GE19: Morning Briefing on Polling Day

Britain heads to the polls today. Here’s our Election ABC – Austerity, Brexit, and Climate Change – the ultimate rundown on three key issues in today’s general election.

Polls close at 22:00 tonight.


John McDonnell speaks at a protest against a new Boris Johnson government, July 2019.

Austerity

On Monday, Labour‘s John McDonnell vowed to “end austerity” in the first 100 days of a Labour majority government. He pledged at the same time to create nationalised water and energy firms, and to establish a National Investment Bank with £250bn to lend to small businesses. The party manifesto also focuses on increased funding for education, healthcare, and policing. This is funding which Labour says has been “slashed” by Conservative leaders since 2010.

The Tories say that these spending plans are “reckless”. They instead propose a much smaller increase in government spending. Sky News reported that for every additional £1 in spending increases proposed by the Tories, Labour promises an extra £28.

But despite criticism from Conservative voices, Labour’s major spending plans have received backing from 163 economists and academics in a letter published in the Financial Times. The letter said: “It seems clear to us that the Labour party has not only understood the deep problems we face, but has devised serious proposals for dealing with them. We believe it deserves to form the next government.”

Its signatories in London include the emeritus professors of economics at UCL and LSE, Victoria Chick and Meghnad Desai.

The Liberal Democrat and Green parties also support spending increases. The Liberal Democrats’ spending plans fall midway between those put forward by Labour and the Conservatives, with a flagship £13bn boost for childcare provision. The Green party focuses on NHS funding, proposing an extra £6bn for healthcare each year until 2030.


Students at a People’s Vote march, October 2018.

Brexit

Let’s start with the simplest policy: the Liberal Democrats want to “STOP BREXIT”. That’s the title of their 2019 manifesto.

“The election of a Liberal Democrat majority government on a clear stop Brexit platform,” they say, “will provide a democratic mandate to stop this mess, revoke Article 50, and stay in the European Union.”

And without a majority government? The Liberal Democrats want to campaign for a “people’s vote” with the option to stay in the EU. The Liberal Democrats would once again campaign to remain.

Green party politicians also want a second referendum on a Brexit deal, with an option to remain in the EU. They plan to support freedom of movement between the UK and the EU in any event, and to guarantee the full rights of EU citizens and their families living in the UK.

And the Labour party says that it would negotiate a new Brexit deal with the EU if they form a majority government. Their “sensible deal” would then be put before the public within six months, and there would be an option to remain in the EU on the ballot paper. The party rules out a no-deal Brexit.

“Whether people voted Leave or Remain in 2016, people and businesses are crying out for politicians in Westminster to finally focus on the wider challenges we face,” Labour’s manifesto says.

The Tories, who have presided over Brexit since the 2016 vote, blame Parliament “gridlock” for two Brexit delays in 2019. They are running on the slogan “Get Brexit Done“. A Conservative majority government will aim to leave the EU at the end of January with Boris Johnson’s deal.


Vote for the Environment,” November 2019.

Climate Change

If this isn’t the Brexit Election, then this is the Climate Election.

Climate change is one of the biggest issues for students worldwide. Only this week, Greta Thunberg became TIME magazine’s person of the year. Thunberg has encouraged students across the world, including those in London, to take time out of their classes to protest against climate change.

The Labour and Green manifestos both propose a “Green New Deal” in Britain. Both parties hope to meet key international emissions targets by 2030.

Labour’s flagship policy on the climate is the creation of one million jobs in the UK to “transform” British industry, energy, transport, agriculture, and nature. Labour says, “Britain is decades off course on vital emissions targets.”

The Green Party proposes a £100bn-per-year investment into the Green New Deal to “provide new opportunities for everyone to work and live more sustainably and more securely.”

The Liberal Democrats hope to meet key emissions targets by 2045. By 2030, they would “decarbonise” 80% of Britain’s energy sector. They also say: “We will provide support for innovation to cut energy and fossil fuel use in industrial processes. We will maximise recovery, reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing, cutting resource use, waste and pollution.”

And the Tories want to become “Stewards of our environment”. They have a “Net Zero target”. The Tories don’t put a timeframe on their target, but instead propose an “Office for Environmental Protection” which will set its own emissions rules. The Tories’ lacklustre approach to the climate crisis has been widely criticised by scientists and climate advisors during the election campaign, which heightened after Boris Johnson failed to show up to a Channel 4 leaders’ debate on climate change.


Other key issues for students in this election include: Higher Education, pensions, the NHS, and foreign policy.

Photo credits: Author.


Will is London Student's Features Editor. He has recently completed a BA History at SOAS, and you might find him hiding in a library around Bloomsbury.

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