My Attempt At Making Sense Of The Election Campaign

The election that should never have been takes place this Thursday, 8th June, and only a few days ago I finally made the decision as to which box gets my tick.

Normally, I would vote for the Liberal Democrats. However, this election I will be voting for Labour. Why? Because Jeremy Corbyn has over the course of the last 3-4 weeks proven himself to me and many others nationally that he might actually be a leader with a clear vision, something which cannot be said of any other candidate.

It took me a while to arrive at this decision, however. I’m going to attempt to run through my thoughts on a policy-by-policy basis, with some added extras too.

Why are we doing this again?

Theresa May has been many things this campaign. Strong isn’t one of them. Stable certainly isn’t. Complacent is. She thought she could just call a snap election and walk it. All the polls are gradually proving otherwise.

For context, the reason for calling the election she said she wouldn’t call was that “the country is coming together but Westminster is not”, referring to the perception that other parties want to stifle or even block Brexit. Here are the Commons voting results for the decision to trigger Article 50. Note that opposition to triggering the bill was a small minority.

In short, this is a lie. She called the election to buy herself two more years at a time where interest in voting Labour was at its lowest.

The battle over public services

For those who have not been able to keep up with the last seven years of cuts, Theresa May doesn’t like paying for things. Police numbers are down 20,000 since 2010, and firefighters down 10,000. Nurses can’t be afforded a pay rise due to the absurdity of the idea a “magic money tree” exists. For reference, here’s the Conservative logo.

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I’m all for not plunging our country into masses of debt for the next generations to deal with, but not at the expense of destroying every service that people rely on every day to get by in the here and now.

This isn’t just restricted to the NHS (which the Tories privatise more of every day), but transport, education, funding for libraries, social care, the welfare state, pensions and more have all felt the squeeze. Teaching numbers are declining as class sizes rise. The benefits system fails to serve the people who need it most and is all too easily abused by those who don’t need it at all. Southern rail continues to count its spare change as thousands wait hours for its services every day. This is unacceptable for a country that is supposedly one of the best countries for human development in the world.

Where did all the austerity savings go?

Poor public services are the result of some questionable tax changes. Rather than cut spending while maintaining revenue from taxation, corporation tax was decreased from 28% to 19%, making it one of the lowest rates in the developed world. In other words, wage rises for those on the lower rungs of the ladder are entirely conditional on big bosses not hording their tax money from themselves.

Raising it to 26% may seem counter-intuitive for small businesses, but ultimately, it’s money that is needed for the country to function healthily. Additionally, to address the fearmongering that all businesses will flee to pastures new; where, exactly? Let’s have a look at places that have lower corporation taxes rates.

corptax

The notable example is Nestle moving Blue Riband production to Poland, but really, can you see businesses moving en masse if we reduce corporation tax? Where are they going to go? Even with an increase to 26%, we have lower tax rates than France, Germany, the USA, Japan, Australia, Italy and Canada, which are some of the biggest economies in the world both for manufacturing and selling. This isn’t even factoring Brexit, whereby if they do move they will likely be charged more to sell to the UK should we not remain in the single market, so where is the incentive?

Labour also plans to increase taxes for the richest 5% of people, which seems fairer to some but it also plants a seed that a Labour government would place a cap on financial aspiration, which isn’t necessarily an atmosphere we should be looking to foster. The Lib Dems propose increasing income tax to 21%, or roughly an extra £10 for every £1000 earned, to finance the NHS, which is fairer for most, but this would need to come with moving the lower income tax band up to ensure the poorest don’t get hit.

In any case, it’s pointless talking about tax changes if they aren’t going to be collected. In fact, it should be made an immediate priority to chase up every relevant case from the Panama Papers (which has been conveniently swept under the rug), and to make sure thieves such as Google pay their share to trade here. Thanks to one George Osborne, they pay roughly 3% tax.

Execution of education

This is one that not enough people with children have shown any passion for. Stressed teachers are working in underfunded schools as children share textbooks one between four in class sizes of up to 40. This is not an environment for fostering talent and training the people of the future.

As primary and secondary school funding is cut, apprenticeships becoming hard to come by, and tuition fees at an all-time high, it’s only fair to ask… WHERE’S ALL THE MONEY? It certainly isn’t being used to pay off our national debt.

It’s being spent on buildings. Lots and lots of pointless buildings.

This may be controversial, but not everyone needs to go to university, and not everyone should. Is it a coincidence that the construction industry is struggling for labourers yet university admissions are rising? We should not be encouraging all the country’s youth to go to university when there is a huge skills shortage in trade. In fact, it is speculated that governments encourage university attendance to keep young people off the benefits system. The lack of polytechnic colleges where people can learn the skills they need is in direct correlation with this.

No party really has it down on this, so here is my solution – advertise universities as skill-specific. No offense, but do people really want to go to MMU to study physics? No, they want to go to the University of Manchester, or Oxford or Cambridge. You do however go to MMU for their excellent business school. So, could we not scrap all needless courses offered by the MMU, merge their business school with the University of Manchester’s highly rated Alliance business school, and just have a Manchester Business School?

Similarly, Leeds Beckett University (which keeps changing its name to be eligible for new funding to build more stupid buildings) is just a worse university than the University of Leeds all round. Why not make it a polytechnic and position it as a northern hub for learning trades?

Just a consideration.

Brexit, lunch and dinner

Oh, Brexit. The bane of a politician’s life. Such was the near 50-50 nature of the referendum, you’re going to tick off most of the population no matter what way you slice it.

The Conservatives, despite being split pre-referendum, have hitched their wagon to the UKIP vote and are all for a full English Brexit. Labour want to stay in the single market and customs union, which is essentially like staying in the EU without some of the perks. The Lib Dems want to pretend the referendum didn’t even happen.

Having said that, the “Brexit means brexit means breakfast means Bret screwed Bret argument” is nothing more than a vacuous soundbite designed to portray the facade of actually doing something worthwhile. This is something that has become a trope of May’s tenure thus far.

Personally, I hate the topic and wish it wasn’t so vital, but it is. All that can be asked is that if you’re going to give people a referendum on the EU when they aren’t educated enough on what it does to do so, then you must do the same for the final exit deal.

Social (lack of) care

I think most people can agree that the Tories have a social care policy that precisely no one can get behind. My understanding is that they plan on taking your house and the inheritance you want to give your children in exchange for care. Yeah, no dice. Stop giving yourselves 14% pay rises and start paying your nurses and carers properly and show those in need some respect.

There really isn’t much else to say on this. If you care about care, vote Labour.

Please stop weaponising tragedy

Yeah, both sides did this. Just… don’t do it, yeh? Corbyn did it in the aftermath of the Manchester attack; he could have made that point whenever he wanted but chose to do it then. It’s a valid point but poorly timed and used a tragedy as a vehicle. The UKIP modus operandi is to latch onto any recent attack done by a Muslim and use it as a call to arms to boot then all out of the UK. Even the pro-Tory Daily Mail got in on the act to blame Ariana Grande’s dress sense for the attack. That’s right, ISIS went after that event on that night because Ariana Grande got her legs out. Sometimes I wonder whether to denounce my views on censorship and campaign for the closure of that disgusting dirtsheet, but hey ho.

Just leave it out.

The question on the lips of many: why aren’t we nuking anyone?

The most revealing thing from this whole campaign has been the sad showing from the media to swing this election one way or the other. At the forefront of this is the right wing media and, surprisingly, the coming out of the BBC as a pro-Tory media powerhouse.

This was on full display on the 2nd June. Firstly, a BBC editor was outed on air by Jake Painter, who wrote the Tory protest song “Liar Liar”, for asking him to “go easy on the Tories”. Later, at the question time “debates”, the audience seemed full of old white men with a personal vendetta against Corbyn’s peace-seeking past and a mission statement to see the entire world fall to the nuclear holocaust. An utterly disgraceful showing from the supposedly impartial, tax funded BBC.

Of course this leads into Trident. Some want to renew, some want to scrap. What would a good compromise be? Well, get rid of some of the submarines? We have four, why not just have one or two? We aren’t using them (nor should we ever) and they drain £16bn annually from the budget, so it seems sensible enough. Personally I would like global nuclear disarmament, but I also recognise that getting North Korea to agree to that is harder than getting Donald Trump to eat steak properly.

Why give a shit about the IRA when THE TORIES SELL WEAPONS TO ISIS?

Smearing in campaign season is inevitable, but nothing has been quite like the consistent mentioning of the IRA in almost every Jeremy Corbyn interview or debate, and even on Google. Here’s the first page results for “jeremy corbyn ira”.

screenshot-www.google.co.uk-2017-06-04-21-24-46

As you can see, two of the three video links are failed Conservative smear campaigns, and the advert at the top is a Conservative smear campaign. For those who don’t know, this is “pay-per-click” advertising, whereby you bid for ad space on certain search terms. That means that whoever budgets Conservative PPC campaigns has literally bid on the search term “jeremy corbyn ira”. I also wonder whether this is in breach of online advertising law, which states that you can’t bid on the search terms of a competitor, in this case Jeremy Corbyn’s name.

The top 5 results include evidence that Corbyn did in fact condemn the IRA. More to the point though, who cares? What relevance does it have when THE TORIES ARE SELLING WEAPONS TO SAUDI ARABIA WHO THEN SELL THEM TO ISIS?!

And why is no one talking about the internet?

Fake news, net neutrality and the correct levels of monitoring specifically. The Snooper’s Charter was met with about as much joy as a turd hitting a fan, and the concept of blocking sensitive material, such as porn, is just dumb and typical of this hypocritical country. Really, we’re OK with bombing Syria, being a bunch of racists and letting children suffer in poverty but viewing a pair of delectable norks is too much?! Get a life.

I don’t really think any news is truly fake but it is definitely agenda-driven. This goes for all politically driven publications, not just the right or the left as some would have you believe. The key issue behind fake news is the prevalence of everyone trying to censor each other. As a result of each side demanding that the other shuts up, more and more ludicrous stories are put in front of us. Sure, Katie Hopkins getting fired from LBC and the newsroom cheering was great (phenomenal in fact) but we must not set a precedent of firing everyone we don’t agree with.

On free speech… yeah, you have free speech. Have all the free speech you want. You do not have freedom of platform, freedom of audience, or freedom of people’s time. If people don’t want to listen to you, they don’t have to just because you have “free speech”. Oh, and if you believe you have the freedom to spout hate speech, so does everyone else, including ISIS, so be careful with how liberal you want to be with the concept.

BREAKING: Theresa May just spoke about the internet! She wants it all to herself.

In a move reminiscent of trying to tighten the grip on the printing press, she’s now wanting permission to monitor every sinew of the internet. Because stabbings and stealing a van can now be done over the internet. Because being warned about a suspected terrorist on five separate occasions, a guy who visited a jihadist in a Liverpool jail, a guy known for visiting radicalised mosques, a guy who hung an ISIS flag from his bedroom window needs MORE proof from the internet, a place he may not have even been active.

BREAKING AGAIN: Amber Rudd does exactly what I said people should never do and censors an independent candidate as he was talking about THE TORIES SELLING WEAPONS TO ISIS.

Get them ruddin’ immigrants out

Immigration is the issue that ruined Christmas because your dad quoted Daily Mail statistics to justify his slightly racist stance on Asian and Middle Eastern people and then your Mum chimed in with an anecdote of her own and your Gran said the N word and the baby started crying and there’s no stuffing left and too much dry turkey and the TV is shit and your little brother has thrown a tantrum playing Scattegories again and you just want to go home and get drunk and watch Lethal Bizzle’s Dench Xmas Playlist on Urban TV and this is not a personal experience I have repressed for years DONT SEND ME TO COUNSELLING…

Yeah. It’s a fun one.

The main problem here is that no one knows how much immigration there actually is. Figures quoted by the Conservatives include international students, which is a bit silly isn’t it given that they’re here temporarily?

The “Australian-style points system” has been mentioned a lot. Sure, it reduces inbound migration, but there’s two issues: 1) immigration should always be bidirectional; if there are restrictions coming in there should be restrictions going out, and 2) have you seen what they do over there? They send immigrants to offshore detention centres, often via a rubbish looking boats in treacherous conditions. It’s a human rights nightmare.

However, saying we should just have an open door like the Greens… I don’t know what to say to you. The population does need controlling to an extent and we do not need people to come here and work jobs with no demand for more applicants. Labour are close to being right here, with immigration based on what jobs we have a shortage in and based also on regional needs. A lot of migrants come to the cities, when we should be opening their eyes to the many opportunities we have all over the country. It is not racist to say this: stop watering the term down by over-applying it to everything.

I spent time visiting a hospital recently. I saw an accident and emergency department in utter disarray. But I also saw people from all faiths and backgrounds coming together to achieve a common goal – saving lives. If we restrict immigration haphazardly, what will become of our services?

A word on terrorists; we need to get better at monitoring threats. Salman Abedi had been reported many times even by people in his own religious community before the Manchester attacks, and the services did nothing. No immigration controls will do anything unless we sharpen up our ability to deal with potential terror threats before they become reality, and that means MORE funding for police and intelligence, not less. Oh, and STOP SELLING WEAPONS TO ISIS. AND AIRSTRIKING PEOPLE.

To conclude…

Don’t vote Tory.

I wish it was that straightforward, anyway. Simply put, the Tories will likely win this election with a majority. However, my disappointment with this does not mean I want a Labour majority.

My wish is for, at least, a hung parliament with a Labour minority government. Given that we are about to enter serious negotiations with the EU, it’s imperative that 100% of voters get heard, not 51.8% or 48.2%. The only way I can see this happening is if no party has total control. This is the same for every other policy I’ve mentioned.

Call it the “Coalition of Chaos”. I think it will catch on. Either way, if it means putting an end to the bleak sub-mediocrity of “strong and stable” leadership, I’m all for ushering in the chaos era.

The message coming through is less of the same and more of something different because what we have now sucks. The Conservatives have reigned supreme for 25 of the last 38 years.

Oh, AND STOP SELLING WEAPONS TO ISIS.

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