Thursday, 8 June 2017

Election Day

by Thomas Locke

Today, Britain goes to the polls, to decide who voters feel is fit to lead the country and guide us through the upcoming Brexit negotiations. After weeks of campaigning, debating, questioning, name calling and touring the country in brightly coloured “battle buses”, the day has arrived to cast your vote. 

While the news is choked with stories of polls claiming to know who people are backing, only you know who is getting your support. Whether it's Theresa May you're keen on with her “Strong and Stable” approach or whether you have a hankering for Jeremy Corbyn or Tim Farron of the Lib Dem parish, whoever you vote for today, we will soon ascertain what implications it will have on Britain and its future. 

However, instead of glaring into the murky waters of Britain’s fate, on this poignant day, I would like to take this time to look back at the last few weeks and relive some of the most memorable moments of the 2017 Snap General Election.

 1. Theresa May calls a snap general election

Standing in front of Number 10, the Prime Minister said that: 

“Since I became prime minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election”

2. The Party Manifestos.

As Portsmouth Point is politically neutral, the manifestos have been placed in order of popularity (based on YouGov polls on the 7th May 2017):

Conservatives: key policies include replacing the triple-lock on state pensions to a “double-lock”, means testing winter fuel allowances, scrapping free school lunches for infants and cutting net migration to below 100,000. There are no figures mentioned in the Conservative manifesto and their policies have not been costed.

Labour: key policies include the scrapping university tuition fees, nationalising England’s water companies, ending zero hours contracts, hiring 10,000 new police officers and introducing a 45p and 50p tax rate for those earning £80,000 and £123,000 respectively. Labour has costed all of their policies, although it has been criticised by some, with the Conservatives referring to their financial planning as relying on a “magic money tree”.

Liberal Democrats: key policies include a second EU referendum, a 1% rise in income tax to pay for NHS and social care, a ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans by 2025, the legalisation of cannabis and the extension of free childcare to all two-year olds.

UKIP: key policies include reducing net migration to zero within five years, banning the wearing of face coverings in public areas (burqa ban), cutting VAT on household bills, implementing 20,000 more police officers and spending meeting the NATO benchmark of spending 2% of GDP on defence.

Green: key policies include implementing a four-day working week, protecting freedom of movement, a referendum on the final Brexit deal, lowering the voting age to 16, cancelling Trident replacement and introducing proportional representation.

3. The One Show

Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the BBC evening talk show The One Show.
Theresa May appeared on the show first and viewers of the programme were quick to criticise comments made by May and her husband, Philip, after they discussed the dividing up of household chores. Critics said that their perceptions of “boy and girl jobs” were “outdated” and one person called it “sexism at its finest”. Kezia Dugdale, the leader of the Scottish Labour party, tweeted: “Seconds into The One Show, the Prime Minister tells the country there are ‘boy jobs and girl jobs’ at home – I despair.”
When Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the show, he discussed his love for manhole covers and allotments as well as offering presenters, Alex Jones and Ore Oduba, a jar of his home-grown jam.

The Labour Leader took a bash at Theresa May on the show by stating that there were not ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ jobs in the Corbyn household. Viewers appeared to appreciate his appearance on the programme and he was praised as ‘human’ for his honest comments, described as a ‘warm, funny and a genuinely human’ person.

4. Diane Abbott and the recurrence of “car crash” interviews

Labour’s shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, was speaking to Nick Ferrari to announce the party’s new plans for policing and crime when at one point, she claimed that the policy of implementing 10,000 additional police officers would cost £300,000 - the equivalent of an annual salary of £30.00 per police officer. Ms Abbott then tried to clarify the cost of the policy, stating that it would cost “about £80m”. Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn confirmed later that day that the policy would cost £300m, saying that he was “not embarrassed” by the interview on LBC that was dubbed a “car crash” by users online.

Ms Abbott suffered another embarrassing television interview, this time on Sky News, whilst discussing the report by Lord Harris on improving London’s ability to respond to a terrorist attack. She told Dermot Murnaghan of Sky News that she would “revisit the report” but, when asked about which section she would revisit, the Labour MP told him: "Well I think it's just about preparedness and resilience."

On the 7th of June, the Labour party confirmed that Diane Abbott would be taking a break from campaigning as she “was not well” and shadow minister Lyn Brown is to stand in for Ms Abbott who couldn’t attend two media appearances on Tuesday 6th June.

5. Political Advertising

The 2017 General Election has seen a rise in parties using social media companies to target a demographic of people with specially designed advertisements that have been developed with the psychology of an individual taken into consideration. This has led to an array of highly personal and targeted ads popping up on people’s Facebook feeds in an attempt to influence their political views.

Whilst this new breed of advertising has proved to be effective and powerful, in my opinion the most provoking and striking advertisement by a political party was one commissioned by the Liberal Democrats (see above)). The controversial poster was launched by Vince Cable who said that the Conservatives had “adopted” UKIP’s stance on Brexit and Farage’s warm view of US president Donald Trump. He mentioned the Conservative manifesto, which had a focus on reducing net migration to the tens of thousands, and the Lib Dems’ economics spokesperson said that this is evidence of the Conservatives following Farage in wanting to “keep foreigners out”.

6. Theresa May or May Not turn up

There was a notable absence of the Conservative leader from televised debates and media interviews throughout the course of the election campaign. Mrs May declined invitations to debate the other leaders of the UK’s major political parties and an invitation to appear on BBC Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 with Emma Barnett. On numerous occasions, Amber Rudd, the Conservative’s Home Secretary has had to replace the Prime Minister.

Some have criticised Mrs May for her lack of attendance to public events saying that it contradicts her slogan of “Strong and Stable”, showing a “Weak and Wobbly” persona.

7. Terrorism and Security interrupt election campaigning.

The two recent terror attacks that occurred during the seven weeks of election campaigning made the threat of terrorism apparent. As with other issues, each party plans to tackle the threat differently, with Theresa May suggesting alterations and accommodations to be made to the Human Rights Act to help the security services combat terrorism.

It has been made clear that this vote on June 8th is not just on Brexit, not just on taxes, the NHS or social care; it is also based on terrorism and security and how the police force can protect the country. Whether it be more PCSOs patrolling our streets or an additional 10,000 police officers deployed, there are likely to be changes to the current solutions available.

Election campaigning was suspended twice after the attacks to show respect to the victims and to discuss the issues in parliament.

Katie Hopkins offered her solution to some 700,000 followers on Twitter, saying that we need a ‘final solution’ to terrorism- a term used by the Nazi’s to reference the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing. That tweet lead to her dismissal from radio station LBC, which I have previously discussed here.

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