Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) launch their Westminster election manifesto

The Social Democratic and Labour Party have today launched their manifesto for the 2024 general election. They have made a range of commitments such as political reform, action on health and education. We've picked out the key points for you.
SDLP candidates launch their manifesto today in party leader Colum Eastwood's constituency of Foyle. Image: SDLP

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) have launched their 2024 general election manifesto.

In 2019 the SDLP won back two of the seats that they lost in 2017 – Foyle and Belfast South.

Party leader Colum Eastwood’s message in their manifesto begins with, “This election is about change.”

“It is the clearest opportunity we have had in more than a decade to put an end to the politics of austerity, isolation and division that have driven governments for 14 brutal years.”

“Almost five years ago people from every community came together to cast their votes for change. After two years where the only voices from here at Westminster were the DUP, who used that power to cause chaos, voters came out in huge numbers and decided to use their voice.”

“SDLP MPs are best placed to deliver change because we will have the strongest relationship with a new government.”

As usual we have went through their manifesto and picked out the key points for you.

A new start

The SDLP say that “fourteen years of Conservative government have been a disaster for people and communities in Northern Ireland.”

They say their team at Westminster will use their influence at Westminster with the Labour Party – who are widely expected to form the next Government.

Both the SDLP and Labour are members of the Party of European Socialists.

They also want to see reform of the institutions at Stormont to stop one party from preventing the formation of a government.

Rescuing public services

The party have said they will “work with others to press for improvements in the North’s fiscal framework, and in particular a comprehensive spending review which allows Stormont to set priorities over the long term, with multi-year budgets to deliver on those priorities.”

As the opposition at Stormont, they say they have “led the way in holding the Executive to account.”

“We are yet to see details of the revenue-raising package that Executive parties agreed to in return for debt forgiveness with the Treasury.”

On public sector pay, they say they will “fight for a fair deal for public sector workers, acknowledging years of underinvestment in them and the services they operate.”

Health service

The SDLP say the Health Service needs a “Marshall Plan style intervention, acknowledging the scale of underinvestment in services, the urgency of transformation to benefit patients, health service staff and communities across NI.”

They will “make representations directly to the Treasury for a health service transformation intervention.”

Also saying they will “argue for a government-backed indemnity scheme for GPs in Northern Ireland to avert the unnecessary closure of local practices.”


They say that teachers and school staff should have an increase in pay above inflation.

Also, they confirm their support for the Irish Language sector, “including ensuring that Irish-medium education is fully supported.”

The Education Authority – the organisation responsible for delivering education throughout NI – the SDLP say they are “unconvinced that the Education Authority is fit for purpose”, and say they would support a review of the Authority remit and structures.


The party say their MPs will support the “creation of a strategy that is tailored to the sectors that have most to gain from the Protocol/Windsor Framework”. They also want to see a new ‘European Investment Hub’ for Northern Ireland.

“The SDLP believes that a strong all-island economy benefits all the people of this island and creates new opportunities for NI business to trade on an all-island basis.”

They want to see the VAT threshold increased to £100,000, and a reduction in the “unnecessary personal guarantees in small business lending.”

Investing in skills

The SDLP want to see a “full-size university campus at Magee of at least 10,000 students.”

“Achieving a full-size university in Derry is a critical lever to drive economic development in the region and ensuring an equitable distribution of student numbers across the North-West is critical to generating sustainable and broad-based economic development.”

They want a review of higher education funding, including student fees, and to remove the maximum student numbers cap, which means Universities here can only enrol a certain number of students from the island of Ireland.

Also, they say they are “committed to properly funding apprenticeships, including through working closely with the private sector to expand the number of Higher-Level Apprenticeships, particularly in places of disadvantage.”

An end to zero-hour contracts and an equal minimum wage for all ages is also something they have committed to, along with ensuring that flexible working is a “day-one right”.


The SDLP say they will “lobby a new UK government to increase the rate of tax-free childcare to 35% and lift the annual cap.”

An Early Education and Childcare Strategy is something they want to see “to transform early education and childcare in Northern Ireland.”

“SDLP MPs will work with the UK Treasury and NI Executive to ring-fence any Barnett consequential that arise specifically as higher spending on childcare in Britain.”

Climate crisis

“SDLP MPs will always support ambitious climate legislation at Westminster. In the last mandate, we supported the Climate & Nature Bill aimed at rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reversing biodiversity loss and building consensus for a just transition”, the SDLP manifesto says.

They also want to see a recovery plan for Lough Neagh to address the “ecological crisis”, and want to see steps taken to “upgrade the Wastewater Treatment Works around Lough Neagh, introduce unannounced sampling of water, enforce existing regulation on pollution with fines when necessary, and increase inspections of farms.”


They want to see investment in our public transport, including improving accessibility throughout the transport network.

In terms of rail, they want to see delivery on their “all-island strategic rail review”.

Their manifesto lists the A5 and the A6 as key projects they want to see completed.

Justice and legacy

The SDLP oppose the Legacy Act introduced by the Conservative government.

“In Westminster, the SDLP successfully lobbied the UK Labour Party to commit to repeal the Legacy Act in the next Parliament, SDLP MPs will hold the Labour Party to account on that commitment if elected.”

“We will continue to challenge the PSNI on the recruitment, retention and promotion policies especially with regard to underrepresented groups.”

“The SDLP continues to believe that the recruitment, retention and promotion of officers and civilian staff from the Catholic tradition is a pressing challenge for the PSNI and requires the deployment of every measure including affirmative action.”

They say that “we must end paramilitarism and associated criminality in our society once and for all.”

You can read the SDLP’s manifesto in full below, or by clicking here.

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