We’ve all seen it, heard of it, talked about it – hopefully registered for it. The upcoming UK general election is one of ‘the most important’ (although the media will say that about any and every election) that the country has had in years. It will decide domestic policy in a country in which austerity and socioeconomic inequality, according to a top UN envoy, have contributed massively to a mental health crisis reaching fever pitch. It shall decide the foreign policy of a country that remains still torn almost fifty-fifty over Brexit, as Johnson’s deal is tossed between ministers like the hot potato that any Brexit deal would be, given how toxic the subject has become.
Sadly, however, this election will most likely be to no avail. Ultimately, all our political parties have become either hypocritical, poorly led or ideologically deranged to the extent that being led uniquely by one of them is a rather frightening concept. Quite like food that’s gone past its sell-by date, we should appreciate our politically parties for what they once were, acknowledging that what they have now become is unpalatable and potentially dangerous.
Leading the polls on about 44% are the Conservatives. After 9 years of their governance, the country’s economic status and figures have greatly improved, or so we are told. Sadly, these improvements don’t translate into a better quality of life for the majority of the population, as use of foodbanks and other social welfare organisations has skyrocketed whilst NHS waiting times only increase. The reason for this gap between national statistics and personal experience simply being that, as demagoguery and fervent neoliberalism permeate the Party further still, the Conservatives no longer wish to conserve much besides profit margins and low tax rates.
Looking towards a harder Brexit position, we find Nigel Farage’s second one-issue party – which is, in terms of its name, even more to the point than its predecessor – The Brexit Party. Given that Farage was willing to stand down in over 300 Conservatives seats, and that he himself was not willing to enter the race for a seat in the Commons, I think it is clear that, although The Brexit Party claims to have sufficient structure and policies behind them, they remain just as one-dimensional as ever.
The Liberal Democrats have risen and fallen in popularity throughout the campaign thus far. Tragically for Mrs Swinson, the more that she is seen and listened to by the public, the less they like her. Although they arguably come closest to what would be considered the centre-ground of modern British politics, the short-sightedness of the Liberal Democrats is amongst the greatest of all parties. Given their hard-line promise of immediately revoking Article 50, and their newfound criticism of Conservative policies that they were happy to vote through during the coalition years, it is very easy to see why they have been accused of such hypocrisy.
Similarly to 2017, Labour have found themselves under the cosh from the beginning of the campaign. Corbyn has faced immense amounts of criticism, many believe rightly, over his close ties to known terrorist organisations and his seeming inability to eradicate anti-Semitism when it has been blatantly present in his party. Although the Tories came under criticism for allegedly ‘calculating’ the cost of Labour’s promises since the 2017 election to now to come in at around £1.2 trillion, there’s a granule of truth underneath the exaggeration and overplaying of the Tories. Do, or should, the British people trust the current Labour cabinet on foreign policy, on the economy and on finances? I, for one, believe they can’t.
Finally, and I’ve saved the best until last, the SNP. A separatist party that is either overly romantic or simply deluded, it seems to me that the SNP do not really understand the notion of independence. They are quick to highlight the (genuine) problems with Westminster and devolution, but their wish to leave the UK, to become ‘independent’, is completely contradictory to their raging desire to bring an independent Scotland back into the EU. This is for 3 reasons: not only would they have far less representation proportionally in the European Parliament, but they would receive less net money from the EU than from the UK (in 2017 Poland, its greatest net recipient, received around €8 billion from the EU); in addition they would struggle to gain membership to the club. The EU states that any state that wishes to join must have a budget deficit below 3% of GDP, whilst Scotland’s is currently 7%.
So, there we have it. Beyond Brexit, there are still so many more policy areas where we can continue to be equally as cynical, outraged, even depressed about the stance of our political parties and representation. Happy voting!