raving Loony Party – releases a manifesto detailing what they’ll do should your precious vote spur that party to power. Many Glasgow University students live within the Glasgow North constituency and, here, qmunicate has summed up the five contesting parties’ manifestos, on the issues we think matter the most to students and young people.
Although all issues a government makes effect us in some way, we’ve chosen to narrow this down to the four Es: Europe, Education, Employment, Equality. Oh, and healthcare, too.
Who are the parties and the candidates for Glasgow North?
Conservative – CON: The Conservatives are the current party of government, led by Theresa May. In Scotland they are the second largest party at Holyrood and are led by Ruth Davidson. The candidate is Stuart Cullen. Click here for the full manifesto.
Labour – LAB: The Labour Party is led nationally by Jeremy Corbyn, and in Scotland by Kezia Dugdale. They are currently the official opposition at Westmisnter and the third biggest party at Holyrood. The Labour candidate, Pam Duncan-Glancy, is the only woman standing in the constituency. Click here for the full manifesto.
Liberal Democrats – LD: The Liberal Democrats were the fourth biggest party at Westminster and are the smallest party at Holyrood. Their national leader is Tim Farron and Scottish leader Willie Rennie. The candidate is Calum Shepherd. Click here for the full manifesto.
Scottish Greens – SG: The Scottish Greens are a separate party to the Green Party of England and Wales, so have never had an MP at Westminster. They have a co-leadership of the party and are the fourth biggest party at Holyrood. The candidate is Patrick Harvie, one of the two co-leaders. Click here for the full manifesto.
Scottish National Party – SNP: The SNP were the third biggest party at Westminster and are the current party of government at Holyrood. The leader is the current First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. The candidate is the former MP, Patrick Grady, who is standing for reelection. Click here for the full manifesto.
CON: Conservatives will build one hundred new ‘free schools’ a year, and no places will become available at schools rated ‘inadequate’ or worse until standards improve. Universities that wish to charge maximum tuition fees must play a role in financing new schools through sponsorship, and independent schools will assist in this funding. Grammar schools will be re-hauled with the possibility of being reintroduced in Scotland, with children able to join at any age.
LAB: Labour propose a ‘National Education Service’ for England, reinforcing principles from the NHS’s foundation in its practice. This would include an overhaul of childcare provisions, to free and lifelong education in colleges. For less well off sixteen year olds, the Education Maintenance Allowance would be restored, and at university level, tuition fees would be scrapped. Bursaries and funding for health degrees would also be reinstated.
LD: The Lib Dems are against expanding numbers of grammar schools on principle. They state that curriculum should include life skills, such as age-appropriate and inclusive sex and relationship education, first aid skills, and financial literacy. For university students, they plan to reinstate maintenance grants and encourage universities to engage in widening participation.
SG: The manifesto respects that education is devolved to the Scottish Government. The Greens would aim to protect studying abroad through the freedom of movement, and principles of free, inclusive education available at all stages of life.
SNP: The SNP pledge to extent early years education to 30 hours a week for three and four year olds, plus for vulnerable two year olds. They also stand against tuition fees at universities, and selective grammar schools in Scotland. They will fight for the continuation of EU-funded research at Scottish universities, plus remaining in programmes including ERASMUS+.
CON: The Conservatives will raise the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020 as a minimum wage for workers. Workers in the ‘gig economy’ will be protected by proposals outlined in an upcoming report.
LAB: Labour promise to ban zero-hours contracts and repeal the Trade Union Act. The minimum wage will be increased to the level of the living wage for all workers over 18, equating to £10 an hour by 2020. There will also be a maximum pay ratio in the public section at a rate of 20:1 between the highest and lowest earner in a company. There will also be action against companies forcing employees into self employment, with a commission formed to modernise employment status law.
LD: The Lib Dems plan to establish an independent review into a living wage. This would then be paid in central government departments and public sector employers would be encouraged to follow suit. There would be requirements for larger employers to publish figures including employees earning below the living wage, and the ratio between top and median pay. They want to modernise rights for the ‘gig economy’, and reform zero hours contracts.
SG: The Greens believe that age-related minimum wage is discriminatory and would scrap this in favour of a real Living Wage of £10 an hour by 2020. They also support laws to limit pay gaps between highest and lowest paid workers in a company. They plan to phase in a thirty-five hour working week and scrap zero hours contracts.
SNP: The SNP support scrapping zero hours contracts and a move towards the real Living Wage, with transition to replace the minimum wage with a living wage for adults over 18. They will support the reintroduction of the post-study work visa for international students. They will urge the UK government to abandon plans to close Jobcentre Plus centres – plans which include half of all Glasgow centres – plus propose joint governance over Jobcentres.
CON: The Conservatives address inequality in gender, race, mental health and disability. There will be requirements to publish data on pay gaps between men and women in large companies, and help for companies to provide flexible parental working environments. There will be enforcement of equalities law to prosecute business owners who deny service based on identity. There will be a new Mental Health Bill introduced, and provisions for one million more people with disabilities to enter work.
LAB: Labour pledge specifically regarding gender, LGBT and racial equality, plus equality for people with disabilities. These include: extending the right to abortion for those in Northern Ireland; establishing a violence against women commissioner; reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2010; inclusive sex and relationships education; rollout of HIV prevention medication; introducing equal pay audits; signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into UK law; full status for British Sign Language as a recognised language.
LD: The Lib Dems plan to diversify public life as well as business, for example, by requiring all companies with over 250 employees to publish data on gender, BAME and LGBTI employment figures and pay gaps, extending name-blind recruitment in the public sector, and pushing for 40% of board members being women in FTSE 350 companies. Other pledges include the freedom to wear religious dress, a provisional review of blood donation bans and introducing mixed-sex civil partnerships.
SG: The Greens support remaining in the European Convention of Human Rights and will oppose efforts to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. They will also abolish the ‘family cap’ and the ‘bedroom tax’. They propose a universal basic income for all citizens and the end of benefit sanctions.
SNP: The SNP will continue to campaign against the ‘rape clause’ in the benefits system, which forces women to prove that they were raped. They also propose sanctions for companies with more than 150 employees who do not address gender, race and disability pay gaps. They hope that the UK recognises British Sign Language as a UK language, to campaign for devolution of equality law, and to ensure that all LGBTI people are protected from discrimination here and around the world.
CON: The Tories see leaving the EU as an opportunity to open new trade agreements, both within and outwith the EU. There is the possibility for greater devolution following leaving the EU. There will be no referendum on Scottish independence until following Brexit, and there must be public consent for such a vote. No deal from the European Union is better than any bad deal offered.
LAB: Labour will respect the referendum result but reverse some plans already in place, such as replacing the Great Repeal Bill with an EU Rights and Protections Bill, ensuring that there is no change to workers’ rights, equality law nor environmental protections. The rights of EU citizens will be guaranteed in the UK while also securing reciprocal rights for UK citizens living in the EU. Labour will build a cooperative relationship, ‘not as members but as partners’, with the EU to tackle cross-border issues.
LD: While respecting the ‘Leave’ vote, the Lib Dems want a second referendum on the deal’s terms. This will provide the option of also staying as an EU member. They support the unilateral guarantee for EU citizens in the UK, retaining freedom of movement and membership of the single market and commons union, and protecting the Erasmus+ scheme amongst others. They will oppose decisions made that will threaten Northern Irish political stability.
SG: The Scottish Greens respect Scotland’s vote to stay in the EU in 2016 therefore believes it should have the option to remain. It believes the ‘No’ result in the 2014 referendum is incompatible with the ‘Remain’ result, therefore there should either be a referendum on the terms of a ‘hard Brexit’ or for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU. Freedom of movement, environmental protections, data protection and workers’ rights must be retained in any Brexit deal. The Greens note that issues such as instability and inequality ‘do not respect borders’ and cooperation through EU membership helps to tackle them.
SNP: The SNP support the principle of remaining in the Single Market, even if Scotland does leave the EU along with the UK, and a further independence referendum when the terms of Brexit are fully known. They demand either the right to remain for EU citizens in the UK, or the devolution of immigration powers to give nationals greater certainty. An independent Scotland would be an EU member, and the terms for membership will be sought before any referendum.
CON: The NHS will be funded accurately over the course of the next parliament, including building and upgrading current facilities. The Immigration Health Surcharge will be increased to £450 for international students and £600 for migrant workers, and costs will be recuperated for non-residents accessing the service. There will be evening or weekend appointments available at GP practices across the UK by 2019.
LAB: Labour pledge A&E waits within four hours and access to treatment within eighteen weeks, and to address ‘postcode lotteries’ in accessing services and medication. There will be focus in particular on the link between child ill-health and poverty, including increased health visitors and school nurses. Labour will also make sure that mental health funding is spent solely on those services and is no longer used to fund services across the NHS, and that a counselling service is available for all children in secondary school.
LD: The Lib Dems state that there must be parity between mental and physical health, including reduced waiting times for mental health treatment in line with physical health care. Furthermore, they want to better integrate health and social care, in turn limiting the amount elderly people pay for social care. A penny rise in income tax, guaranteed only for NHS funding, will finance the system. Long term care includes tackling obesity, making HIV prevention drugs available, and a review of health promotion campaigning.
SG: The manifesto notes that healthcare is a devolved issue to the Scottish Government. They state that they support a free-at-use NHS and propose to extend this to social care.
SNP: The SNP is against further privatisation of NHS England and will vote to reverse the service to be fully public. They plan to work on a cross-party basis to support any NHS Reinstatement Bill. Finally, they will call for tightened regulations regarding food labels, food advertising, and closing loopholes in the ‘sugar tax’.
Hopefully we’ve helped to simplify a few of main policy areas to students. However you plan to vote this week, make sure you get out and vote! (If you’re voting Tory, the polls open on Friday 9th…)