Blog, Politics, Published Work

A Biased Guide to the UK Parties & Who to Vote For

A longer, online version of the article published in OPEN Magazine.

The Conservative Party

In 2010, the NHS had it’s highest ever public approval ratings – five years on and it’s the number one election issue. Back in 2005, David Cameron declared it a disgrace that ONE single mother had taken a food parcel off the Salvation Army under a Labour government. I can’t give you an up to date figure of how many rely on food banks today, due to the number increasing by the day, but we can all agree that the Prime Minister probably regrets that claim 10 years ago. The Chancellor’s budget in March claimed we’re better off than ever, yet almost half of those in poverty live in working households. So you’ve really got to admire the Prime Minister – it takes some confidence to declare you’re still the right man for the job after 5 years of your leadership has plunged millions into poverty.

David Cameron - a man in touch with the working classes.
David Cameron – a man in touch with the working classes.

What have the Tories got up their sleeve then? What are they promising us in exchange for our vote? Let’s have a look. I’ve waded through their manifesto and cut out the waffle.

Remember when Cameron and Co decided that paying 3 grand a year simply wasn’t enough to go to University & watch poorly designed PowerPoint presentations? Well they stand by their decision to treble tuition fees, pricing working class kids out of further education, but they will ensure that you won’t have to pay back any of that humongous student debt until you’re earning at least £21,000.

According to statistics, half of those living on the streets became homeless before the age of 21. So what has the Conservative’s decided is the best solution to help stop this cycle? To axe benefit for those aged 18 – 21 years old. The Prime Minister has stated that welfare should no longer be a ‘lifestyle choice’ but hasn’t really addressed the issue of just where do you go if you’re under 21 and don’t have the happy family home he assumes everyone has? Not all are blessed with a mummy and daddy there to loan them a deposit to get on the property ladder, or even help them with their rent in a grotty bed sit. Rather than taking away free TV licences and bus travel from richer pensioners, yet again working class young people will be the ones to suffer at the hands of a Tory government.

They’re a proven failure but a Conservative government promise to open at least 500 more free schools.

The ban of Fox Hunting will be repelled. Because of course, reinstating a cruel ‘sport’ to make posh people happy should be at the top of any to do list when tackling the issues facing this country.

Tax will only begin once you earn at least £12,400. However, 37.5 hours a week at National Minimum Wage (something David Cameron once voted against) currently brings you in £12,675 a year so this doesn’t mean much to anyone working full-time.

Back in the 80’s, Thatcher seemed to think selling off all the social housing on the cheap was a good idea. She believed that a nation of home owners was key to a successful country. 35 years on and a third of ex council homes are now owned by rich landlords and we’re in the midst of a severe housing crisis. However, this isn’t stopping Thatcherite David Cameron pledging an unabashed extension of the right to buy scheme for 1.3m families in housing association properties. What about the 9m renting in the private sector? Nothing for them. Tough luck.

“We will rebalance our economy and build a Northern Powerhouse” Does anyone actually know what this Northern Powerhouse is that Cameron keeps banging on about? It sounds like how an Apprentice candidate from Blackburn would describe themselves. Whatever it is, the Conservatives are doing their best to try and convince us that they actually care about anywhere North of Birmingham; with promises of better representation across the country – including a Mayor of Manchester.

 The Labour Party

Whereas The Conservative manifesto basically acts at an 84 page ‘F**k you’ to anyone under the age of 30, Ed Miliband’s Labour actually seem interested in future generations; even if we don’t vote. You can argue that Red Ed doesn’t seem tough enough to lead the country, but your alternative is a man who is scared to debate a supposedly weak man. The Labour leader may not look attractive while scoffing a bacon butty (who does?) but let’s look at some policies and promises rather than fall for The S*n’s smear campaign.

"Oh great, The Sun still dining out on that bacon butty picture - that's not boring at all."
“Oh great, The Sun still dining out on that bacon butty picture – that’s not boring at all.”

As it stands, you’re more than welcome to start paying tax at the age of 16, but you haven’t got the right to vote on which government gets to spend your money. If Labour return to power they pledge to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age by 2016.

Iain Duncan Smith wants to rebrand brand evil, exploitive zero hour contracts. Fine – Ed Miliband will ban them. No more paying to travel to a minimum wage job to be told you’re not needed and get sent home with no pay. And the minimum wage will raise to £8 an hour by October 2019. Still not enough but much better than the Tories insulting 20p hike in this year’s budget.

Unpaid internships favour kids from middle class backgrounds. Sure, working for free for six months will probably secure you a job in your dream industry, but you better make sure your parents are rich enough to have you live at home rent free while you complete it. By banning them, Labour will even the playing field up a little bit.

“The Bedroom Tax is cruel and we will abolish it” *solidarity fist emoji*

While our parents seemed to get on the property ladder for the price of a packet of crisps, those days are well and truly over – we’re Generation Rent. How are Labour planning to tackle that housing crisis I mentioned earlier? They’re looking at building more homes, tackling exploitive private landlords and help give renters more protection and rights.

Fairer tax rules under Labour. The Tories may think you should be financially rewarded for making your friends and family sit through a wedding but Ed promises to scrap the date Marriage Tax Allowance. The insulting tax break for married couples (giving nothing for single parent households & widows etc) going will make way for the introduction of a lower 10p starting rate of tax. They will also abolish Non Dom status – an old-fashioned rule that helps multi-millionaires dodge paying their share of income tax.

David Cameron may say dated, sexist stuff like “Calm down, dear’ when a woman dares to speak, but Labour seem to have cottoned on to the fact that females actually make up quite a lot of the electoral and should probably be treated like equal citizens. Labour want to give more money to refuges and Rape Crisis Centre, create better access for women to get legal aid in cases of domestic violence and ‘appoint a commissioner to set minimum standards to tackle domestic and sexual violence.’

Liberal Democrats

Bless Nick Clegg, I don’t know why he’s bothered the past few months. Who’s actually going to vote for him? Just in case anyone is still a Lib Dem, he and his party have also wrote a manifesto.

Oh Nick, mate....
Oh Nick, mate….

Just like Labour, they want to lower the voting age to 16.

They want to establish a review of higher education and ‘ensure the UK is an attractive destination for overseas students.’ Brave move even mentioning universities to be honest, lads – I’d have just steered cleared of the topic after the whole ‘trebling fees rather than abolishing them’ thing. Brave.

Lib Dems want to focus on mental health and wellbeing and have an ‘interim target of getting 25% of people suffering into treatment.” While that may not seem a huge target, help and services for those with mental health issues in this country are woeful so this is admirable pledge.

They want to encourage businesses to ensure at least one board member is filled by a BAME candidate and support ‘name blank recruitment’ – a technique that stops middle class white boys being favoured over someone with a name that Katie Hopkins would mock.

UKIP

I don’t really know why I bothered to read the UKIP manifesto – Nigel Farage and his party want to leave the EU and take back control of our borders, and that’s about it really. They’re really into the idea of an Australian-style points system for skilled workers; which makes a lot of sense as Nigel Farage looks exactly like the kind of bloke who says things like “Them Ozzies have the right idea – they don’t just let any bugger in.”

Self proclaimed ordinary man of the people Nigel Farage - at a fox hunt....
Self proclaimed ordinary man of the people Nigel Farage – at a fox hunt….

Some of their proposals are great; like ending ATOS assessments and increasing Carers’ Allowance, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Their manifesto is jam-packed with all the reasons why immigrants and the EU are to blame for everything wrong in Britain, and then random promises; like making it a criminal offence to cold call someone in respect of pension arrangements.

It goes without saying; they want to make St George’s Day a national holiday (it honestly reads like a parody manifesto at times), and pledge to end the use of multi-lingual formatting on official documents. Have you ever got a form and been really mad if it was also available in an alternative language or braille etc? No, of course you haven’t as no right thinking person gets pissed off by this.

 The Green Party

 No longer passed off as a ‘hippy’ party, The Green Party has emerged as a serious rival to Labour for the left-wing vote. They’re also the only party that put any effort into the design of their manifesto; a simple layout, easy to read, and there’s even a mini version if you’re too lazy to tackle the full one. However, they are getting marked down for having titles featuring hashtags – #notcoolguys

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

It can be easy to get excited flicking through, reading about the absolute liberal utopia the Greens would create if they had the chance to implement any of their promise, but I’m going to be a bitch and pick holes. They don’t really have the right idea about how to tackle the housing crisis, and with aims like ‘ensure through planning that everyone lives within five minutes’ walk of a green open space’ some of their pledges can seem a bit whimsical considering the issues at hand. Then again, they are The Green Party so it would be a bit odd if they didn’t have these kind of goals.

 I’ve clearly not been unbiased in this piece but then again, neither have any of the right-wing publications this week – VOTE LABOUR this Thursday.

See also: Who to Vote For (Feat. Rick Edwards)

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