On the 18th of April 2017, British Prime Minster Theresa May stood outside of Number 10 Downing Street and announced to the British public, that a general election would be held on the 8th of June. She stated that “Britain needed, certainty, stability and strong leadership” and that The Conservative government had delivered and even exceeded on these expectations. The ‘snap election’ threw people in different directions. People expected it, people wanted it and a lot of people didn’t (and still don’t) care about it.
We, the general public, become subjected to the ‘same old, same old’ come election time. Party leaders announce their manifestos, pledge their devotion and passion towards a cause for ‘the British people’ and the rest. We watch the televised debates, read their interviews in the papers, listen to them on the radio, follow them on social media. But, we get caught in the crunch. We get so caught up in the rabid mess of a general election, that we forget to go back to the basics, what are they offering us?
That, is why I’ve written this blog post. I have read through the manifestos for The Conservative Party, The Labour Party, The Liberal Democrats, The UK Independence Party and The Green Party and decided to give an analytical overview of each. I have overheard so many people say that they don’t know who they are voting for because ‘all of the parties sound the same’ or ‘they are too similar’, so I have outlined some of the main points from each.
The Conservative Party: FORWARD, TOGETHER. Our plan for a stronger Britain and a prosperous future.
The Conservatives open their manifesto with Theresa May stating that “The next five years are the most challenging that Britain has faced in my lifetime”, she proceeds to tell us that we need a ‘strong and stable leadership’ as well as a plan to guide us through the times ahead, so that “we will build a stronger, fairer more prosperous Britain, for all of us”. But, does this reassure the public? Under David Cameron the Tory government made cut after cut, slashing through our public services and leaving the majority of us with the bare minimum, can Theresa May do any better? Or will she fall to the Tory pattern of empty promises?
The Manifesto then outlines the “Five giant challenges”, these are the main issues that the Conservative government will address if voted into Number 10:
1) The need for a strong economy: The Conservatives explain that paying your tax is part of living in an ‘civilised democracy’, because of that they will aim to keep tax as low as possible. Also, corporation tax will fall to 17% by 2020, this is the lowest it has ever been. Now, are we still talking about an inclusive society? What about the deficit? Will a conservative’s ‘strong economy’ give us this?
2) Brexit and a changing world: On the 23rd of June 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union, aptly named ‘brexit’. The Conservatives want a “smooth and orderly departure from the European Union” (don’t will all?), but will that be achieved? Theresa May addresses our ‘allies’ and ‘friends’, even in the manifesto she states “a deep and special partnership” but where is that partnership? And how long will it last? The negotiations will be a self-serving policy, the Conservative government will do whatever that ‘deem’ is right, and will effectively trample on anyone who gets in the way – where will our friends and allies be then?
3) Enduring social divisions: This tiny term covers a lot. Here, The Conservatives state that, although we have produced a “world class education”, funding across schools is inadequate and unfair. To solve this, they plan on increasing the school budget to £4 billion by 2022, but to fund this they do not believe that providing free school meals is a “sensible use of public money”. In terms of immigration, The Conservatives believe that net migration is still too high (estimated at 273,000) they want students to leave the country after they have finished their course, unless they meet new “higher requirements that allow them to work in Britain after their studies”. Now what exactly does that mean? What are these “higher requirements”? When talking about immigration, it is always pointed out that students are welcome because they will benefit our society, now they are on the chopping block too?
4) An ageing society: The Conservatives want to “respond to the reality of an ageing society, giving people security in old age”, in a press conference Theresa May u-turned her manifesto policies by stating that people would have to pay for social care through their assets (including their homes) if they reached a floor of £100,000. She will also diminish winter fuel payments for the wealthier pensioners. I believe that this is going to backfire on Mrs May as she is attacking the bedrock of The Conservative party support system. Furthermore, statistics have shown that there are now half a million more people living over the age of 90 in the UK, this means we need a feasible, long-term plan for social care in the UK.
5) Fast changing technology: The Conservatives are dedicated to expanding the technical capability of The United Kingdom, one example is that by 2022 mobile phone coverage will expand to 95% of the UK, with all trains and main road enjoying interrupted service. And by 2027, they aim to have the entire country covered by a 5G signal. Now, how cost effect is this? With Brexit around the corner, it is expected that phone tariffs will increase in price, what does this mean for The Conservatives?
The Labour Party: A manifesto for a better, fairer Britain.
– Creating an economy that works for all: The Labour party has been dedicated towards creating a realistic economy, but their proposals have come under fire by many. For The Labour party, the change in tax regulation is the main answer for funding the changes that they want to implement in this country. They plan to raise corporation tax to 26%, this will make it the highest it has ever been, and if you earn over £80,000 your tax will also be increased. This will generate an extra £30 billion pounds a year. To continue, The Labour party would give more power and resources to HMRC (HM Revenue and Customers) to “clamp down hard” on individuals and companies that try to avoid paying their tax.
– Negotiating Brexit: The Labour Party plan to scrap any negotiations already established by the Conservative government and start fresh with news terms and conditions that put workers and jobs first. They will pledge to remain within the single market, and keep the benefits that the memberships provides. However, this decision has been heavily critised by the British public, as they believe we need to re-establish a sense of ‘Nationhood’ – putting Britain and the British people first, before we aid other countries. Also, the general public are displeased over contributing (in total) €115 billion a year within the single market.
– Healthcare for all: “We will guarantee and uphold the standards of service to which patients are legally entitled under the NHS constitution.” Within their manifesto The Labour Party has said that they will guarantee treatment within the 18 week waiting period, and pledge to remove 1 million people off the waiting list by the next government. To continue, they plan to increase the quality of GP services by investing the £30 billion made from the increase in tax, this would eliminate the ‘postcode lottery’. Meaning that, regardless of where in the country you live, you would be able to access free, quality healthcare. However, Labour have been critised for not accounting the stress and pressure this would put on GPs. And that the claim that the NHS funded through corporation tax is a pretense.
– Towards a national education service: Jermery Corbyn wants to invest in the young people because he believes that investing in the young will benefit our society. And that starts with investing in education. “when it fails, it isn’t just the individual that is held back, but all of us”. The Labour Party manifesto states that they will not “waste money” on grammar schools and will oppose any legislation that forces secondary schools to become academies. They will also reduced class sizes to below 30 as they believe that any more does not create the right environment for a child to learn, they argue that they do not receive the attention that is needed. Finally, Labour wish to abolish university tuition fess and reintroduce the maintenance grants, with this starting as early as September 2017. However, The Labour manifesto has been deemed ‘unrealistic’. People don’t disagree with their ideas or policies, they just don’t believe them to be credible or achievable.
Liberal Democrats: Change Britain’s future.
– The Liberal Democrats want a second referendum on whether or not we should leave the European Union. They argue that, on the first ballot, there should have been an option to remain, but to renegotiate terms. Essentially, if the Liberal democrats come into power, they will negotiate new terms and then put that to a referendum, with the option to remain on the ballot paper. This decision has been heavily critised by members of the public, we’ve made our bed and we should lay in it. So to speak. They also believe that we should remain within the single market, as it “smooths trade between the UK and the other continents by providing a common ‘rule book’ for businesses”.
– “The NHS has been the envy of the world, but it is now facing the greatest crisis in its history and we urgently need to increase its funding.” The Liberal Democrats want to established an effective NHS that will benefit the British people for generations. They plan on funding the rejuvenation through a 1p increase on basic and higher tax, this would create an extra £6 billion and that would be redirected to the NHS and social care only. “Our long-term objective will be to bring together NHS and social care into one seamless service – pooling budgets in every area by 2020 and developing integrated care organisations.” But they have not stated how they would do that, how cost effective it would be and whether or not it would be beneficial.
– The Liberal democrats want to put an end to education cuts across Britain. They plan on decreasing class sizes, protecting per-pupil funding and ending the 1% cap on teachers pay rises. They state that over this parliament this, along with much more, would total a cost of £7 billion, but they have not stated where that money would come from.
– They also state in their manifesto that they plan to eliminated deficit in day-to-day spending by 2020 and once expenditure is down only ‘borrow to invest’. The end of that statement is very conflicting because they have not explained exactly what that means, to invest in what? And how much would they need to borrow? Would this not just bring us full circle? Also, they would reverse the Conservative decision to lower corporation tax from 20% to 17%.
– The liberal Democrats are committed to helping families and communities across the country., this is why they pledge to provide 15 hours a week of free childcare to parents and families who have children under the age of two. With the long-term plan of committing 30 hours a week for all families with children between the ages of two and four. This may help parents in regards to work, but they have not detailed where these children would go or how they would fund this.
– Finally they also state that they will “close the housing gap” by building 300,000 new homes by the end of each year, 500,000 of which will be affordable homes. But what are ‘affordable homes’? Affordable for who?
The Green Party: The Green Party for a confident and caring Britain.
– The Green party campaigned to remain within the European Union, and therefore believe that the negotiated terms should be highly scrutinised. This means that they believe that another referendum should be held once the final terms have been decided. If the British public finds them not to be favorable, then we will remain within the EU. Furthermore, they are also campaigning to remain within the single market as they believe that it provides “vital rights for people and the environment”. Again, this decision for another referendum has been highly critised; the British public voted, we obtained a result and now we have to act on that result and move forward.
– The Green Party state that public services should be run by the people, for the people, and protest against any privatisation of the NHS. They want to introduced mental health care in correlation with physical health care, to insure that people who are experiencing mental health problems are fully provided for. Finally, they want an immediate cash injection to ensure that every member of the public can see a GP if needed, hospitals are able to run effectively and all staff are paid properly. However, The Green Party have been critised, as they have not accounted for the costs of these changes.
– Also they pledge to “Bring energy, water, railways, buses, the Royal Mail and care work back into public ownership to give communities real control of the public services that has been lost over the past 30 years”. The general public are worried that The Green party have not provided them with enough information regarding the process of this proposal. Additionally, main criticise it for being too expensive.
– In regards to education, The Green party plan on decreasing class sizes and SATS. As they feel that both hinder a child’s ability to learn, SATS put too much pressure at an early age and increased classroom sizes means that children do not get the right amount of attention. The Green Party also state that they would abolish all university tuition, reintroduce maintenance grants and lower the voting age to 16.
– In their manifesto, The Green Party states that they will tackle the rising housing crisis in the UK by bringing it under control. They would do this by creating 100,000 affordable, social rented homes each year, by 2022. Additionally they would also abolish the bedroom tax and reinstate housing benefits for individuals under the age of 21.
The UK Independence Party: Britain together.
– The UK Independence Party believe that we should have already left the European Union. In their manifesto they state that “Repealing the European Communities Act (1972) should be the first, not the last step in the leaving process. There is no legal or moral obligation to use Article 50; we have the legal right to withdraw from the EU unilaterally”. They believe that it is beneficial for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union as soon as possible, because then we can regain control over: immigration, border control, fishing and farming trade etc. They established 6 tests that the government have to pass, once those test had been passed, only then can The United Kingdom leave the EU with the deal that they voted for on the 23rd of June.
In relation to immigration, The UK Independence party want to create a one in, one out point based immigration system, this process would also include an attitude test to stop people with certain beliefs from entering the country. It also states in the party manifesto that “To give working class people in particular a chance to find employment, we will place a moratorium on unskilled and low-skilled immigration for five years after we leave the EU”. The immigration policy from The UK Independence Party has been scrutinised and has been labelled as racist and xenophobic for isolating immigrants and has been likened to Donald Trumps ‘muslim ban’.
– The UK Independence Party will not raise any taxes, but instead will increase the income tax threshold to £55,000 and the inheritance tax threshold to £500,000 per individual. To contrast, they plan to “scrap the existing commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid and reduce the aid budget to 0.2 per cent of GDP instead”. Additionally they would also close The Department of International Development (they deal with poverty, disease and mass migration), this would save an extra “10 billion a year that would go towards the NHS.
– Furthermore, The UK Independence Party plan to pledge and extra £9 billion, a year, towards the NHS. This money would come from cutting foreign aid. Using this money would allow for more people to go to medical school, meaning that by 2025 The UK Independence party would hope to have an additional 10,000 GPs across the country. But again, they have be critised for being too extreme. Later on in their manifesto they state that “only British citizens or foreign nationals who have paid UK taxes for at least five consecutive years will be eligible for non-urgent NHS care”. Many have argued that cutting foreign aid to pay for improvements for the NHS is not a comprehensive plan, and that (arguably) we leave more people disadvantaged.
Me, personally? It’s Labour all the way. It’s quite simple really, due to poor voter turn out in my age demographic, society offers me very little. The Conservatives promise to offer me even less. So I believe that Jermery Corbyn is the only mainstream politician that offers anything of worth to the young people of The United Kingdom.
I hope that some of this information has been beneficial, or will at least allow you to make a more informed decision on Thursday. I could have gone into more detail, as I barely touched upon most policies/subjects. But if you have the time, I would highly recommend that you read a party manifesto, they are very enlightening!
And remember… VOTE ON THURSDAY 8TH JUNE.