Whichever Party Wins the UK General Election, what Should Their Priorities Be?
The announcement from Theresa May about the snap general election was a shock for most people in the United Kingdom and throughout the world. The question, though, for the members of whichever party wins the general election on the 8th June is how can they best support the people of the UK? We need a party that will do what is best regarding the National Health Service, homelessness and Brexit. Furthermore, there needs to be a strong focus on immigration laws so that refugees get the help they need, whilst taking into account the fact that the UK is overcrowded. The current rise of terrorism within the UK will be a prime concern for voters and all parties will need to be clear about what they will do to address this. The government needs to also concentrate on keeping unemployment down – currently at its lowest level since 1975. This is a great achievement in itself and something that the Conservatives should rightly be given credit for. However, many people find themselves thinking they are not better off financially because of wage stagnation in recent times and inflation increasing. This needs to be addressed whilst keeping up current low unemployment levels so that morale is increased within society and it can prosper in the long term.
Theresa May has undoubtedly worked very hard to trigger article 50. However, there is a long way to go and she needs the country and politicians to really get behind her if she wants to do things her own way. This is why she has announced this general election, to quieten her doubters over Brexit, including the Remainers who have questioned her plans to leave the EU. Although it did look like being a comfortable general election for the Conservatives, current opinion polls say their lead has decreased quite quickly. If Labour were to regain power, this would probably be through the form of a coalition. Whether a Conservative or Labour victory, it is important to concentrate on getting the best deal possible with the European Union, and Brexit is the dominant issue of this election by far. EU leaders have all agreed on strong ground rules for Brexit talks with the UK over the next few months. The existing twenty seven EU countries understand that they need to work with the UK; however, they have instructed the UK that there should be an agreed payment to the EU alliance before even thinking about negotiating a new trade deal. The EU has, though, understood and accepted the preliminary guidelines which came from Donald Tusk.
Whichever party does win really needs to focus on how they can help society and those in need. There are many pressing problems at the moment, such as poverty and the refugee crisis – caused through the troubles in Syria – to name just a few. For example, homelessness is on the rise. Figures taken from Gov.uk regarding statutory homelessness state that in England, local authorities accepted 14,780 households as being statutorily homeless between 1 January and 31 March 2016, up 2% on the previous quarter and 9% on the same quarter of last year. Centre Point and other charities like the Joseph Rowntree Foundation are, therefore, undertaking some fantastic projects to tackle this problem.
Healthcare and the future of the NHS is another immensely important issue that needs to be concentrated on. Labour has announced that pay rises to NHS staff will be a priority for them in the general election. One thing that should be a prime concern to all the parties is that NHS staff get paid more for the fantastic dedication and hard work seen at all levels. Of course, whichever party wins should focus on maintaining and improving the NHS. Labour has said that they will concentrate on staff shortages which have been affecting the care and attention that patients get. However, the Conservatives have suggested that Labour’s approach to economic policies would put the health service under further pressure. If Labour wins on the 8th June, they promise a pay increase for NHS staff and to put into practice a compulsory law to ensure that there is a set number of staff for each patient needing care and attention. Also, Labour has stated that they will concentrate on funding medical training that will be targeted towards health professionals and their progress. Over the last six years, NHS staff have only received a maximum 1% pay rise – although certain staff have received higher pay rises to show their development within their positions. This figure of 1% means that in real terms their living standards have dropped due to inflation rises – the Retail Price Index (RPI) currently stands at 3.2%.
It’s probably safe to assume that the timing of this election has been prompted by the – up until recently – strong Conservative Party lead in the polls. When announcing the election at a press conference outside Downing Street, Theresa May said, ‘Our opponents believe, because the government’s majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course.’ So it appears, at least in part, to be a move to try to increase the Conservative majority in the House of Commons. Her speech did not address any of the problems listed in this article and others that ordinary British people face on a daily basis. Mrs May went on to say that the election is being called now because ‘the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.’ It sounds like the changes that a Conservative government intend to make would not be so popular with voters further down the Brexit path. So far, there seems to be very little reliable information about what changes we can expect as a result of leaving the EU. Towards the end of the speech there is an invitation to opposition parties to show that they ‘do not treat politics as a game’.
What with the last general election being held just two years ago, the EU referendum, party leadership contests a year ago and the Scottish referendum in 2014, it is difficult for UK politics to maintain its focus. Let’s hope that whichever party wins on June the 8th, the government will receive the backing of members of Parliament and will indeed have the time to actually improve society and help those in need in an effective way whilst the Brexit negotiations take centre stage.
Global Seven News
Lee Cross & Louise Jones