Saturday, 30 November 2019

Other parties and the Constitution ~ SNP, DUP, Plaid Cymru, Green Party

This post looks briefly at "constitutional proposals" in the manifestos of the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Plaid Cymu, and the Green Party. 

Much will depend on which of the larger parties eventually dominates in the House of Commons but the election may result in significant numbers of MPs representing these parties and, if that is the case, they may be in a position to have a marked impact on what the government is able to achieve.

SNP - (35 out of 59 Scottish seats in 2017-19 Commons):

Have a look at the manifesto in full and also BBC News Election 2019 - SNP manifesto at-a-glance

SNP will work with others across Scotland and the UK to escape from Brexit. In a UK context, they will support a second EU referendum with Remain on the ballot paper. And if it is the only alternative to a ‘no deal’ Brexit, they will support the revocation of Article 50.  (Scotland voted 'Remain' in 2016).

A vote for the SNP at this election is a vote for Scotland’s right to choose our own future in a new independence referendum.  "There is a clear mandate to hold a referendum on independence during the current term of the Scottish Parliament. Scotland has already voted  for it but Westminster has so far refused to respect that mandate."

The SNP also seeks to put an independence referendum beyond legal challenge. That requires a transfer of power to Edinburgh so that it may hold an independence referendum. In 2014, the independence referendum was held under legislation enacted by Westminster.

SNP seeks replacement of the First Past the Post system with the Single Transferable Vote system. 16 and 17 year olds would be granted the right to vote in all elections.  SNP would also work to extend the franchise for Westminster elections to include EU citizens and all those with a right to remain in the UK .

SNP seeks abolition of the House of Lords. Nothing is said about whether it would be replaced and the issues involved in the UK parliament becoming a unicameral legislature.

SNP pledges to support "the fundamental rights that people in the UK currently enjoy – not simply because we will lose the rights we have as EU citizens, but also because many Tories have openly said that they want to see the end of hard won rights that protect employment, the environment, health and safety. Tory denials don’t explain why they removed safeguards that had been written into the EU exit deal Theresa May negotiated. Many of these safeguards have been removed from Boris Johnson’s deal."

SNP MPs will oppose any attempts by the UK government to scrap the Human Rights Act and withdraw the UK from the ECHR.

The SNP manifesto includes an 11 point list and point 11 states - "Barnett Formula: They promised the Barnett Formula would remain but billions have been  pledged to other parts of the UK – bypassing Barnett – as part of political pacts with the DUP."

Should Scotland pursue the route of independence then the financial arrangements concerning separation from the UK will be a considerable issue. For further information see House of Commons - Public Accounts Committee Report July 2019 and The National - The Barnett formula as we knew it is dead. Here's what that means for Scotland ...

DUP - (10 out of 18 Northern Irish Seats in 2017-19 Commons):

The full document, may be seen here.  Also see BBC News Election 2019 - DUP manifesto at-a-glance. In the 2017-19 Parliament the DUP entered into a confidence and supply agreement with the Conservative Party.

On Brexit, the DUP seeks a deal "that works for the whole of the UK and which does not leave Norther Ireland behind, with no border in the Irish Sea. (That would require further negotiation with the EU).  (Northern Ireland voted 'Remain' in 2016).

They would repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. The manifesto gives no information about what would replace it.

The House of Lords would be reduced in size. It would be smaller than the Commons and two-thirds of the membership to be elected on a list system with seats allocated on the basis of strengthening regional representation..

Plaid Cymru - 4 out 40 Welsh seats in 2017-19 Commons:

The full document, may be seen here.  Also see BBC News Election 2019 - Plaid Cymru manifesto 11 Key Policies explained.

Plaid Cymru seeks to make Wales an independent State and a member of the EU. (Wales voted "leave" in 2016).

The party seeks transfer of powers from Westminster to the Senedd - financial, justice, economic development, welfare and culture.

The party supports implementation of the Thomas Report on Justice in Wales.

At Westminster, Plaid Cymru would "get rid" of First Past the Post and supports Single Transferable Vote (STV).

On the House of Lords, the party seeks a directly elected House representative of the regions.

16 and 17 years olds would get the vote.

Green Party - One MP in the 2017-19 Commons:

The full document.  Also see BBC News Election 2019 - Green Party manifesto 12 Key Policies explained.

Brexit - the party is "proudly pro-European" and seeks to Remain in the EU.

Green MPs will champion an immediate final say on the terms of any Brexit deal, through a People’s Vote, with Remain as an option on the ballot paper.

"The place that we’ve been brought to by the outcome of the Brexit referendum is difficult, dangerous and divisive. Democracy and truth are under attack, and the real agenda of those pulling the populist strings is widespread chaos in which discord will thrive."

They will "make staying and fighting for the Europe we want a pathway to change – to a society that is genuinely fair, green and fulfilling. Greens will play a leading role in mobilising a positive pro-European movement that has young people at its heart. We have demonstrated that we are willing to work across party boundaries to resist Brexit, and will continue to do so. We will inspire a vote to remain with a vision of the way membership of the EU can improve all our lives. And whatever happens, we will guarantee the full rights of EU citizens and their families living in the UK, including the right to automatic settled status and ensure there is no rolling back of the rights and protections enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights."

The Green Party would set up Citizens' Assemblies to develop a written People's Constitution. They argue that -

"Brexit laid bare the extent to which our governance structures are derelict, but our democracy has been broken for a long time. The First Past the Post voting system means that often more than half of all votes cast simply don’t count. The House of Lords gives power to people who have never been elected and our political representation doesn’t reflect the diversity and reality of the modern UK. We are one of the most centralised countries in Europe, with disproportionate power held at Westminster, and far too little in our regions and local authorities.

These flaws allow those who traditionally hold power to keep hold of power, at the expense of the rest of us. The Green Party will fix our democracy, so that it becomes an effective tool for redistributing power away from the privileged and towards the people.

We want an active democracy in which we can all believe and trust. We think it’s time for every vote to always count and for citizens’ assemblies to develop a written People’s Constitution and explore how as a country we can ensure the fair redistribution of power."

The Green Party also wishes to see:

  • First past the post elections replaced by a fair and proportional voting system.
  • A fully elected House of Lords with members elected for a maximum of 10 years and half the House retiring every 5 years.
  • 16 and 17 year olds being permitted to vote and stand for elected office at age 16.
30 November 2019

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