Responding to Manifestos for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parties

26 June 2024

Our Head of Public Policy Tim Dieppe gives his assessment of the National Party manifestos for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parties, from a Christian perspective

The Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Democratic Unionist Party are fielding candidates in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. Before the election was called, they were the largest parties from these nations represented by MPs in Westminster. You will only be able to vote for these parties if you live in one of these areas.

Here is a summary of the key points from these manifestos from a Christian perspective.

Scottish National Party (SNP)

The SNP manifesto says that it wants to: “Protect the right to abortion.” It states that “The UK Government should follow Scotland’s lead in reviewing the law on abortion to ensure that abortion is first and foremost treated as a healthcare matter.

It also says that it wants to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law, and take a “maximalist approach to the protection of children’s rights.” It is worth noting that the preamble to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child mentions “appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.” This seems impossible to square with its pro-abortion promise.

The manifesto also promises to “Protect and enhance the rights of the LGBTI community.” There is no mention of marriage, family, euthanasia or conversion therapy in this manifesto, though it proposes to increase paid maternity leave to one year and to scrap the two-child benefit cap.

The SNP has already removed charitable rates relief from private schools in Scotland, and if it had powers over VAT it says it would end exemption for private schools. We are concerned about the impact on small Christian independent schools which often struggle to make ends meet.

SNP would decriminalise drugs for personal use and “introduce a framework to allow Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities.” In contrast, it also talks about reintroducing “UK-wide legislation to create a smoke free generation” and committing to banning single-use vapes across the UK. It would also introduce a gambling levy and tackle the impacts of gambling advertising. It talks of treating “problem gambling as a public health matter.”

Like other parties, the SNP wants an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and recognition of Palestine as an independent state, showing the influence of Islam in Scotland. Constitutionally, the SNP would rejoin the EU, abolish the House of Lords, and introduce a Single Transferrable Vote system.

Plaid Cymru

The Plaid Cymru manifesto says that it would “continue to actively promote LGBTQ+ rights” and “LGBTQ+ inclusion throughout society.” Paid Cymru would “end so-called conversion therapy practices related to sexual identity and gender identity.” There appears to be no concern about free speech rights or the Cass Review findings in relation to this. It also wants to propose a “simplified, demedicalised gender self-identification system.” There is no mention of abortion or euthanasia in this manifesto.

Like the SNP, Plaid Cymru would introduce “a policy of soft drugs decriminalisation”. It proposes that: “the UK Home Office should cleanse the criminal records of those cautioned or convicted of drugs possession where there are no aggravating factors.” The manifesto notes that “Wales has the highest imprisonment rate in Western Europe, despite having no control over criminal justice policy.”

Again, like the SNP, Plaid Cymru calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and recognition of the “State of Palestine”.  Plaid Cymru goes further by calling for Israeli government ministers to be held accountable for war crimes, including genocide, and calls on “the UK Government to expel the Israeli ambassador until such time as the Israeli Government ends it apartheid and illegal actions.” It also wants a ban on arms sales to the state of Israel.

Plaid Cymru would scrap the charitable status of private schools and charge VAT on fees and remove the exemption from business rates. It would scrap the two-child limit on child benefit, and extend: “statutory bereavement leave and pay entitlement of two weeks to all people with a close relationship to a person who has died.”

Plaid Cymru says it would incorporate “the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People into UK law.” This should be the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Had this been incorporated into UK law, the UK government would have had to intervene to allow Archie Battersbee to stay alive.

Like the SNP, Plaid Cymru would abolish the House of Lords, and introduce a Single Transferrable Vote system. It would rejoin the European Union at an appropriate point in time, and in the meantime: “join the European Single Market and Customs Union as soon as practical.”

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

The DUP manifesto is “unashamedly pro-life”, and is opposed to: “the commissioning of, and funding for, abortion services in Northern Ireland.” It supported “legal action by disability campaigner Heidi Crowter against legislation allowing the abortion of babies with Down’s Syndrome up to birth.”

It has also raised concerns about pills-by-post abortions. It is also opposed to buffer zones, stating: “We do not believe prayer, including silent prayer, should be criminalised or regarded as anti-social behaviour.” It wants to review Section 9 of the Public Order Act 2023, which is the buffer zone legislation, and also review “the impact of Public Space Protection Orders on those who seek to reasonably express their pro-life beliefs in the public square.” It is also opposed to “efforts to legalise assisted suicide”, and wants better access to palliative care.

The DUP manifesto, in contrast to most others, has a discussion about religious freedom in which it says it has worked with Open Doors and others to “throw a spotlight on the persecution of Christians internationally.” It sought to ensure that “government procurement takes cognisance of international human rights underpinning freedom of religion.” It also endorsed the appointment of a special envoy for freedom of religion and belief.

The DUP wants to see child benefit determined by household income, rather than individual income, and remove the two-child limit on Universal Credit for 3- and 4-child households. They want to see age verification for social media and pornography sites. It would have criminal offences for “encouraging self-harm, trolling, cyber-flashing and targeting people with epilepsy online.”

On free speech, the DUP wants to see tighter rules to prevent banks from freezing or closing bank accounts of businesses or consumers unfairly. It says that there should be a substantive notice period before accounts can be closed and a requirement for banks to provide a clear explanation of what they have done. “Nobody should have their bank accounts closed because of their political views or because somebody else decides they are not politically correct.”

The DUP would also reform the House of Lords to “a smaller chamber with a majority of its membership elected.” There is no mention of LGBT in this manifesto.


Although all three parties have some pro-family policies, one of them is not like the others. The DUP is not only unionist (rather than nationalist), but its MPs have a strong pro-life record which is matched by its manifesto. Its recognition of the need to tackle the persecution of Christians is also very welcome with no other major parties highlighting the problem in their manifestos.

The nationalist parties by contrast have very few policies that recognise the values of Christian foundations, life, family and freedom – in fact, they promote similar policies to Labour and the Liberal Democrats that would cause even more harm in these areas.

There are few simple answers this election for Christians – and one of our most important duties is to pray that God would show mercy and turn the United Kingdom around for his glory and for our good.

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