Where do the Scottish parties stand on Humanist issues?

With only a couple of days to go until the polls open for the 2016 Scottish Parliament Elections find out where the various parties stand on Humanist campaign issues.

With polling day drawing near we have compiled a list of where the various Scottish political parties stand on a range of issues that interest Humanists in Scotland.

As a registered charity HSS remains completely neutral on party political issues and would never endorse one party or another.

We do meet regularly with elected politicians and candidates in order to promote our polices and campaigns, and on that basis we have studies the various manifestos and highlighted issues we think are important to Humanists in Scotland.

You can read below a series of short extracts from the various political party manifestos in Scotland.

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  • Secular education

We want to see a truly secular education system, whereby no one is discriminated against due to their religion or belief. We want an end to religious selection on both pupil admissions and staff selection.

SNP

There is no specific mention of this in the SNP manifesto, however there is a mention of the role of local authorities in education:

“We will extend to individual schools responsibilities that currently sit solely with local authorities, allocate more resources directly to headteachers and enable them to take decisions based on local circumstances. We will encourage school clusters and create new educational regions to decentralise management and support.” (pp.9)

Scottish Labour

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Labour manifesto.

Conservative logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Conservatives manifesto, however there is a mention of the role of local authorities in education:

“We remain of the view that if there is demand, schools should not be prevented from operating outside of Local Authority control.” (pp.24)

Lib Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto.

Greens logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Greens manifesto.

UKIP Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the UKIP manifesto.

RISE logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the RISE manifesto.

Solidarity logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Solidarity manifesto.

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  • Unelected Religious representatives

We believe that all members of local education committees should be accountable to their communities through the ballot box. (Find out more about the Enlighten Up campaign.)

SNP logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the SNP manifesto.

Scottish Labour

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Labour manifesto.

Conservative logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Conservatives manifesto.

Lib Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto.

Greens logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Greens manifesto.

UKIP Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the UKIP manifesto.

RISE logo header

“RISE also believes that all members of Local Authority education committees must be democratically accountable to local people at the ballot box. We therefore support the campaign to remove the requirement for unelected religious representatives on education committees.”

Solidarity logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Solidarity manifesto.

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  • Inclusive Sex and Relationships Education

We believe that high quality, up-to-date education in relation to sexual health, relationships and parenthood is essential for a 21st Century education.

SNP

“We recognise that Scotland has come a long way on issues such as LGBTI recognition, but that we have further to go. We expect all new guidance and promoted teachers – and eventually all teachers – to undertake training on equality, so they are confident in tackling prejudice-based bullying. We will provide additional funding where required.” (pp.21)

Scottish Labour

“…we will ensure that all young people, regardless of location, will have access to consistent sex education which considers LGBTI relationships and sexual health.” (pp.37)

Conservative logo header

“LGBT discrimination in particular has not received the attention it deserves. We think school inspections should specifically ask about school action on LGBT issues as opposed to simply broad equality matters. Dedicated reporting of LGBT incidents through SEEMiS should also be introduced.” (pp.23)

Lib Dem logo header

“We will… Work with teachers and schools to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and ask local authorities to record such behaviour” (pp.21)

“We will… 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” (pp.22)

Greens logo header

“Scottish Greens also support the Time for Inclusive Education campaign, which promotes inclusive LGBTI+ school environments.” (pp.17)

UKIP Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the UKIP manifesto.

RISE logo header

“RISE is proud to support the aims of the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign… More must be done to build an education system that is truly inclusive for all young people.”

“Government should step in and offer funding for LGBTI+ training, with the initial goal of having at least one member of staff in each school trained specifically to deal with homophobic bullying and other LGBTI+ pastoral issues. For the avoidance of doubt, this requirement must apply to all schools.”

Solidarity logo header

“Solidarity firmly supports the Time for Inclusive Education campaign as an essential aid in confronting, challenging and combatting homophobic bullying in schools and within educational environments.”

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  • LGBTI Equality

Humanists believe that individuals should be free to live their lives, and strive to find happiness and fulfilment. That’s why we support LGBTI equality.

SNP

“We will also continue to work with sports’ governing bodies to support efforts to end LGBTI discrimination in sport.” (pp.6)

“We will review and reform gender recognition law, so it’s in line with international best practice for people who are Transgender or Intersex.”(pp.21)

Further detailed plans are laid out on pages 21-22.

Scottish Labour

“A Scottish Labour Government will change the law to provide legal recognition for people who do not identify as men or women and remove the psychiatric diagnosis requirement from legal gender recognition process.” (pp.37)

“Scotland’s young people who wish to seek legal recognition of the gender they live would be entitled to do so from the age of 16 under Scottish Labour.” (pp.37-38)

Further detailed plans are laid out on pages 37-38.

Conservative logo header

“Other areas that we believe require review are Family Law as well as the Gender Recognition Act.” (pp.43)

Lib Dem logo header

“We will… Condemn any form of ‘gay cure’ therapy in Scotland and consider any further steps that could be taken to make the practice unavailable in Scotland” (pp.21)

“We will… Reform the Gender Recognition Act to bring it into line with international good practice in recognising the gender identity of trans people, including consideration of the medical requirements placed on applicants, and recognise the gender identity of nonbinary people” (pp.21)

Greens logo header

“There must be equality before the law regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. We will back the campaign to reform gender recognition law in line with international best practice. We will call for a government-led review of legislation and services to identify inequalities for LGBTI+ couples and people of all non-binary gender identities, and for legislation to make Civil Partnerships open to all couples on an equal basis with marriage.” (pp.33)

Further detailed plans are laid out on page 33.

UKIP Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the UKIP manifesto.

RISE logo header

“RISE backs the Scottish Transgender Alliance’s Equal Recognition Campaign, which calls for trans people’s rights to self-determination and recognition of the need for intersex people to have full bodily autonomy.”

Further detailed plans are laid out on the manifesto website.

Solidarity logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Solidarity manifesto (other than that covered in the Sex and Relationships Education section).

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  • Living Wage

HSS members voted in 2014 to support the Living Wage Campaign. HSS is a living wage employer.

SNP

“We will extend payment of the Living Wage – ensuring that all social care workers receive the Living Wage by October 2016 and doubling the number of accredited employers from 500 to 1,000 by autumn 2017.” (pp.9)

Scottish Labour

“We will establish a Living Wage Commission tasked with making Scotland a Living Wage nation and to end the use of exploitative zero-hours contracts.” (pp.15)

Conservative logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Conservatives manifesto.

Lib Dem logo header

“We will pay the Living Wage for all public services.” (pp.29)

“We will restrict future business development funding, such as regional selective assistance, to companies that pay the Living Wage.” (pp.29)

Greens logo header

“We will campaign to make government business support available only to those companies who plan to pay the Living Wage, avoid zero-hours contracts, recognise trade unions, reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid, pay women and men equally and are environmentally responsible.” (pp.5)

“Green MSPs will campaign for all care and support workers to be paid significantly above the Living Wage…” (pp.8)

“Apprenticeships must pay at least living wage…” (pp.18)

UKIP Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the UKIP manifesto.

RISE logo header

“We would ensure that no public contracts or subsidies went to companies who engage in blacklisting or fail to pay a Living Wage.”

“We believe that all young people should receive a living wage and we will fight for the Scottish Parliament to receive full powers over the minimum wage. RISE supports a minimum wage of £10 per hour for all workers aged sixteen and above.”

Solidarity logo header

“Solidarity believes detailed research… justifies a living wage of £10 an hour and that this living wage should be a legal entitlement for all workers, including full-time carers.”

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  • EcoHumanism: Protecting the environment

We believe that this is the one life we have, it’s therefore important that we ensure that we leave a legacy for future generations. HSS supports measures to reduce carbon emissions and promote environmental stewardship.

SNP

“We will not allow fracking or underground coal gasification in Scotland unless it can be proved beyond any doubt that it will not harm our environment, communities or public health.” (pp.9)

“We will introduce a new Climate Change Act, with an ambitious new target of reducing emissions by more than 50 per cent by 2020.” (pp.9)

Scottish Labour

“…a Scottish Labour Government will aspire to generate 50% of our electricity, heat and transport demand from renewables by 2030.” (pp.38)

Further detailed plans are laid out on page 29.

Conservative logo header

“We have for long argued that Scottish energy generation should be based on three key principles – security of supply, affordability and decarbonisation. This requires a mixed energy policy, without an overt reliance on one type of generation and with ongoing support for sunrise technologies.” (pp.32)

Further detailed plans are laid out on pages 32-33.

Lib Dem logo header

“We will beat Scotland’s climate change targets by developing bolder plans in addition to the existing plans. Scottish Liberal Democrats will give a priority to warm homes, renewable heat, low-carbon transport as well as continued support for renewable electricity generation and a move away from high-polluting fossil fuels with action to cut carbon emissions from industry.” (pp.25)

“We will… Not permit fracking or similar unconventional processes” (pp.25)

Further detailed plans are laid out on pages 25-26.

Greens logo header

“We will continue to oppose Scotland increasing its dependency on unsustainable fossil fuels and instead argue for resources to be channelled towards creating a range of thriving and efficient “ renewable energy sources.” (pp.21)

“We now know that our dependency on fossil fuels has to end, leaving reserves in the ground, if we are to limit the effects of climate change.” (pp.21)

Further detailed plans are laid out on pages 21-22.

UKIP Dem logo header

“UKIP also realises that targets set by government are arbitrary and can have contrary effects on the environment and biodiversity. For this reason we will scrap targets regarding forestry and re-wilding, opting for local management of such matters.” (pp.14)

Further detailed plans are laid out on pages 13-14.

RISE logo header

“RISE supports a total ban on all fracking and unconventional gas extraction (UGE) in Scotland and will fight to ensure the imposition of such a ban in the next parliament.”

“Over time, RISE aims for all of Scotland’s energy resources, both renewable and fossil-based, to be taken into public hands. We believe Scotland’s natural wealth belongs to the people of Scotland.”

Further detailed plans are laid out on the manifesto website.

Solidarity logo header

“Solidarity MSPs will present a bill in Holyrood which outlaws the environmentally unsafe and destructive practice of Fracking.”

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  • Support for Assisted Dying

We believe that people with life shortening conditions should be able to request assistance to end their own lives.

SNP

There is no specific mention of this in the SNP manifesto.

Scottish Labour

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Labour manifesto.

Conservative logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Conservatives manifesto.

Lib Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto.

Greens logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Greens manifesto.

UKIP Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the UKIP manifesto.

RISE logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the RISE manifesto.

Solidarity logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Solidarity manifesto.

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  • Defending the Human Rights Act

Humanist Society Scotland is committed to the defence and promotion of Human Rights and non-discrimination. We seek to promote Human Rights in Scotland, and beyond in partnership with other organisations and campaigners.

SNP

“We will continue to oppose UK Government plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and refuse to consent to its abolition.” (pp.23)

“We will work with civic society to establish a set social and economic rights across devolved areas for all of Scotland’s citizens…” (pp.23)

Further detailed plans are set out on page 22.

Scottish Labour

“A Scottish Labour Government will stand up for citizens’ individual rights and protect the Human Rights Act.” (pp.63)

“We will legislate to enshrine both the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law.” (pp.62)

Further detailed plans are set out on pages 62-63.

Conservative logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Conservatives manifesto.

Lib Dem logo header

The Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto does not mention the Human Rights Act specifically, although they do list “Safeguarding human rights” as one of their main aims (pp.2).

“[We will e]nshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Scottish law” (pp.18)

“We will… Introduce a protocol on human rights for Scottish public agencies operating in countries where there is cause for concern” (pp.21)

Greens logo header

“Fundamental rights for all must be safeguarded. Green MSPs will strongly oppose any repeal of the Human Rights Act, advocate for a Bill of Rights to safeguard our civil liberties, and support the incorporation of international treaties into Scots law. We also want all schools to achieve UNICEF’s Rights Respecting School Award, where children’s human rights are embedded in a school’s ethos and culture.” (pp.15).

UKIP Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the UKIP manifesto.

RISE logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the RISE manifesto.

Solidarity logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Solidarity manifesto.

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  • Protecting a woman’s right to choose

We support the ‘pro-choice’ position on abortion. We believe that the right to be the master of one’s own body is a fundamental human right and women should therefore be allowed to decide whether or not to continue with a pregnancy.

SNP

“We do not intend to change the law on abortion.” (pp.3)

Scottish Labour

“Scottish Labour is committed to ensuring equal access, irrespective of geographical location, to contraceptive advice, family planning services and abortion services. We have no plans to change the law on abortion.” (pp.34)

Conservative logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Conservatives manifesto.

Lib Dem logo header

“We will… Retain existing abortion legislation” (pp.21)

Greens logo header

“We will push for abortion to be removed from the criminal justice system and, in the short term, for improved services, access and information about abortion to be available for women in all areas of Scotland.” (pp.15)

UKIP Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the UKIP manifesto.

RISE logo header

“RISE will use the new abortion powers being devolved to Scotland to ensure that a woman’s right to choose is no longer restricted by the need for two doctors to sign-off on a procedure. Referrals should not be denied on religious grounds, nor should access to contraceptive methods. We will seek cross-party support to invest in abortion services, including aftercare, and to cut down on waiting times.”

Solidarity logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Solidarity manifesto.

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  • Organ donation opt-out

We support the introduction of an opt-out system for organ donations in Scotland.

SNP

“…we will also consult on ways to further increase organ donation and transplantation, including the development of a workable soft opt-out system for Scotland.” (pp.3)

Scottish Labour

“…taking decisions for the long-term, like introducing a soft opt-out system for organ donations” (pp.33)

Conservative logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Conservatives manifesto.

Lib Dem logo header

“We will… Bring in fresh government legislation to provide for an opt-out system of organ donation in the first legislative programme” (pp.21)

Greens logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Scottish Greens manifesto.

UKIP Dem logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the UKIP manifesto.

RISE logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the RISE manifesto.

Solidarity logo header

There is no specific mention of this in the Solidarity manifesto.

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  • Manifestos

SNP Scottish Labour Conservative logo header Lib Dem logo header Greens logo header UKIP Dem logo header RISE logo header Solidarity logo header

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Note: Every precaution has been taken to avoid misrepresentation. HSS is a registered charity and remains completely impartial from party politics. This guide is intended as an aide-memoir, and we recommend reading the party manifestos in full.

If we have made an error, please get in touch – we will be happy to correct it.

You can also read our 2015 Humanist Manifesto here.

Image Courtesy: Wojtek Gurak, Creative Commons.

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