Election 2017 – Good Luck… and Don’t F**k It Up
This is the biggest election of my generation. We’ve heard this a lot and it’s mostly been attached to the Brexit negotiations coming up but that isn’t the only reason. Truth is, the country has never been more divided than ever.
In the last election, much the chagrin of my friends, I voted Conservative. I had read every manifesto and watched every interview and debate. Far from feeling “Con-Demed” by the coalition, I was impressed with the Conservatives’ move to the middle. I am a young professional, not earning a massive amount and still renting without hope of getting on the property latter any time soon. It felt like Ed Miliband’s focus was only on those in poverty. It seems selfish, written down but that’s how I voted; on what party I felt would help me but also help the country. I voted believing the Conservatives would represent everybody.
What ensued was austerity and deep cuts. These cuts have left open wounds for our country that continue to bleed. The Conservative plan to invest in the NHS at the rate of inflation, allowing the NHS to find its own cuts elsewhere, turned out a disaster. The mere £8 billion investment had not been and still hasn’t been enough to keep up with growing demand with the Guardian reporting in March that “the number of patients not receiving treatment within 18 weeks of referral has gone up by 100,000 since January 2016” leading to the NHS scrapping the 18 week target for 92% of all patients in England “who are waiting for a hip or knee replacement, cataract removal, hernia repair or other non-urgent operation.”
Then there’s the cruelty of Conservative welfare reform. After the May 2015 election, Iain Duncan Smith told a victorious Conservative Party Conference it was time to end the “something for nothing culture” they blamed on Labour. The result? People have died whilst on sanction and 52% of appeals by people who have been declared “fit to work” and had benefits slashed have been approved, proving the unfairness of the system. Now, sanctions were prevalent before the 2015 election and I could be fairly accused of ignorance on the matter but now my eyes are wide open. Let’s not also forget that, due to inflation and poor wage growth, the cost of living has increased leaving us shorter each month. I do not believe that being on benefits should be a way of life. I agree that a Labour Government allowed not working to pay more than working but what we have now is a system that treats all claimant as second-class citizens and, in addition, allows them to go hungry. The Trussell Trust’s recent end of year report was damning “Between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017, The Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 1,109,309 in 2015-16. Of this number, 436,938 went to children.”
If the NHS and the Welfare State don’t bother you, just look at the manifestos when it comes to equal/LGBT rights. Labour has an entire section dedicated to LGBT equality. The Conservative Manifesto doesn’t mention it once yet Theresa May felt it important to acknowledge her support of Fox Hunting. Whilst LGBT rights and influence has improved, no thanks to the Prime Minister’s poor voting record, we still have a long, long way to go. The Home Office reported in January of this year that there are 20 reported homophobic hate crimes a day in England and Wales. That’s only the ones that are reported. Yet the Conservatives feel no need to pledge support?
I could go on and on about failings of our current Government and I am sure you’re saying “but what about Labour?!” The UK political system is sometimes frustrating. We are, realistically, a 2-party nation. I do not, in any way, agree with everything Corbyn believes. His party’s policies, in places, are much too liberal. His lack of charisma frustrating. And trust me, anyone like Diane Abbott (or, indeed, Diane herself if she returns from her period of ill health) as Home Secretary will be devastating to our international reputation. But I believe a Conservative Government will be more damaging. We cannot go on as we are with a Government whose focus is on the people who need them the least, at the expense of those who need them the most.
Every election I have ever voted in, who/whatever I’ve voted for has won. I back winners because I back what I believe the country I dearly love needs. This Thursday, I back Labour.
If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. In this trying times, it is important to show the strength of our democracy. But there is no doubt that this election could be transformative no matter which Party you support. So please get out there, come rain or shine, and vote.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.