Written by Luna Webster
Five years ago, the first ever party leaders TV debates were staged. The opinion polls showed the three main Westminster parties with generally equal popularity and the media was buzzing with talk of “coalitions” and “hung parliaments”. Doesn’t that all sound so much simpler now?
2014/15 has been a time of growth. The growth of UKIP and the far right. The growth of the Greens. The growth of political interest in Scotland following the referendum and in turn, the growth of the SNP. This growth has made this year’s general election completely impossible to predict and as today marks 100 days until the vote, things are only going to get more complicated.
Parties are already doing their absolute best to appeal to the masses and more noticeably, put each other down. This past week alone has seen Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt call the Green party’s education policy “total madness”, Ed Balls speak of the “real risk” of health charging under the Tories, and UKIP and Labour row over each other’s views on women. Though despite all the playground gossip tactics, the parties do have messages to convey, apparently.
Labour’s general election campaign battle is being fought on NHS grounds. They promise that real investment will be put into the Health Service under the leadership of Ed Milliband, promising 20,000 new nurses and 8000 new GPs.
The Conservatives’ focus is their “long-term economic plan”. They claim that under a second term of David Cameron, benefits will be capped, and 30 million people will see their income tax cut.
UKIP posted a list of 100 reasons to vote for them on their website today and it’s unlikely that anyone has actually read all of them, least of all their party leader who at the best of times seems unsure of their policies on, well, anything frankly. Anyway for the sake of being “unbiased”, they propose to inject £3 billion into the NHS, to start an “Australian-style, points based immigration system”, and to promote “a British identity, as opposed to failed multiculturalism”, whatever that even means.
The Green Party would like to introduce a minimum wage that genuinely reflects the living wage. Their chosen minimum wage is £10. They would also like to see a 10% cut to public transport fares.
The Liberal Democrats are focused on stamping out the stigma surrounding mental health in the UK. They’d also like to raise NHS funding by £8 billion in the next five years.
For Scottish voters, the SNP are promising to deliver more jobs in Scotland, a greener economy, and lower youth unemployment.
Big changes are going to be seen to the political landscape across the UK this year, with many smaller parties gaining popularity and developing the power to take votes away from the big, mainstream parties. We are truly on our journey to the general election…next stop? The TV debates…