Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad
In just a couple of months time, (7th May 2015) the UK will be going to the polls to vote in what could be the most uncertain election in decades. As it currently stands, Labour is set to be the biggest party but almost certainly won’t be able to win a majority of seats. Alongside this, the Liberal Democrat vote is set to collapse, meaning any party, big or small, could potentially be involved in the next government, and that means some of the smaller parties across the country are starting to receive a lot of attention.
Given how unpredictable this election is going to turn out, it really does mean that your vote counts a lot more this time around than it perhaps did a few years ago, meaning every party will be doing their bit to win your vote. But they will only pursue the votes of people who actually decide to register and people under the age of 25 (the age bracket we are also part of) are notorious for either not registering to vote or not turning up on election day. Why do politicians keep on banging on about things like pensions? Because pensions matter to people who are retired and 96% of all retirees are registered to vote (compared to only about 50% of young people), meaning parties can win a lot of support from the grey vote. If we really want policies that truly matter and can make a difference to young people of today, we need to register to vote and cast our ballot on election day. If you want more info on this, it’s worth checking this page out where you have the option of registering to vote there and then online (it literally only takes a couple of minutes so no excuses!)
Once you’ve registered to vote, you then have the question of who to actually cast your vote for. Ideally, the party we should vote for should be the party that broadly shares the same ideas as we do, but unfortunately we don’t really have time to read through all of the parties’ manifestos whilst dissecting fact from spin. Thankfully there are a good few websites that help with this sort of thing and one of the best and most accurate ones is this one which thankfully produced results that were pretty accurate for us as well as giving examples of other parties’ policies.
And now, we are gonna give you a quick lowdown of the major parties that you will have a chance to vote for in these elections.
The right-of-centre Conservatives are the main party in the current government, but that could all potentially change in a couple of months’ time. In fairness to the Conservatives, they’ve done well to get the UK back on track in light of the global economic crisis of the last 7 years or so. There isn’t anything to show for it yet but conditions in Britain are beginning to properly improve. With all this said however, they’ve done little to show that we are truly “all in it together”, as the economic gap between the richest and the poorest has widened – whilst Tory policies did indeed hit the richest hardest, it hit the absolute poorest the next hardest, and that has led to a massive rise in the use of food banks and the dreaded “Bedroom Tax” has hit many of the needy in an unnecessary and crippling way.
The Liberal Democrats sit in the center and are traditionally seen as the party midway between Labour and the Conservatives, as well as having a strong student following. However, the Lib Dems are on course to face a massive vote collapse due to supporting a tripling of tuition fees when they campaigned just months earlier to oppose tuition fee rises. Support for the Lib Dems has fallen so much that even Nick Clegg, the leader of the Lib Dems himself, may be defeated in his own constituency of Sheffield Hallam. Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrats told the biggest ever lie in modern British history and his party is set to collapse because of a decision they made just months after being elected to co-govern with the Tories. Moreover, for all the bad things that the Tories may have done, it’s needed the support of the Lib Dems for these decisions to be passed in Parliament and we have seen virtually nothing from the side of the Lib Dems to prove they stopped a bad decision being made and influenced a policy meaningfully. And perhaps next time, they shouldn’t use a campaign video like this
There isn’t really much to say about this party other than we don’t really know what they stand for nowadays. All I’m hearing is how they wouldn’t do this and they wouldn’t do that because that is what the Tories do. The party is still firmly stuck in opposition mode and they can only seem to identify by what they are not. Maybe it’s a bit of an unfair description of Labour and they do have policies, but they are not being boastful of them enough and their promise to reduce tuition fees would be welcome but seems very opportunistic. But all in all, the party speaks the language more of opposition rather than that of a party ready to govern.
SNP (Scottish National Party)
The SNP are predicted to do well in this election and are on course to become the biggest party in Scotland, Labour’s traditional heartlands. So well in fact, that it could be because of the SNP that Labour may not get a majority in May. A big problem though is that the reason this party exists at all is to break up the United Kingdom, so it would be very strange if they were involved in a potential governing coalition with Labour leading the country they are trying to break up. The SNP would probably behave in a way that isn’t the interests of 55% of Scots who voted against independence and certainly not in the interests of anyone living outside of Scotland, so it would be problematic for the UK if the SNP were involved in governing the country. In short, having the SNP involved in government at the UK level will cause far more problems than it will solve.
UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party)
The party was originally a single-issue Tory splinter party that campaigns for Britain’s exit from the European Union, but they have now put together a set of policies that places them fairly firmly on the right. However, this party has frequently been dogged by accusations of racism and bigotry with a number of party members saying some pretty unpleasant things, and they are officially the laziest party in Europe – many in Britain complain that the EU doesn’t work for nor properly represent Britain, so we vote for UKIP to make a point, but of the 76 parties represented in the European Parliament, UKIP members have the worst voting record of all. By voting UKIP, we actually lose influence in Europe and in turn it allows UKIP to continue this narrative of the EU not properly working for Britain.
Of course there are arguments for and against the EU, but for all the problems UKIP bring up about the EU, they’re not actually doing anything about it. Nigel Farage himself ranks 759th out of 764 MEPs in terms of his voting record by only taking part in 43% of votes and two other UKIP members are among the bottom 6 MEPs on their voting record, including former member Godfrey Bloom who came in rock bottom at 23%. And yet, whilst they are prepared to abstain from their responsibilities in the EU, they are still more than happy to accept a full six-figure yearly salary for their non-work. They can change potentially damaging decisions but they choose not to and any influence the UK may have on the EU is lost if we vote UKIP.
The Green Party
Where on earth do we start with the Greens…? The problem with the Greens is that they don’t sound like they know what they are talking about. Their leader, Nathalie Bennett, has been caught out big time on two highly publicised interviews by seemingly making up numbers and promising us everything. They propose a “citizen’s income” of giving every British national £72 per week whether they need it or not, but to finance it, they would scrap all of the existing benefits and impose a wealth tax to make up the rest. As a result, anyone earning more than £3500 a year would have to pay tax instead of the current £10,000 and the richest will be expected to make up a massive amount of money so that everyone gets their £72 per week, leaving the poorest and the richest among us worse off. And once the country has been financially wrecked, the Greens will abolish the army, scrap Trident, convert our military bases to making windmills and allow people to freely join groups like Al-Qaeda and the IRA – and this is incredibly irresponsible and dangerous at a time when groups like the Islamic State are murdering any “infidel” they can get their hands on and when we are seeing a more assertive Russia to the east. They’re perhaps the most dangerous party of them all, but everyone seems to think that they are the “nice party”…
As for who we vote for, it remains to be seen! In this election, Jasper will be voting in the 3-way marginal constituency of Brighton Pavilion, where the Greens won their first ever seat back at the last election in 2010, whilst Olesya is voting in the traditionally left-leaning constituency of Colne Valley, which switched to Conservative only for the second time at the last election. Only time will tell how this election goes, but do take part and get involved!