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General Election: What we've been talking about

  1. General Election
    Kat Haylock

    Kat Haylock Community Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 276 Likes: 122
    1 |

    We’re days away from hitting the polling stations for the third major vote in two years (David Cameron’s “choose stability and strong government with me or chaos with Ed Miliband” tagline is starting to feel its age) and though current polls still predict a Conservative victory, a majority win no longer seems the walk-in that it did in April.

    For the remainder of the campaigns, national security is likely to remain a focus. May started this week by pressuring tech firms to do more to combat online extremism, while Corbyn continues to lambast the government’s decision to cut over 20,000 police officers.

    With the end finally in sight, we look back at the manifesto points, tactics and election stories that got the community talking.

    The fluidity of manifesto promises

    Party manifestos have been hotly contested on the forums, with a controversial social care proposal from the Conservatives, a pledge to abolish tuition fees from Labour (wonder where we’ve heard that one before?) and an implacable anti-Brexit stance from the Liberal Democrats. If you need a refresher on the basics, check out Francois’ summary of small business policies – although it’s worth reading the manifestos in full if you can, if only for gems like UKIP’s noble concern for Muslim women’s vitamin D intake.

    For many – including the forums’ Mr D, who referred to manifestos as “meaningless” – it’s hard to take manifestos as something other than party whim and whimsy: ideas that can lure in voters and be picked and chosen from once comfortable in Downing Street.

    As Jeff FV mused, promises were made in the 2015 manifestos in the belief that no party would win a majority, and their subsequent coalition partner would provide a convenient get-out clause for blocking election promises.

    “This time around, with the Conservatives expecting to win, we’ll see far fewer tangible promises from them as they know they will have to deliver on any promises they make. The less likely a party is to be elected, the more extravagant its manifesto promises will be, as they will not have to deliver on them. But the promises may buy them a few more seats.”

    There’s also the argument that perhaps we shouldn’t expect manifestos to be more than caprice. While it can help to give a strong indication of the direction the party intends to take, Paul Norman isn’t sure a manifesto should be seen as a contract.

    “I don't want my government being bound by a campaign document,” he says, “when 3 years down the road something has totally changed.”

    Does May want to win?

    Newchodge’s stark response to the Conservative manifesto inspired Time Out’s ‘Does Theresa May want to win?’ thread, which has pulled in almost 4,000 views at the time of writing. Labelling the Conservative manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history”, she accused the party of alienating pensioners and middle-earners, and doing nothing for the low paid.

    Has Theresa May realised that she cannot possibly achieve anything over the Brexit negotiations, Newchodge speculated, and is too frightened to be remembered as the Prime Minister who destroyed the country?

    “May would have to work very hard indeed not to win this,” Paul Norman responded, “and she knows that. So I am sure she does want to win it, and win it big. Unless she accidentally does something monumentally stupid, she knows she now has five years of relatively uncontested mandate under our rules.”

    Other members thought differently, including Scott-Copywriter. With the Conservative manifesto policies relating to pensioners, he surmised, I almost wonder if May does want to lose.

    “Means tested winter fuel payments, more expensive home care for many and the eventual removal of the triple-lock pension guarantee: this attack on pensioners, one of the Tories' most reliable voter bases, indicates a lot of arrogance on her part.”

    Some of her policies, Scott went on to say, may work out better for some people. The problem is that they’re too complicated: few people will be able to look at a policy and easily work out if they're going to be better off or not.

    “It's a very dangerous group to mess with.”

    The historic voting mentality

    Just as Scott warned that a controversial social care policy could disenchant pensioners from voting Conservative, several posts suggest that the historic voting mentality – often stretching across generations – is starting to crumble. The local mayoral elections earlier this year saw upsets for both parties, with Conservatives taking traditionally Labour Tees Valley, and Labour making gains in Oxfordshire, once David Cameron’s stomping ground.

    For Xtm_Mike, coming from the traditionally Labour – and pro-Brexit – town of Hartlepool, many of his friends and his family are breaking tradition this election and turning their backs on Labour.

    “All of my family and friends’ families are Labour voters, but not this time,” he says. “Labour's manifesto might tick all the boxes, but there is too much division in their party. When I’ve spoken to older Labour voters, many do not believe Corbyn is the right man to continue our Brexit negotiations.”

    The Byre responded to these deliberations on leadership in typically playful fashion, adding Corbyn and May to the “parade of the chronically incompetent” – a troop to which he’s also consigned Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and George Osborne.

    “The last time a competent Chancellor of the Exchequer took office in Westminster, it was probably Sir Walter Mildmay under Elizabeth the First. He died in office in 1589 and it's been downhill ever since!”

    Who gets your vote this election? Did a party’s campaign change your mind?

  2. Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 82 Likes: 16
    Great round-up, Kat. Really some cool insights from the community that made me think. I must admit I've been somewhat befuddled by what exactly the Tory game plan is. At the start of this campaign, it seemed like all they needed to do was show up. But a few own goals later (and a leader who seems very uncomfortable dealing with the public), it's all gone downhill. (I still think they'll win, of course - just not by as much as I would've predicted)

    Loved the point about not wanting the government to be bound by a campaign document. I really get where this is coming from and it's right - to an extent! While I don't want my government to be completely inflexible, I also wouldn't want them to go completely off piste. There are also some promises I see as a sine qua non i.e. NHS funding. So yes and no.

    But it's definitely a good point to make. I'm not a fan of the Paxman-esque "Oh ten years ago you said <X>" approach.
    Posted: Jun 5, 2017 By: Francois Badenhorst Member since: Aug 25, 2015