You’ve seen it all before, plastered all over the media but here is a breakdown of everything you need to know about the upcoming elections
By Peter Knight
On the 12th December 2019 the UK will head to the polls and cast their votes in the second General Election since 2015.
Ever since the result of the 2017 general election – which saw the incumbent Prime Minister, Theresa May, lose 13 seats in parliament and her majority – the prospect of a follow-up Election seemed highly plausible. And so here we are in 2019, returning to the polling station after only two and a half years.
Brexit or Brexsh*t?
While arguably the main catalyst of this election is the same that fuelled the last – Brexit – the 2019 election campaign has seen other issues brought to prominence in the debates. The issue of financial inequality, the NHS and other public services, and widening class divides across the UK have all informed the manifestos of this election campaign. While questions over the status and future of the NHS have been prominent, these questions could be regarded as symptomatic of the larger Brexit debate.
However, the issue of climate change has risen to a far greater position in the discussion than it has before, with many party leaders attending a televised Climate Debate on Channel 4 in late November. With the issue gaining more attention since 2017 via the protests organised by Extinction Rebellion and other concerned groups throughout 2019, it may be regarded now as being on equal footing, among some demographics of voters, with the Brexit question. Yet, Brexit does still seem to be taking precedence in the minds of many prospective voters.
We are now faced with a ballot paper that does not simply present the political parties of the UK, but a ballot paper that might also act in a similar capacity as the 2016 Referendum, with each of the parties aligning themselves to a stance on Brexit. So, what are their positions?
Choose your fighter
The Conservative Party propose that the UK leave the EU with the deal negotiated by Boris Johnson, who revised Theresa May’s previous deal.
The Labour Party has pledged to re-negotiate Boris Johnson’s proposed deal and will then put the revised deal alongside the option to remain in the EU in a second Brexit referendum; Labour will have this done within six months of the election.
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to cancel Brexit entirely if they win in the forthcoming election, as endorsed by party members at their September conference. Should they fail to win the election, they would support a second referendum.
The Green Party has not pledged in any official capacity to support one side or another, however, Caroline Lucas, the party’s only current MP, is a strong campaigner for a second referendum, and is staunchly pro-remain.
The Brexit Party, as their name suggests, are vehemently pro-Brexit, and are proposing what they have termed a ‘clean-break Brexit’, a withdrawal from the EU with no deals, attempting to avoid the £39bn settlement levied on the UK by the EU, which Boris Johnson’s deal would involve paying. Whether that is possible hasn’t been explored.
Loud and Proud
The voter turnout in 2017 was 69% overall for the UK, and while many of the issues remain the same in the 2019 campaign, the remarkable number of under-25s registering to vote in 2019 would suggest that the younger generations have avoided the voter fatigue that was to be expected for the third general election in five years. Over a million under-25s registered to vote before the deadline in November, 40% higher than the number of young people registering in the lead up to 2017. The Electoral Reform Society has said that the ‘surge’ in application amongst young people is ‘highly encouraging’.
If you wish to research political parties, politicians, their policies and their voting records to inform your decision on the 12th of December, please be sure to verify your sources and make sure that what you are reading is legitimate and truthful; particularly on social media.
Whatever party you vote for on the 12th of December and whatever issues are most important to inform your decision, there can be no doubt that if young people, students in particular, turn up and vote and actively seek to have their views represented in parliament then we could see a significant moment in UK politics that would be unprecedented, as students have for a long time been seen to be neglected by the political establishment.