In just 38 days Britain will take to the polls again as David Cameron signaled the dissolution of parliament today. He saw this as an opportunity to attack Ed Miliband by saying that Labour’s economic plans would be ‘chaos’. He appealed to voters to stick with the Conservatives because “Britain is back on it’s feet.”
Perhaps Britain is back on it’s feet for people who typically vote for the Conservative Party but the people on zero hour contracts, the people who are on the dole and the people who are disabled would probably tell you otherwise. For the last five years, we have watched in horror as headline after headline emerges, day after day, about tax avoidance, people at death’s door being found fit for work,the rising number of people using food banks, the rising number of people employed on zero hour contracts, cuts to welfare, reliance on pay-day lending, the NHS being sold off to multi-million pound companies and increasing attacks on trade unions. For the average working class person, it hasn’t exactly been an easy ride. For the average middle class, Mail reader with a substantial pension and savings, then, it probably has been an easy ride.
The task ahead of us, as voters, is not an easy one. We have had a coalition government for the last five years under the Tories and the Lib Dems. We are about to see a collapse in the liberal democrat vote and, if polls turn out to be accurate, a surge in the UKIP vote and in Scotland, the SNP. It is set to be another hung parliament which could potentially result in an even more fragmented parliament than 2010. If there is another hung parliament, it will send a clearer message to parties who resisted electoral reform- that we need a change in the voting system in Britain. What we may see after this election is a more European style of politics than what we have been used to.
There is no clear front runner in the election. Opinion polls frequently show the Conservatives and Labour at neck and neck with each other. Over the next six weeks, this blog will be arguing for a Labour government and for readers to vote Labour. It appears that politics today is based on which party is the least terrible. For the general public, it may be too soon for them to trust Labour again. It has only been five years since they left office. What Labour have pledged is more optimistic and positive for Britain than anything the Conservatives have pledged. The Conservatives are being evasive and avoiding the answer of the question: where are the next £12 billion of cuts coming from. But they have had a decent record in the economy and in employment and the voters may want minimal upheaval- things are starting to get a bit better- but not for everyone.
Ed Miliband may be a North London geek, but he is the most passionate leader of any of the three main parties. He uses socialistish language of redistributing wealth and making work fairer. Labour could go further- they could always go further- but as a major player in this election, they have to appeal to as many people as possible. It has been said in Scotland, that the SNP gaining traction could be used to pull Labour to the left, but it is looking more and more apparent that it is actually the Labour party pulling the SNP more and more to the left. The Labour party have pledged to reintroduce the 50p tax rate, which the SNP were quiet on, but at their conference at the weekend, they finally announced they would be supporting it. They also voted to implement gender balancing mechanisms to internal party selections- almost twenty years behind the SNP. Labour is a hard sell in Scotland these days, but it becomes easier when you compare their general election pledges- of which the SNP don’t appear to have as of yet.
The choice isn’t easy- especially in Scotland- but there can not be one party who represents everyone. The SNP claims to represent “Scotland’s voice” but as we all know, there are 5 million voices in Scotland, not just one. This is the problem with nationalism. The Scottish Labour Party are pandering to this message, but we must urge it to support politics based on class interest. The SNP appears to be more interested in how much traction it can achieve, but the Labour Party wants to get down to business- increasing wages and ensuring that zero hour contracts are eradicated. Higher wages, fairer working conditions, more progressive taxation, more jobs, abolition and replacement of the house of lords, reversing the bedroom tax and putting a stop to further NHS privatisation is something that we can get behind, so think about it and remember, the Labour Party actually has a chance of having a government. The SNP only field candidates in Scotland- they can only have a maximum of 59 MPs which will make it more difficult to implement their policies across Britain. With both Labour and the Tories distancing themselves from working with the SNP, it will remain to be seen how they will work on a “demand and confidence” basis.