Election 2021: Who are the smaller parties in this election and what do they stand for?
The voting system for Scottish Parliament elections allows the possibility of smaller parties getting elected through the regional list, but what are they offering?
All for Unity
All for Unity is an anti-independence party intended to bring together unionist voters around an alternative offer on the regional list vote with the aim of maximising the overall number of unionist MSPs. Originally intended as a cross-party unionist alliance, the idea is for tactical voting to oppose the SNP, with unionist voters encouraged to support whichever candidate from the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems is most likely to defeat the SNP in their constituency and then vote for All for Unity in the regional list vote. If elected, All for Unity candidates will sit as independents and work with any of the unionist parties to oppose another independence referendum. All for Unity’s policies include setting out strict terms under which a second independence referendum could take place. This would include only holding one if a majority of those entitled to vote, rather than those who actually voted, support pro-independence parties. They also want to rename the Bank of England the Bank of Britain and the Scottish Government the Scottish Executive, increase auditing of government spending, reform Curriculum for Excellence and move back to knowledge-based learning, pilot raising the school start age to six, repeal the Hate Crime Bill and change the Scottish verdict system to proven and not proven.
Launched just six weeks before the election, Alba intends to serve the opposite purpose to All for Unity, working the electoral system in a similar way to increase the number of pro-independence MSPs. It is encouraging pro-independence voters to support the SNP in the constituency vote and Alba on the regional list with the aim of creating a ‘supermajority’ of nationalist MSPs to push for independence. Unlike the more cautious approach of the SNP, Alba has said it would start negotiations on a referendum and terms of independence immediately after a government is formed. Also unlike the SNP, which would assume an independent Scotland wanted to join the EU, the Alba Party is proposing initially to seek membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the single market and the European Economic Area. It would also plan for Scotland to launch its own currency immediately after independence. Other policies include an annual £500 payment to low-income families, free access to sports facilities for under-18s, doubling the educational maintenance allowance for 16-19-year-olds, increasing the state pension and “at least” a four per cent pay rise for council workers. It also has a strong declaration on women’s rights that includes the right to discuss policies without abuse and the right to single sex spaces, as well as a range of policies on animal welfare, including banning shock collars, tighter restrictions on fireworks and creating a national animal cruelty register.
Previously known as the Brexit Party, since Brexit has been achieved Reform UK has pivoted to being an anti-lockdown and free speech party. Campaigning under a strapline of ‘changing politics for good’, it has five key policy areas under five R’s. These are ‘return our freedoms’, which means no lockdowns, no vaccine passports and repealing the Hate Crime Bill, ‘restart the economy’ with lower taxes and higher growth, ‘restore education standards’, which includes scrapping Curriculum for Excellence, more power returned to teachers, play-based early years, and equal weight for academic and vocational learning. The fourth area is ‘rebuild the NHS’, including changing the way NHS staff are trained and managed, and creating an NHS reserve force, similar to the army reserve, for times of crisis. The fifth ‘R’ is ‘reform Holyrood’, including an audited review of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government, and devolving more power to councils.
Renew Scotland’s USP is about more honest politics, more accountable government and providing better information to voters. The party was formed in 2017 in the wake of the Brexit vote by people who were disillusioned with the poor information around Brexit. The party was against Brexit and wants to re-join the EU as early as possible. It is in favour of the people of Scotland having the right to vote again on independence if they want to but says they must be given full information about what that would look like so they know what they are voting for. It also wants a number of options for increased powers to be on the ballot paper, rather than just yes or no, with voters able to put them in order of preference rather than make a binary choice. Renew Scotland is also in favour of a second, confirmatory vote on independence once a deal has been made. Other policies include a criminal code for politicians, political organisations and journalists so that they can be prosecuted for dishonesty or corruption and a legal obligation for government to end poverty and ensure a basic quality of life for everyone.
Scottish Family Party
As the name suggests, the Scottish Family Party’s focus is on families as the basic building block of society. It believes the state should be working to “support” rather than “supplant” the family and that the effects of family breakdown have a significant impact across society, making it vital to maintain strong families. The Scottish Family Party sees maintaining families as key to tackling poverty, since couples are more likely to be financially stable. It also emphasises the importance of children having fathers as well as a mothers and would promote the benefits of marriage, with the ideal scenario being children brought up by their mother and father where possible, although recognising and supporting people in other situations. It also pro-free speech and pro-life. Among the party’s policies are tax breaks to allow one parent to stay at home full time with the children, increasing academic standards and discipline in schools, opposing hate speech legislation, opposing inappropriate sex education, opposing abortion on demand and assisted suicide, and opposing transgender ideology, particularly in relation to children.