- 2015 National LGBT Conference
- 22 July 2015
- Carried as Amended
Conference notes that the majority Conservative government will have been in power in Westminster for a year by May 2016. The local, regional and devolved nation elections on 5 May will mark a first test of the Conservative’s electoral support and offer a chance to challenge their power at a local and regional level.
Conference believes that we must therefore build on and expand our work to encourage members to register to vote, particularly with 2016 elections likely to see significant disenfranchisement of vulnerable and transient communities due to Individual Electoral Registration.
Conference further believes that voter turnout in these elections will be key and understands that encouraging members to use their vote needs to be a priority for the national lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group’s work programme, both on a national and regional level.
Conference notes that in London there will be elections for the Mayor and the London Assembly. Conference recalls that a British National Party (BNP) Assembly Member was elected in 2008. Due to the hard work of a broad coalition of groups including trade unionists, the electoral threat from the BNP has thankfully dissipated however we must be ever vigilant and continue our campaign against far right groups.
The London Assembly elections use an “Additional Member” system where political parties get additional top up seats based on the number of votes they achieve across the capital. This could make it possible for United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) to win representation even if they do not win in any of the constituency seats. The Additional Member system is also used in devolved nation elections.
UKIP is a party who have had a number of elected representatives and members who have made racist and homophobic statements. It is a party that spreads fear and division.
Conference notes that London has been UKIP’s weakest area in the country, with UKIP Spokesperson Suzanne Evans explaining this by stating that Londoners are “more media-savvy and educated”! However in May of this year UK Elects forecast that UKIP could win two top up seats on the London Assembly in 2016. It is vital that we campaign against UKIP across the UK and make clear to our members that they would be a disaster for equality, for workers rights and for public services.
Conference therefore calls on the national LGBT committee to work with regional LGBT groups and branches where appropriate to:
1. Encourage members to register to vote and to vote in favour of candidates and parties who back equality and UNISON’s values in the upcoming local, regional and devolved nation elections;
2. Continue our campaign against the far right and unmask UKIP’s myths;
3. Work with the Labour Link to ensure UNISON resources are put into regional and devolved nation elections as they offer a vital way of challenging the Conservative’s power at Westminster;
4. Encourage our members to stand for elected office.