Election 2016 – The Manifestos: Minor Parties

 

Your choice at the election won’t be restricted to the six parties mentioned previously.


There’ll be plenty of less-established parties looking to take advantage of proportional representation (and perhaps even compete in some first-past-the-post seats) to emulate what the Scottish Socialist Party, Scottish Senior Citizens and Independents have previously done in the Scottish Parliament, or closer to home in the case of Trish Law in 2007.

Freedom to Choose (aka. Vapers in Power Party)

Standing in :

  • Cardiff West (Lee Woolls)
  • South Wales Central

Key Policies :
  • Opposes restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes (aka. vaping) in public.
  • Opposes any ban on sales of e-cigarettes.

This party’s candidates are standing in reaction to the unsuccessful Public Health Bill which would’ve extended smoking restrictions in public spaces to e-cigarettes in Wales. There’s still a chance a Public Health Bill will be resurrected in the Fifth Assembly in some form, so the campaign to stop a ban is far from won yet.

People First

 

Standing in :

  • Llanelli (Cllr. Sian Caiach)
  • Mid & West Wales

Key Policies :
  • Work in accordance with the Bell Principles for elected representatives.
  • Opposes any cuts or downgrading at Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital.
  • End public subsidies to private developments in Carmarthenshire.
  • Seek improvement to sewage treatment facilities in the Llanelli area to prevent flooding near the Burry inlet.
  • Support a coastal bypass of Llanelli to reduce traffic in the town centre.


People First are now a registered party instead of an independent group. They’ve proven to be a persistent thorn in the side of Carmarthenshire’s Ind-Lab-Plaid establishment, having been amongst the few long-standing groups campaigning for improved transparency and democratic accountability in the “Wild West”.

Nevertheless, the sight of Sian Caiach – a former Plaid Cymru member who left the party under acrimonious circumstances – on ballot papers will cause unpleasant flashbacks for Plaid in particular. It’s widely-believed her better than expected performance in 2011 resulted in Helen Mary Jones losing Llanelli by the slimmest of margins. Whether that was actually the case is up for debate, but could history be about to partly repeat itself – particularly since Plaid jumped into bed with Independents on Carmarthenshire Council?

Official Monster Raving Loony Party


Standing in
:

  • Mid & West Wales
  • North Wales
  • South Wales Central
  • South Wales East
  • South Wales West

Key policies :
  • Make zebra crossings available to all animals.
  • Reduce the number of AMs from 60 to 5.
  • Bring back breeding pairs of dragons.
  • Give voting rights to anyone who can hold a crayon.
  • Establish Swansea Airport as a hub for a Welsh space programme.

Sovereign Wales


Standing in :

  • Newport West (Gruff Meredith)

Key Policies
:
  • Welsh independence (over a series of stages).
  • Creation of a single “one-stop shop” business agency.
  • Supports clean coal technology and extraction of coal bed methane (fracking) for local use.
  • Establishment of a National Bank of Wales.
  • Withdrawal from the European Union.

With the only mainstream nationalist party – Plaid Cymru – supporting EU membership, this appears to be the only formal manifestation of euroscepticism from a Welsh nationalist perspective. Also against the grain for mainstream nationalist opinion is support for clean coal and fracking. The party is headed up by Gruff Meredith, who’s submitted numerous petitions to the National Assembly under the Sovereign Wales banner and was one of the people behind the (sadly defunct) Daily Wales website.

Women’s Equality Party


Standing in :

  • South Wales Central

Key Policies :
  • Create a universal childcare system; the first 15 hours free, the rest priced at £1 an hour.
  • Ensure 50% of government posts are held by women and introduce temporary measures to ensure gender balance in the National Assembly.
  • Flexible working and shared parental leave for both genders, an end to workplace discrimination and equal pay for equal work.
  • Challenge gender stereotypes and provide full and comprehensive sex and relationship education for all.
  • Positive representation of women in the media, more coverage of women’s sport and tackle domestic and sexual violence.


Sandi Toksvig’s WEP – which seems based on Sweden’s Women’s Initiative – are standing in an Assembly election for the first time and, as you might expect, their policies take a feminist bent. They’re the most professionally-presented “new party” I’ve seen since devolution and clearly have significant backing behind the scenes. Somewhat surprisingly, they’re only putting up candidates in one region; though as Cardiff’s where Wales’ liberal elite live it makes sense.

Their platform seems a bit twee and middle class – some of it crossing the boundary into non-devolved areas too – but many of issues WEP raise warrant close attention. The main parties have been keen to address some of those issues during the campaign – Labour, Lib Dems, Tories, Greens and Plaid on childcare, Lib Dems on childcare and sex education. So their positions aren’t without merit, but with more established parties stealing their thunder it seems highly unlikely they’re going to do very much.

I can see them becoming an effective lobbying voice if they retain their party infrastructure after the election, but they’re going to have to win little victories before taking a serious stab at an Assembly seat.


Standing in :


Wales has elected Independent AMs before – most notably Trish Law and John Marek – so it’s not as if there’s a lack of precedent here. Successful Independents usually have either a very strong local profile/personal vote or have left a party following some issue that angered the local community.

As Independents by their very nature stand on local or personal manifestos, there’s no single policy to note, so I’ve linked to websites etc. of the candidates above where relevant. Of all of them, Chris Overton is perhaps the one to watch as he’s been a leading campaigner against unpopular changes to services at Haverfordwest’s Withybush Hospital and managed to get 9% of the vote in the 2015 UK election. With the race in Carms. W & S. Pembs. likely to be very close his performance could end up determining who wins.

 

Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party

Standing in :
  • Mid & West Wales
  • North Wales
  • South Wales Central
  • South Wales East
  • South Wales West

Key Policy :
  • Abolish the National Assembly of Wales.


Set up by former senior UKIP member, David Bevan, its only policy is in the name – so you can’t accuse them of being labyrinthine. Polls indicate 10-15% of people – the oft-cited “silent majority” – support abolishing the Assembly. The likelihood of that gaining traction is slim, though recent polling put ATWAP support at 2% – which isn’t bad, particularly when you consider the fact they’ve hardly done any campaigning. They’ve also managed to secure a “high-profile”candidate in former Wales and Neath prop, Jeremy Pugh, and are putting up a full complement of candidates on each regional list.

There are scant details of how they intend to see their dream become reality. The Assembly will become a permanent feature of the UK’s constitution in the next Wales Act. Plus, they’d need an anti-devolution majority in the Assembly to get direct rule on the table; even if they got 100% of the list vote at most they’d win 20 AMs. At best it’s a last stand of the 1997 no campaign – the sorest losers in modern British political history.

They might cause UKIP a few problems by preventing them maxing out their vote but nothing more. However, I think they stand a chance of being the seventh biggest party on May 6th as they only need 2-3% of the national vote to do that.

Christian Party

 

Standing in :

  • Mid & West Wales

Key Policies :
  • Withdrawal from the European Union.
  • A ban on abortion alongside restrictions on sex education.
  • Replacement of Y Ddraig Goch with the flag of St David.
  • Rejection of all environmental protection laws and global warming.
  • Replace business rates and council tax with local income tax and local sales taxes.


Many of the policies cover non-devolved areas, but one or two of them have been mentioned by other parties in their manifestos – particularly reform to local taxes. As for the rest, it’s an evangelical wet dream with a drop of British nationalism. The former county of Dyfed is the closest thing Wales has to a “Bible Belt”, so it’s no surprise the party are concentrating their efforts there. There’s no mention of a national network of local authority-subsidised bowling alleys though….

English Democrats

Standing in :

  • Monmouth (Stephen Morris)

Key Policy :
  • A local referendum on whether Monmouthshire should become part of England.


It’s their £500 to waste….again. They also only want the “nice bit” of the old county of Monmouthshire, not Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen (though they’ve previously stood in Newport). I doubt any English Democrat activists have gone around Tredegar and Ebbw Vale telling them they’re English. Other than that – and their clear support for English devolution and English independence – their policies are almost indistinguishable from UKIP.

Welsh Communist Party


Standing in :

  • Mid & West Wales
  • North Wales
  • South Wales Central
  • South Wales East
  • South Wales West

Key Policies :
  • Full employment through a centrally-planned economy; nationalisation of the steel industry.
  • The National Assembly should have at least the same powers as the Scottish Parliament in a federal UK.
  • Democratic workplaces and support for collective bargaining.
  • Encourage more social housing construction by local authorities.
  • Local government reorganisation along current local health board boundaries.


The Communists have stood in every Assembly election campaign to date and normally get around 0.3% of the vote. On the whole their programme contains some ideas that aren’t totally out of kilter with mainstream opinion, with many of their proposed policies (or variations) appearing in the manifestos of other parties on the left (perhaps even the Lib Dems too).

Although it’s clear their programme isn’t Stalinist, the name “communist” retains negative connotations – though some European countries, particularly Greece, Spain and Portugal, have elected communist members. Stranger things have happened, but it’s unlikely to ever happen in Wales as it’s safe to say that fire burned out long ago.

Socialist Party of Great Britain

Standing in :

  • Swansea West (Brian Johnson)

Key Policies :
  • A society that owns the means of production.
  • Hostility an non-cooperation with every other political party (as they work in class interests).

It’s worth pointing out this isn’t the same Arthur Scargill-led Socialist Labour Party that polled relatively well in 2011 (2.4%) – they’re not standing this year.

It’s also not the other Socialist Party (the successor to Militant Tendency whose placards you see at any and all public demonstrations) – they’re part of TUSC, which I’ll come to next. “Spliters!” The Socialist Party of GB is a revolutionary party that doesn’t believe socialism is achievable via gradual reforms. What better platform for revolutionary politics than a National Assembly constituency in Swansea?

Trade Union & Socialist Coalition (TUSC)

Standing in :

  • South Wales Central
  • South Wales East
  • South Wales West

Key Policies :
  • Opposes any cuts to public spending.
  • Supports a £10 per hour minimum wage.
  • Scrap tuition fees.
  • Opposes academies, free schools and fracking.
  • Withdrawal from the European Union.


TUSC is an electoral alliance formed by some of the more militant trade unions, the placard production line Socialist Party and the self-parodying Socialist Workers Party (who don’t stand in elections under their own name and have numerous front organisations). It’s probably the closest there’s ever been to a working electoral alliance on the far-left, but they haven’t achieved very much with strings of lost deposits. They only managed 1,700 votes across Wales in 2011 and I’d expect a similar result this year.

There’s a big gap here with the British National Party (BNP) falling off the electoral register in January 2016 – they’ve since re-registered but are standing no candidates in Wales. A meteoric decline has seen their thunder well and truly stolen by UKIP. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

Meanwhile, Britain First and the other BNP splinter parties are giving Wales a wide berth.

Unfortunately, the National Front are standing candidates on the South Wales East regional list. Somehow, I don’t think I need to tell you what their policies are and it would probably violate the terms and conditions of the host if I did so.