Examining the Scottish 2016 election manifestos

Ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary election on 5th May, HIV Scotland and the National AIDS Trust have published five HIV calls for the next Scottish Government. These calls reflect the diverse range of priorities people living with or at risk of HIV have.

To see what each party said about these issues, and what pledges they made should they form the next Scottish Government, we read the manifestos. Where applicable, we have summarised what the parties have said in regards to our election calls. The pledges by the parties are in random order and have been summarised in a politically neutral stance.

This guide has been designed to help you see where the main parties stand on the issues that matter to people affected by HIV.

Educate

  • Scottish Greens have committed to ensuring all schools provide relationship, sexual health and parenthood education which is LGBTI+ inclusive, as well as increased resources for teacher training to address homophobic bullying.
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats have pledged to support effective training of school staff to support LGBTI young people in schools, and make sure sexual health, parenthood and relationships education is LGBTI inclusive in all schools.
  • Scottish Conservatives have called for further progress on equalities in schools, with a particular focus on LGBT discrimination. They pledge to develop a toolkit, in partnership with the third sector, for teachers to feel more confident about dealing with homophobic and transphobic bullying.
  • The SNP have committed to promoting healthy relationships and anti-bullying through refreshed age-appropriate strategies and resources, including promoting an inclusive approach to sex and relationships education. They also pledge additional funding to address bullying, with a view that all teachers will eventually participate in training.
  • Scottish Labour have pledged that all young people, regardless of location, will have access to consistent sex education which considers LGBTI relationships and sexual health.

Empower

  • Scottish Liberal Democrats have committed to extending the rights of disabled people by empowering them and supporting individual autonomy. In addition, the party promises to address hate crime and ensure training is provided to frontline professionals so they can always provide equal access for diverse groups of people.
  • Scottish Greens have pledged to create a new strategy for inclusion, aimed at addressing exclusion that disabled people face across social, economic and political life in Scotland. The party commits to strengthening the Public Sector Equality Outcomes, the devolution of equalities law and a rights-based approach within the justice system on equalities issues.
  • Scottish Labour have committed to protecting the Human Rights Act and to enshrine the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.
  • The SNP have pledged to embed Scotland’s National Action Place for Human Rights in the National Performance Framework, and for all public bodies to evaluate their policies against duty to reduce inequalities. Moreover, a Fairer Scotland Action Plan will be produced.

Protect

  • Scottish Liberal Democrats have pledged to support access to PrEP for those most at risk of HIV and increasing funding for primary care.
  • Scottish Greens have promised to examine ways in which drugs can be made available to the NHS at the lowest price and extend the HPV vaccination to all young people, irrespective of gender. Moreover, they pledge to address barriers to healthcare that LGBTI+ people face, in particular for the transgender community.
  • The SNP notes that there is “no room for complacency” on HIV and supports research in HIV prevention, including considering the availability of PrEP.
  • Scottish Labour states there is “compelling evidence” regarding the effectiveness of PrEP. The party commits to establishing a review into prescribing PrEP as a priority.

Support

  • Scottish Labour promise to increase NHS spending in real times and guarantee an appointment at a GP surgery within 48 hours. Furthermore, they will prioritise mental health and guarantee a social care package within a week.
  • The SNP have pledged to increase the NHS revenue budget and produce a national strategy to address social isolation. Moreover, they promise to recruit community health workers and mental health professionals to work in GP surgeries.
  • Scottish Greens propose a commission to explore ways of supporting an inclusive culture which maintains people’s health and independence in older age, as well as more joint working across primary care. They also call for more resources to address mental health, with specific reference to LGBTI+ and disabled people.
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats pledge to increase support for mental health, with every GP practice and A&E department to have mental health professionals available.
  • Scottish Conservatives call for the reintroduction of prescription charges, except for those with long-term conditions. They have also pledged to give patients more choice in the location and type of treatment, as well as provide additional resources for mental health.

Safeguard

  • The SNP have pledged to create a new Social Security Agency with clear timescales for assessments and an accessible appeals process, and reform Universal Credit. They call for employment and welfare policies to take into account mental health conditions and the establishment of a commission to produce guidance on the assessments process, as well as scrapping the Bedroom Tax.
  • Scottish Labour will create a new Scottish Social Security Agency that will work following a rights-based approach and will consider removing assessments from the hands of the private sector. Moreover, the party has pledged to give people the option of either cash or in kind payments through the Scottish Welfare Fund, as well as scrapping the Bedroom Tax.
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats pledge to ensure any welfare-related medical assessments take full account of the fluctuating nature of conditions, including HIV. The party also promise to scrap the Bedroom Tax and ensure a new Scottish welfare system is underpinned by fairness and respect for individuals.
  • Scottish Greens call for an end to benefit sanctions and a full review of current of disability benefits, as well as ensuring all Personal Independence Payment claims are granted initially to ensure disabled people receive immediate support. In addition, the party pledges to establish a Social Security Commission to recommend the principles which a new Scottish benefits system should be established.
  • Scottish Conservatives have committed to a new welfare system that is responsive and flexible to the needs of claimants. They also promise to explore how some benefits could be devolved and administered locally.

More information

Links to the full party manifestos can be found below:

Your vote matters

Which of these pledges will be realised depends on the results of the Scottish election on 5th May. You can find more information about the Scottish elections on the Electoral Commission website, including details on the voting system used to elect MSPs and who can vote. A full list of candidates and parties standing in your local area can be found on your local authority website.

If you registered to vote by Monday 18th April 2016, you will receive a polling card in the post. This will tell you which polling station to go to. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard on the issues that matter to you and have a direct effect on people living with or at risk of HIV in Scotland.

Make an impact and don’t forget to vote on Thursday 5th May