Examining the 2015 General Election Party Manifestos

In the run up to the General Election on May 7th, the National AIDS Trust and HIV Scotland have published five key things we want to see from the next government, to improve the lives of people living with and at risk of HIV.

To see what each party said about these issues, and learn what they might do in government, we read the party manifestos. This is where the parties set out their priorities and commitments.

Before you cast your vote, take a look at what we want to see, and what each party commits to do on these issues.

What we want the next government to do

NAT and HIV Scotland Election 2015 Asks

  1. Retain the protections set out in the Human Rights Act
  2. Introduce compulsory Sex and Relationships Education for all schools, which is inclusive of young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and has appropriate sexual health and HIV content – in the first session of the new Parliament.*
  3. Make HIV prevention a national public health priority, with effective funding, more varied testing options and access to the full range of prevention information and choices for all who need them.*
  4. End HIV stigma in the NHS and social care through the training of all NHS and care staff.*
  5. Ensure that people affected by HIV-related sickness or disability have the support they need by committing to the Disability Benefits Consortium’s Five Things You and Your Party Can Do For Disabled People.

(*These are devolved areas so Westminster policy will affect England only.)

Ask 1: The Human Rights Act

Both the Conservative Party and UKIP have expressed intentions to change the Human Rights Act, and to break the link between the UK and the European Court of Human Rights.

The Conservative manifesto pledges scrap the Human Rights Act and introducing a British Bill of Rights. The manifesto claims that this bill will remain faithful to the basic principles of human rights, but says it will ‘reverse the mission creep that has meant human rights law being used for more and more purposes, often with little regard for the rights of wider society.’

UKIP pledges to replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights, claiming that it will ‘encapsulate all the human and civil rights that UK citizens have acquired under law since Magna Carta’.

All of the other major parties commit to protecting the Human Rights Act:

  • The Liberal Democrats commit to protecting the Human Rights Act and complying with decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights.
  • The Labour manifesto notes the ‘powerful means of redress’ afforded to citizens, including vulnerable groups, by the Human Rights Act, which it will protect. They intend to reform the European Court of Human Rights.
  • The Green Party commits to reinstating the funding for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, while the Scottish Greens celebrate the Human Rights Act.
  • Plaid Cymru notes its support of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights, and that it will oppose any moves to withdraw from these.
  • The SNP manifesto also commits to opposing the scrapping of the Human Rights act and withdrawal from the European Court of Human Rights.

Ask 2: Sex and Relationships Education

Several of the party manifestos commit to the provision of sex and relationship education.

Note: education in Scotland is an issue that is under the control of the Scottish Parliament ('devolved'), so the policy of Westminster governments will not have direct effect in Scotland.

  • The Green Party manifesto commits to providing ‘mandatory HIV, sex and relationship education – age appropriate and LGBTIQ inclusive – in all schools from primary level onwards.’
  • Sex and relationships education is included within the Liberal Democrats ‘minimum curriculum entitlement’, to be taught in all state-funded schools.
  • The Labour party manifesto commits to introducing compulsory, age-appropriate sex and relationships education.
  • Plaid Cymru states that all children and young people should receive comprehensive healthy relationships education.
  • UKIP, in their manifesto, support age-appropriate sex and relationships education but not at primary school level. They state that parents must be made aware of the teaching materials being used before they are seen by their children, and that parents should be able to withdraw their children from sex education classes.

Ask 3: HIV Prevention

None of the party manifestos directly refer to HIV prevention within the UK. However, the Liberal Democrat manifesto, in discussing international development, pledges to “invest to eliminate within a generation preventable diseases like TB, HIV and malaria and explore new ways to support public and private research into treatment for these and other deadly diseases and infections.”

Note: health (and most prevention work) in Scotland is an issue that is under the control of the Scottish Parliament ('devolved'), so the policy of Westminster governments will not have direct effect in Scotland.

Ask 4: HIV Stigma in the NHS and social care

None of the party manifestos make specific mention of HIV stigma in the NHS.

Ask 5: Disability Support

The Disability Benefits Consortium’s Five Things You and Your Party Can Do For Disabled People asks the next government to recognise the extra costs that disabled people must pay, and tackle this financial disadvantage; to ensure appropriate support for disabled people to work and security for those who cannot work; to change the way society talks about welfare; to ensure spending on financial support for disabled people is based on need and not on pre-determined limits; and to ensure that a person’s disability does not lead them to be disproportionately affected by policy decisions.

  • Plaid Cymru says it will help those who struggle to find work, including those with disabilities, by focusing on what they can do on a day to day basis. They also pledge to help families with disabled children.
  • The SNP manifesto pledges to seek a reversal of the replacement of Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments; to oppose the £3 billion cut in disability funding; and to support an urgent review of the system of assessments for disability benefits.
  • In their manifesto, the Conservative party notes that they will halve the disability employment gap. Elsewhere, they say that they will help people with long-term yet treatable conditions back into work. If someone refuses a recommended treatment that would help them return to work, they will review whether their benefits should be reduced.
  • The UKIP manifesto commits to protecting the rights of disabled people and to ending ‘ATOS-style Work Capability Assessments’ and returning to assessments by GPs or appropriate specialist consultants.
  • There is a commitment in the Green Party manifesto to the social model of disability, recognizing the right of people who are disabled to participate fully in society. They support an end to the system of ‘fit for work’ assessments and a return to reliance on the judgements of GPs and other health professionals; and an increase in the budget for Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payments.
  • Labour commits to reforming the Work Capability Assessment and giving an independent scrutiny group of disabled people a central role in monitoring it. They will also introduce a specialist support programme to provide more tailored help for disabled people who can work.
  • The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to ‘improve the benefits system for disabled people, based on the principle of one assessment, one budget’. They will also invest to clear any backlog in assessments for Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payments and simplify back to work support.

Your Vote Matters

Your vote matters: which of these commitments will be realised depends on the results of the General Election on May 7th. The next government has the power to improve the lives of people living with and at risk of HIV. To learn more about voting and the election, read our quick guide.

Don’t forget to vote on May 7th, and make your voice heard on the issues that matter to you.