And… we’re off! The third general election in 5 years has well and truly begun. All sides have started firing their slogans and promises onto our television screens, doorsteps and Facebook feeds.
But it seems that there is more at stake for all sides in this election than any other in recent history. Obviously, there’s Brexit that still hasn’t been sorted after years of negotiations and rejections. Labour seem to be avoiding mentioning Brexit at all costs. The Conservatives rarely mention anything else unless it’s been said after their now-famous slogan “Get Brexit Done” and the Liberal Democrats are being anything but liberal or democratic, with their promise to Stop Brexit and revoke Article 50 on day one should they form a majority government (which is extremely unlikely, but who knows what could happen in today’s political climate?)
In this election, however, it seems to me that all sides are as bad as each other. The Conservatives have been caught editing a GMB interview so it seemed the person being interviewed couldn’t answer the question, something that wasn’t true. Labour aren’t exactly the best people to be in charge of our national security – especially with it’s leader being firmly against firing nuclear weapons should they need to. And the Liberal Democrats have been caught blatantly lying about headlines of newspaper articles, saying that The Guardian had published an article with the full headline “Lib Dems winning and on-the-up after by-election victory” when in fact they were quoting the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson.
And let’s not forget the smaller parties. The SNP is demanding two referendums: a second Scottish independence referendum and a second Brexit referendum. The Brexit Party said they would stand in every seat that wasn’t in Northern Ireland, before removing candidates from seats currently held by the Conservatives. (As I’m writing, the deadline to register candidates has just passed and they have stood down in a further few seats.)
Labour and Green Party borrowing pledges
The Green Party (as well as Labour) have pledged to spend hundreds of billions of pounds to spend on improving public transport and the environment. But how are they going to pay for all this? Well, as well as taxing more out of the rich, they are going to borrow hundreds of billions of pounds. How they are going to pay this back hasn’t been made clear.It’s not just Labour pledging to borrow money – the Conservatives are at it too. Sajid Javid has pledged billions of pounds to improve infrastructure, including upgrading hospitals and railways. It seems they have dropped some of the tax cuts they were going to make to pay for this. (And, as I am writing this, the Liberal Democrats have also said they will spend £100 billion preventing climate change. They say most of the money will be borrowed, with the rest being funded by tax changes.)
Brexit, Brexit, Brexit…
The real deciding factor of who will win this election will certainly be Brexit. The positions of the three main political parties on this are quite clear:
The Conservatives want to get their negotiated Brexit deal through Parliament, which Boris (or Alexander “de Pfeffel” Johnson if you want to use his real name) says that he needs a Parliamentary majority to do. The majority of Boris’ deal is exactly the same as Theresa May’s deal, but removing the controversial Irish backstop and replacing it with a border in the Irish sea. The DUP didn’t support the deal in Parliament because of this border.
What the Labour Party would do on Brexit hasn’t been made clear until very recently. Labour want to negotiate their own deal, where the UK would stay in the single market AND the customs union, amongst other things, before putting their deal “back to the people” in a second referendum, alongside Remain. In that referendum, Labour would probably campaign against their own deal.
The Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, have been very clear about their demands on Brexit. They want to revoke Article 50 “on day one” should they form a majority government.
The party leaders
All of the party leaders are certainly as bad as each other. In this section, I’m not just going to talk about their past, but their actions in Parliament as well as during this election campaign so far.
First up is Boris Johnson. He used to work for The Telegraph (and still writes columns whenever he wants to get a point across.) Boris, along with the other Vote Leave campaigners, has been accused of lying about a variety of things. To be fair, he’s not the only one who’s playing the lying game, as we’ll see later.
He has also been accused of Islamophobia after comparing burkas to letterboxes in a Telegraph column. Boris does have a history of being against people wearing the burka as the Mayor of London. The column itself is paywalled, but I found an article from 2013 with him criticising children being forced to wear the burka as “against [the UK’s] values of liberty.”
But Jeremy Corbyn is no saviour either. His past has certainly come back to haunt him in this campaign, like it did in the last election. You only need to look at the Contents table of his Wikipedia page to see why. He has been involved with members of the IRA, supported the people who bombed the Israeli embassy amongst other things.
Jo Swinson is a new face in national politics. She was the Liberal Democrat Business Minister in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government from 2012 to 2015. Unlike the Conservative and Labour leaders, she was educated at state schools (Boris was educated at various boarding schools, Jeremy went to a fee-paying primary school) and, for many voters, seems to be more down-to-earth than either Jeremy or Boris.
However, many people are unhappy with her stance on stopping Brexit. Many think that it is undemocratic to halt Brexit entirely, as 52% of people in the referendum voted to Leave. I do agree with this view that stopping Brexit without any explicit confirmation from the general public. On the other hand, I admire the Liberal Democrats picking a position and effectively sticking to it since September 2016, where they first mentioned a second referendum on Brexit. Until recently (where the Labour Party officially called for a 2nd referendum) the only people who were calling for a so-called “People’s Vote” were people who wanted to remain inside the European Union.
The Liberal Democrats have been trying to stop Brexit in it’s tracks over the past three years, with Jo Swinson and other opposition leaders sending letters to and meeting with EU officials in order to persuade them to reject the proposals being put in front of them. This is effectively lobbying – and many could see it as corruption.
I don’t think her not being included in the debate between Boris and Jeremy, the two main party leaders, is sexist. Nigel Farage, who was standing in every UK seat at the time, wasn’t included either. And he’s clearly not a woman! So… not sexist. (And the courts seem to agree!)
In all of the elections that I remember, I have always thought that one side was better than the other. The fight between our individual visions of “good” and “evil” were taking place in front of our very eyes, hoping that our version of “good” was victorious in the end.
But so far, in this election, it seems to me that everybody is as bad as each other. I have to admit, even the party I have seen as “good” in an election, hasn’t exactly been on it’s best behaviour this time round. And, whatever party I support in the future, I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.