Election 2019

General election 2019: Alliance Party manifesto at a glance

Naomi Long, leader of the Alliance party

The Alliance Party has launched its manifesto ahead of the 12 December general election.

The full document, which is available here, sets out the policies the party would support becoming law if it wins seats in Westminster.

Some areas, such as education or health, are devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has been suspended since January 2017.

This means the Stormont executive would need to be restored, with assembly members supporting the particular policy, before it could be introduced.

The main policies from the party's 2019 manifesto are:

  • Backing a people's vote and protecting the economy from a no-deal Brexit
  • Holding urgent talks to restore power-sharing at Stormont, led by an independent mediator
  • Invest in healthcare, education and skills

Brexit

The document calls for:

  • The UK to stay in the EU; the party will campaign for Remain if there is another referendum
  • The Withdrawal Agreement to be put back to the people in a referendum, with Remain on the ballot paper

Alliance also urges the government's Brexit deal to be put to another referendum, and says Brexit should not be about "zero-sum politics" but improving political and economy stability.

But what are the other promises being made in a bid to win over voters on polling day, 12 December?

Alliance has supported holding another vote on the UK's membership of the EU since the People's Vote campaign movement was set up in 2018.

Prior to that, it had called for Northern Ireland to be given "special status" in any Brexit deal, recognising the unique circumstances of the border between NI and the Republic of Ireland.

Since Boris Johnson secured his revised agreement, Alliance has said that deal should be put to another vote, with remaining in the EU an option on the ballot paper.

The party says any MPs it returns to Westminster would vote for the government's deal if the only other option facing them was a no-deal exit.

Environment

Climate change has risen up the agenda for many voters recently, and Alliance want to make it clear there will be "potentially disastrous consequences for human existence" if the issue is not tackled.

Many climate issues are devolved but, as with the rest of the manifesto, Alliance sets out measures it would support the Westminster government taking.

The party argues that "renewable energy is a matter that needs to be championed by Northern Ireland's MPs" while at the same time arguing for cutting carbon emissions by "adapting" Northern Ireland's energy use.

  • Put tackling climate change at the heart of all policy
  • Accelerate the switch to less polluting forms of energy
  • Reduce the UK's net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030
  • Support the continued existence of the all-island energy market

Education

Alliance has long been a champion of integrated education, in which Protestant and Catholic children as well as those of other faiths and none are educated together.

It's nothing new that the party strongly supports this being expanded, but it points to the fact Naomi Long and her team recognise it remains a key plank of Alliance policy.

Elsewhere, the party calls for reform to the education system "so we end annual crises in school budgets", as well as:

  • Advocating a range of alternative post-primary pathways
  • Giving a greater focus to Stem subjects and computer coding
Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Lagan College was Northern Ireland's first integrated school when it opened in 1981

Devolution and the Stormont deadlock

Alliance has been involved in several talks processes to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly - much of its pledges in this document echo previous calls by the party.

However, given it has been almost three years since Stormont collapsed, the party now contends that if there is no breakthrough by January 2020, another assembly election should be held.

It supported the passage of same-sex marriage and abortion legislation through Westminster, and says while there are no executive ministers, MPs should legislate for other NI-related issues.

Meanwhile:

  • An independent mediator should convene urgent, multi-party talks and if there is no breakthrough, the government should call a fresh assembly election
  • The British and Irish governments should publish a paper on their best assessment of where parties might agree and challenge them to engage
  • Contentious issues such as the Irish language should be legislated for at Westminster if necessary
  • A new civic forum should be convened, made up of politicians and a group of citizens
Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Power-sharing at Stormont collapsed in January 2017 and has yet to be restored

Finance and the economy

Many finance matters are devolved, but Northern Ireland still relies on a block grant from Westminster and, in the absence of a functioning assembly, the government has had to pass budget bills through Westminster in order to allocate funding to Stormont departments.

Alliance's financial and economic proposals mainly relate to policies for which any MPs returned to Westminster would seek to advocate:

  • Increase the tax-free allowance for income tax so lower-earners keep more of what they earn
  • A wider range of VAT exemptions, including zero tax on sanitary products and sunscreen and lower rates for hospitality and housing renovation
  • Ensure economic policy is assessed for its impact on small businesses

Other key policies

  • Develop a comprehensive approach to promoting a shared future through integrated education, shared neighbourhoods and promoting community relations
  • Introduce proportional representation in elections for the House of Commons and lower the voting age to 16
  • Implement the Bengoa reforms to transform the health service in Northern Ireland

What are the parties promising you?

Here's a guide to where the the other main parties in Northern Ireland stand on key issues in this election campaign.

More on this story