SYP Elections Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct for 2019 SYP Election

As the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people, the Scottish Youth Parliament has a duty of care to the Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), and the other young people with whom we work. We seek to provide a safe space for young people, and empower them to truly represent the voice of Scotland’s young people.

This Code of Conduct is designed to ensure that all election candidates are aware of, and understand, their role in ensuring the Scottish Youth Parliament is a safe space that values and respects all young people and protects the reputation and integrity of the organisation.

Our Values

Young People who express an interest in standing, SYP Election candidates, MSYP-elects, and MSYPs are expected to support SYP’s values:

Democracy – We are youth-led and accountable to young people aged 14 to 25. Our democratic structure, and the scale of our engagement across Scotland gives us a mandate that sets us apart from other organisations.

Rights – We are a fundamentally rights-based organisation. We are passionate about making young people aware of their rights, and ensuring that local and national government deliver policies that allow those rights to be upheld.

Inclusion – We are committed to being truly inclusive and work tirelessly to ensure the voices of every young person from every community and background in Scotland are heard.

Political Impartiality – We are independent from all political parties. By working with all stakeholders, groups, and individuals who share our values, we can deliver the policies that are most important to young people.

Young People who express an interest in standing, SYP Election candidates, MSYP-elects, and MSYPs are expected to agree to the following elements of the SYP Code of Conduct. 

Respect

The Scottish Youth Parliament adopts a zero tolerance policy on bullying or aggressive/abusive behaviour in any context or setting.

Every election candidate, MSYP-elect and MSYP will respect all other MSYPs and persons with whom they come into contact with as a result of their role, including online activity. Additionally, SYP’s brand and reputation will be respected.

Any incidents must be reported to a Support Worker, or a member of the SYP Staff team. The Scottish Youth Parliament shall seriously consider any breach of this obligation, regardless of the capacity in which the breach was made and in what setting, where the organisation has reasonable grounds to do so.

In addition to decisions made by the Scottish Youth Parliament, any local decisions made by supporting organisations and/or local authorities must be abided by.

Equality

The Scottish Youth Parliament is committed to the implementation of Equal Opportunities throughout its work. In its meetings, activities, services and as an employer, no person shall be discriminated against.

Scottish Youth Parliament does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment (including transgender and transsexual identity), marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation (the “Protected Characteristics”).

Political Impartiality Policy

Under charity law, the Scottish Youth Parliament must not advance a political party.

SYP is a non-party-political organisation.  Remaining impartial ensures that we are able to legitimately work with decisions makers from all parties on the issues that matter to young people. Political impartially is fundamental to the credibility and integrity of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

As an potential candidate you do not represent a party, a campaign, or a campaign in a referendum.

In order to ensure SYP complies with charity law, all young people involved with the organisation are required to comply with the following obligations:

  • You must remain free, and be seen to remain free, from any party political influence whilst representing your constituents.
  • You must ensure that it is clear that you do not represent a political party or designated campaign in your role and that in your capacity as an candidate you do not endorse any political party or designated campaign in a referendum.
  • You must not use SYP resources, including your presence or speaking time at SYP events, in a way which would clearly express a view that a person should vote for a party or a designated campaign.
  • You are entitled to hold a personal opinion on the outcome of any election or referendum, but it must be clear when this opinion is expressed that it is held in a personal capacity and not in your capacity as a candidate.
  • You are entitled to be active, or hold membership of political parties, but you must make it clear that you are doing so in a personal capacity. Any social media account where you identify yourself as a candidate, you should not include details of your membership or activism.
  • You should refrain from publicly endorsing a political party or designated campaign through social media, where you identify yourself as affiliated to the Scottish Youth Parliament or discuss your work with the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Social Media and Online Behaviour Policy

The Scottish Youth Parliament has a Social Media and Online Behaviour Policy to protect MSYPs as well as the organisation.

  • It is encouraged that election candidates make use of an ‘official’ candidate Facebook or Twitter
  • These pages should not be used for any personal reason and should follow in-line with all relevant SYP policies.
  • Social media cannot be used to attack, harass or humiliate or bring the SYP into disrepute. 
  • The Scottish Youth Parliament adopts a zero tolerance to bullying and abusive/aggressive behaviour. This policy extends to online behaviour.
  • You are reminded that statements such as ‘All tweets are my own’ and ‘These tweets do not represent the views of my organisation’ are unlikely to give any legal protection, should you make an offensive/illegal comment and they may also impact on SYP.
  • Any comment which could be construed as offensive or abusive, or online bullying of any description, regardless in which capacity it was made (including through a personal social media account), is unacceptable through this policy.
  • The advice of the SYP is to think before you send! The Scottish Youth Parliament recognises that young people have a wide range of views, and we encourage this. However, think about whether your comments could negatively impact the organisation and the young people you represent.
  • Personal social media accounts which identify you as a supporter, member or activist of a political party should be kept separate from your work with SYP in line with the Political Impartiality policy above.
  • The Scottish Youth Parliament recognises that online engagement (i.e. including all social media and messaging services) provides a useful way of staying in touch in between Sittings, and more generally to build friendships and positive relationships.

    Breaches of the Code of Conduct

Candidates are subject to the Complaints Procedure and the Disciplinary Code. These have distinct roles.

The Complaints Procedure deals with complaints about candidates, MSYPs, staff members and Support Workers. These can be from internal and external bodies. Depending on the nature of the activity, a number of options are available, including dealing with issues informally.

The Disciplinary Code is used when the organisation considers a breach of our Internal Policies, including this Code of Conduct has occurred and formal action is required.

SYP is also aware that these documents are complex and is happy to be contacted with any questions or a summary of an area of the policy. The Scottish Youth Parliament will work with the relevant local authority and Support Workers to support the young people involved in these processes, and will endeavour to ensure they are implemented in a youth friendly manner, where their rights and dignity are promoted and respected.