DUP Manifesto 2019

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has issued its manifesto ahead of the General Election on 12 December. We have included aspects of it that may be of relevance.

A Global UK

If the United Kingdom’s goal is a Global UK then it must ensure it has a clear plan and strategy to achieve it.

Foreign Development Aid

The United Kingdom ranks amongst the most generous in the world in its commitment to Foreign Development Aid. According to the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee the UK is the second largest donor in cash terms and sixth largest donor in GNI contribution. This commitment is also reflected in the public support for many UK charities who work abroad. The DUP supports:

  • The UK target of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) being dedicated to Foreign Aid.
  • The target should be on a 5-year rolling basis. The annual nature of the spending target can mean substantial amounts of money being allocated in short-time frames and poorly spent. This maintains the commitment and ensures better value for money.
  • A proportion of this new long-term budget should be assigned for environmental work with a bond scheme considered to provide long-term investment for major initiatives such as reforestation.
  • Regular reviews of safeguarding practices by agencies supported through foreign aid to prevent a repeat of past abuses by aid workers.

Representing British Interests Effectively 

There must be a proactive and positive plan for UK global engagement:

  • Maintaining a diplomatic presence across the world - The UK’s influence on the world stage and ability to be an effective player is dependent on a strong global presence and a Foreign and Commonwealth Office with first class people and skills. The next government must ensure that such work is properly funded with clear goals for what the UK wants and needs to achieve.
  • Commonwealth – The Commonwealth countries represent a global network that we have consistently underappreciated and underutilised especially on issues of trade. Many Commonwealth members are transforming economically and socially. The UK must seek to deepen these relationships both on an individual and collective basis.
  • Defending British Sovereignty - The DUP supports the people of the Falklands and Gibraltar. Their expressed desire to remain linked to the United Kingdom is admirable and must be respected and if necessary defended. 

Libyan Assets and Victims

The weaponry supplied by the Libyan government to the PIRA cost so many lives. The DUP supports: 

  • UK victims properly compensated from the Libyan seized assets.

Defending Fundamental Human Rights 

The DUP successfully urged the government to take seriously international human rights abuses against Christians and other faith groups. This work needs to be continued in the next Parliament through:

  • Retaining and strengthening role of the Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief with necessary financial and administrative support.
  • Implementation of the recommendations of the Truro Review.
  • Prioritising the protection of Freedom of Religion and Belief and other human rights in trade negotiations and trade deals, regardless of the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.
  • Retaining the Foreign Secretary’s Human Rights Advisory Group, and ensure that there are at least three representatives from civil society which specialise on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

Immigration System 

The United Kingdom should develop a pointsbased immigration system that will be built around attracting the best of global talent to the United Kingdom and addressing the skills gaps within our labour market. The system must also address localised labour needs through not only a national skills gap list but supplementary lists for the constituent parts of the United Kingdom.

A New Long-Term National Defence Approach

The DUP does not believe that the current defence arrangements for the United Kingdom are adequate enough to cope with either the existing or the emerging threats of the 21st Century. It is clear from the decision-making of the Ministry of Defence that they do not have confidence in its own Defence and National Security Reviews.

Part of our Confidence and Supply Agreement was a commitment to the UK maintaining the NATO target of 2% of GDP for the Defence Budget. However, this was always a minimum target, a floor not a ceiling, and 2% is significantly below the traditional proportion of GDP that the UK has spent on defence. While the public discussion has focused on the impact of public spending restrictions over the last decade defence has seen a steady reduction over 30 years.

The result is the British military industrial complex is no longer in a position to reconstitute large numbers of manpower or materiel to meet the needs of a national crisis. Therefore, Defence needs to embark on a medium-term strategy of enhanced investment to restore the size of our Armed Forces to a position that more accurately reflects the threats we face and the strategic ambition to retain P5 status at the UN and play a leading role in NATO. We must always retain the capacity to operate independently in the national interest when required whilst ensuring that we offer credible support to our key strategic ally, the US, and other partners.

Conflicts in the Middle East, instability in Eastern Europe, international terrorism and the proliferation of cyber-attacks illustrate the multiplicity of threats, both conventional and unconventional, and not just from states but also trans-national groups of linked terror movements. 

This is further exacerbated by the displacements of large numbers of refugees within which small numbers of those with malevolent intent seek to hide. This places additional burdens on the defence, security and intelligence apparatus of the country. There is an ever-greater need to strengthen the ability of our forces to deploy rapidly and to adapt to new threats. 

The dissident Republican terrorist threat is a major concern to all our citizens in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The intelligence community and our security forces must be given a budget and rules of engagement that enable them not only to gather the intelligence required to deter the threat from Republican splinter groups but also to actively pursue such terrorists and defeat them.

This is the DUP’s Plan to strengthen the UK’s defences and support service personnel and veterans.

1. National strategic defence & security review

Post-Brexit, the UK must reconsider its strategic position in terms of Defence and Security. Government needs to give a clear strategic vision of the UK’s place in the world and our strategic aims and ambitions. A Review needs to be conducted, independent of government, in order that we have an honest assessment of our current capability and capacity. That will generate a clear indication of the ‘gap’ between what we need to do and what we are currently able to do. Then decisions can be taken about the level of funding required to close the ‘gap’ or the level of risk Government is willing to take on National Security. 

2. 2% plus spending target – A new UK target for Defence spending 

The National Strategic Defence and Security Review would be the basis to establish a new UK defence spending, a target we call ‘2% plus’ to plan for systematic defence spending increases.

In addition to this new target there should be a long-term (5 year) capital settlement for equipment needs of the Armed Forces. This will enable better planning, sustainable defence contracts and as a result greater value for money.

3. Full implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant across the United Kingdom

Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom with both an immense contribution to, and debt to, our Armed Forces for the protection they provided in the successful execution of Operation Banner. This is partly why fulfilling the Military Covenant is particularly important for us.

We believe that the Military Covenant should be reviewed and updated. The DUP supports the introduction of the Office for Veterans Affairs to co-ordinate cross government efforts to ensure the Covenant is fully implemented. The DUP is conscious how equality legislation in Northern Ireland has been used to hamper the fulfilment of both the spirit and the practical elements of the Covenant here. It wishes to see this situation ended and veterans in Northern Ireland to be treated equally to veterans right across the United Kingdom. The DUP also believes that British military veterans living in the Republic of Ireland should also have unfettered access to the benefits of the Covenant.

For serving soldiers the DUP supports the recommendation of the Defence Select Committee to remove Crown Protection to force action to reduce deaths in training.

4. Maintaining our independent nuclear deterrent, and tackling nuclear proliferation 

The DUP supports the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent and will continue to support Trident’s renewal. We believe the UK should use all international forums to completely overhaul the approaches to counter proliferation and prevent the likes of Iran and North Korea developing and further proliferating such capabilities. We believe that all of the funding of the nuclear deterrent programme should be ring-fenced outside of the Defence budget, recognising the unique nature of this National critical strategic asset.

5. Playing a full role in international military and security relationships 

The DUP supports our participation in NATO but shares the American concerns that other members are consistently failing to fulfil the minimum spending target. The development of the European Union Defence Force attempts to hide this chronic underinvestment, and contributes to incoherent responses to threats already dealt with by existing international structures such as NATO and the United Nations. 

6. A Cybersecurity leader for the United Kingdom 

Cyber activity continues to evolve as a dominant threat to global security. The knowledge economy in Northern Ireland has developed a cybersecurity specialism and DUP believes this is a critical area where Northern Ireland could contribute to countering the growing threat to national and global security. We support the expansion of cybersecurity research and the creation of a National Cyber Security ‘hub’ in Northern Ireland.

7. Investing in a success story – Northern Ireland and Reserve Forces

The contribution and role of Reserve Forces is a key element of Defence capability. Northern Ireland’s contribution to UK reserves is disproportionate to our size and this contribution needs to be matched by the necessary investment in facilities and infrastructure in Northern Ireland. The DUP wants a £15m investment package to upgrade reserve training facilities at Ballykinler, Enniskillen, Ballymena, Coleraine, Londonderry and Belfast.

As recognition of past service the DUP will support:

A new Combined Military Museum for Northern Ireland in partnership with national museums to develop a prestigious tourist attraction.

8. A review of the present terrorism legislation 

The DUP believes that considering the multifaceted evolving and insidious nature of the terrorist threat it is time to review whether present arrangements need to be updated or upgraded.

This review should include:

  • An updated legal framework for intelligence led anti-terrorism investigations and operations in the UK
  • A UK wide definition of a victim which excludes perpetrators.
  • Changes to the glorification of terrorism offences with an examination of the 20-year time limit.
  • Consideration of Intelligence and Security Committee membership representing all regions of the UK 

9. Legal Protections for Soldiers and Veterans

The fundamental failures of the Iraq Historical Investigations Team (IHAT) and the disproportionate focus upon security personnel in Legacy Investigations demonstrate a clear need to provide better protections for those who saw active service or contributed to the fight against terrorism. With IHAT veterans hounded on a series of false allegations and in Northern Ireland Legacy Cases almost all security force related deaths are being reinvestigated while only a fraction of paramilitary killings have been. The Defence Select Committee proposed a Qualified Statute of Limitations. The DUP recognises the importance of all service personnel upholding the very highest standards in order to maintain the reputation of the forces and the colleagues they serve alongside. We are supportive in principle of exploring protections for the armed forces where they would not lead to an amnesty or be restricted to operations outside the United Kingdom.

10. Valuing Soldiers’ Service

The condition and maintenance of much Army housing is unacceptable. Decent housing provision for Service personnel and their families should be the minimum not the target.

The DUP supports:

  • A new long-term plan for Army housing and maintenance of stock.

Armed Forces Personnel, born outside the United Kingdom, should be welcomed when they choose to settle in the UK.

The DUP supports:

  • Waiving indefinite leave to remain fees for former service personnel and their families applying to take up their right to settle here.

11. Resisting attempts to rewrite the past

Ninety percent of those who died during the Troubles were killed by paramilitaries yet the balance of investigations is disproportionately against former police officers and soldiers. A onesided approach only serves those who want to re-write the past and glorify terrorism.

It is only natural that the public are outraged to see former soldiers who stood against the brutal terrorism of the seventies and eighties instigated by the IRA, now being hounded while those who hid behind balaclavas to avoid justice are given ‘hero’ status and places on Policing Boards.

Our troubled past can only be dealt with effectively in an honest and holistic manner, not the partial way republicans would wish. Government needs to ensure terrorists are pursued, with full police powers to conduct effective and comprehensive investigations and arrest suspects. We will do everything we can to assist innocent victims to obtain a measure of justice.

12. Bringing Armed Forces Day to Northern Ireland 

It is unacceptable that Northern Ireland has never hosted the main national event for Armed Forces Day in the UK. The DUP wish to see Northern Ireland host the main national event at some point in the life of the next Parliament and regularly thereafter. It would be a welcome addition to a programme of events to celebrate Northern Ireland’s Centenary in 2021.