“Unexpected.” “The election that no one wants.” “The chance for Scotland’s voice to be heard.”
Britain’s last-minute decision (if it can be called a decision) to take part in the 2019 European Election has caught many of our political parties off guard. In the scramble to find candidates willing to fight an election on the key issue of our times and possibly take up a role as an MEP due to cease with the new Brexit date on 31 October, the elections on the 23rd of May still feel a rather distant prospect.
Of course, the campaign and its results will largely be scrutinised along Remain / Leave lines, with Nigel Farage’s nascent Brexit Party widely predicted to top the polls UK-wide and a moderately strong resurgence of support for the Liberal Democrats and the Greens likely. In Scotland, the SNP is hoping to win a third seat (of Scotland’s available six) on the lines that Scotland has been excluded from a Brexit process it didn’t consent to, with a second referendum on Scottish independence never far from thoughts.
All this means there has been little chance and little hope for civil society to scrutinise let alone influence hastily drawn up manifestos. Some may even question what the point of doing so is, given the looming exit date six months hence.
Yet, that date has moved before, and Remain-orientated parties haven’t given up the prospect of staying in the EU entirely. A lot can happen in six months and our MEPs will still have votes in some of the key issues the European Parliament explores in that time. As our MEPs sit in European groups, each of which produces manifestos, it is still important that we examine the gender-impacts of key commitments. Even post-Brexit, our relationship with the EU will influence us through trade and social and cultural proximity, especially in Scotland where the Government intends to ‘keep pace’ with EU legal developments.
So Engender has produced a mini gender summary, which we have previously produced for UK election manifestos, focused on national party manifestos (where they exist) and/or key issues from their European Groups. The summary recreates aspects of the manifestos which directly relate to gender equality and women’s rights in order to make comparisons of the gender analysis each contains. We have also included the parties’ stated positions on the Brexit process for fullness and context.
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