By Ben Smyth
As many of you will be aware, be it from news outlets or Facebook memes, PM Theresa May has announced there will be a snap election held on June 8th. What you might not be aware of are the potential implications of this election, and where we could all be headed depending on its outcome.
Whatever way the election goes, there are likely going to be big changes in many aspects of our daily life and in the long term future of the country and its people, so let’s take some time to look over what these changes might be and how they will affect us so that when the time comes we all have a better idea of who, and more importantly what we are voting for.
It makes sense to start with the party who have decided the election must take place, so let’s have a look at what a victory for the Conservatives could look like. The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, initially as part of a coalition government with the liberal democrats, and have been in complete control since their majority win in 2015. In those 7 years, they have put forward many considerable changes to the way this country works, and many people have not been satisfied with them, especially in the fields of austerity and the funding of public services, particularly the NHS.
With fewer taxpayers money being put into such services and instead of being used to help equalise the national debt acquired after the global financial crisis of 2008, many people have voiced concerns about the Conservatives being more concerned with the economic stability of the UK rather than the wellbeing and quality of life of its citizens.
Other issues raised by the public have been the Conservatives stance towards immigration, especially the acceptance of middle eastern refugees escaping persecution and murder from their corrupt governments, and most recently of all, the debacle of Brexit. So why has Theresa May chosen to call a snap election in six weeks time, especially after explicitly stating in several TV interviews that she would not do this?
Many people are saying that this is a power grab by the conservatives, trying to secure their political leadership before the ramifications of Brexit become a reality. In her most recent public appearance, May declared that Brexit is happening, and “there can be no turning back”. This has since been refuted by Antonio Tajani, leader of the European Parliament, who has stated that if there were to be another referendum and the public voted to remain in the EU, this would be totally possible and things would continue as if nothing had happened. This then may be an indicator of the Conservatives motivation for the snap election, as it would allow them to secure their political leadership for the next 5 years and carry through their plans for a hard Brexit without allowing an opportunity for the public to reconsider if Brexit is the best thing for us.
A victory for the conservatives in this election would also allow them to continue their plans of cuts to public funding, including disability benefits, public housing, and public education. A point of contention that many members of the public have with the current Conservative government is their apparent unwillingness to find different areas from which to take the money they need to repay the debt, by for instance introducing higher tax rates on the very wealthy, or taking a percentage of the country’s military budget, instead opting to take money from the sections of society who need it the most, notably their highly controversial “dementia tax” which would see elderly people suffering from severe illnesses having to pay for their own health and social care through selling their home to the government. In short, a Conservative win in the upcoming snap election will likely lead towards a hard Brexit, and further cuts to public funding that will make life more and more difficult for the average citizen of the UK, and especially so for those already at a disadvantage, such as people with severe disabilities, medical conditions, or financial issues.
So then, if not the Conservatives, who? This is where the issue of the snap election becomes a bit more tricky because while you may feel very strongly that the Conservatives are not the party for you, because of the current state of the other parties and the very short notice at which this election has been called, the alternatives are far from perfect as well. Let’s take a look at the Conservatives’ historic rival, the Labour party.
After the highly questionable nature of Tony Blair’s leadership, culminating in now provenly unnecessary war in Iraq, leading to the deaths of many many UK servicemen and women, as well as countless Iraqi civilians, followed by the less disastrous but notably forgettable leadership of Gordon Brown, the Labour party has fallen out of favour in recent years, helping contribute to the Conservatives’ rise to power. Since then, the party has been the centre of a lot of media attention on the account of Jeremy Corbyn, the successor of Ed Miliband as leader of the Labour party after his resignation following the 2015 general election.
Corbyn has been the centre of much controversy on account of his very socialist views, leaning farther to the left than previous Labour leaders. This has, on one hand, won the hearts of many young voters, especially students like ourselves as he has pledged to immediately scrap university tuition fees for new students and write off the outstanding debt or current students or graduates. Many young people in the UK see him as the leader the country needs, but this has also made him very unattractive to the majority of older and more centralist voters, who see him as a dangerous figure who would sacrifice the economic power of the UK. This division exists not only within the voting public but also within the Labour party itself, which has essentially collapsed in on itself since Corbyn took the lead.
As a result of this, many people now see Labour as an unelectable party, as they have shown themselves to be divided, unguided, and unable to see the bigger picture of the political climate through their own infighting and creative differences. While many of the policies Corbyn has vowed to enact seem like they would benefit many people, such as increased funding to the NHS, nationalisation of the railways, and increasing minimum wage, and the deconstruction of the Trident nuclear programme, it is not unreasonable that many people do not want to be led by a party who appears to not even be able to lead themselves.
So with the two main UK political giants, particularly the conservatives, showing a host of reasons to not vote for them, to whom do we turn? In an election such as this, rather than asking yourself who you want to win, perhaps ask yourself who you want to lose.
This is the decision we all have to make for ourselves, and this article has only shown you a small section of all the aspects we must consider. We are currently living through a period of great political uncertainty, both globally and locally, and all we can do is make sure that we don’t close ourselves off and become uninterested, because if we do that then we will have no grounds to complain if things do not go the way we want.
This snap election will determine the future of this country for at least five years, and if you plan to live here through those five years, why would you not take this opportunity to do what you can to make sure they are the best five years for you? We the 18-24-year-olds of this country are the smallest voting demographic yet we are the ones who will be most affected by the results, so we cannot let this opportunity evade us.
The ability to vote is a gift not given to all people, and we must make sure to use this gift to at least try to ensure a future that is worth staying for, so when you wake up on the 8th of June, don’t let your say on your future slip through your fingers, get down to the polling station, make your voice heard, and once you have enacted your fundamental right to contribute to your country’s leadership, go have a pint and wait for this to all blow over.
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