By Hallum Cowell
What happened last week in the general election campaign?
In the final full week of campaigning before the general election each party has been ramping up its efforts in the hope of convincing swing voters to vote for them. Polling opens this Thursday, December 12 from 7am until 10 pm.
Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage had an interview with the BBC in which he urged voters to back him so he could hold the Conservatives to account in Parliament. He also said that the Labour Party had broken may of its promises. Finally, he added that the Brexit Party had “dragged the Conservative Party” towards Brexit and that his party could ensure Boris Johnson would keep his Brexit promises.
On its Twitter account, the party has also criticized the Universal Credit system and vowed to, “make Universal Credit work”. The party also retracted the whip from one of its MEPs, John Longworth, after perceived criticism of the party’s Brexit strategy. Additionally, on December 5, three Brexit Party MEPs quit the party to join the Conservative Party.
Since the terror attack on London Bridge on November 29, the party has denounced early release policies. Party leader Boris Johnson also promised a tax-cutting budget and to begin a review of the UK’s defence and security capabilities if elected. The party received a flurry of controversy after publishing a controversial graphic insinuating Jeremy Corbyn is “soft on terrorism” and Boris Johnson is “tough on terrorists,” said to have politicized the attack very soon after it took place. On BBC Radio Chancellor Sajid Javid dismissed that the Conservative Party had been slow to act on Islamophobia. In other news, Johnson announced a technology tax where large online companies would face a two per cent tax on UK sales as of April 2020.
The DUP has been keeping its campaign going in Northern Ireland with frequent attacks on its main rival, Sinn Fein claiming that DUP is the only “party with a plan.” With Stormont still at a standstill, the DUP is likely hoping for a large majority in Northern Ireland.
On December 5, the Green party released its “New deal for nature” which includes over 70 pledges on nature and wildlife. The Green Party, along with others, has also been attacking Boris Johnson over his relationship with US President Donald Trump. The Green Party has announced an end to the “throwaway economy” and say it will create a “repair cafe” in every community.
John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor has been outlining Labour’s pledges on inequality in which he reiterated policies such as the £10 an hour living wage and scrapping tuition fees. Labour has also promised to recruit 20,000 more teachers if elected, in addition to capping class sizes at 30 pupils.
Labour promised to tackle homelessness calling it a “national shame” and also argued that with its renationalisation plans it can save the average household around £6000 a year and cut rail fairs by up to 75%. 70 former and current members of staff at the Labour Party have also begun giving testimony to the Equality and Human Rights Commission as part of its probe into anti-Semitism within the party.
Liberal Democrat Party
During an Andrew Marr interview, the party leader Jo Swinson apologised for her party’s decisions during the 2010-2015 coalition government. Conflicting news is also coming out of the party; throughout the campaign, the Liberal Democrats said they will not go into a coalition with other parties but on December 5, rumours began to surface that the Liberal Democrats could back Labour in a hung Parliament to force a second Brexit vote. However, as with most parties during a general election campaign, they will not disclose their willingness to enter into a coalition as they must simply focus on gaining as many votes for their candidates as possible.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price argued that Westminster will listen to Wales’ interests if more Plaid Cymru MPs were to be elected. The Party made the case for a Welsh veto to take the NHS out of trade deals with the United States as well as releasing more policies for farmers in Wales. The party has been keen to capitalise on the ONS’s decision to not allow non-white people to automatically identify as Welsh which Plaid Cymru described as “institutional prejudice”. The party has also called for “more money and respect” to teachers following PISA results.
The Scottish National Party has been facing criticism this week after the Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that the party’s manifesto is not costed properly. The think tank stated that the manifesto was more concerned with independence than setting up a costed plan for government. A member of the SNPs anti-Semitism probe has resigned from the party has resigned after she was accused of anti-Semitism herself. Denise Findlay was on the conduct committee to investigate Neale Hanvey who was an SNP candidate for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath. Mr Hanvey was dropped after it came to light that in 2016, he shared an anti-Semitic post on Facebook.
Sinn Fein has been continuing with its main campaign goals of stopping Brexit and unifying the island of Ireland. Their policies have mainly been focused on local issues in Northern Ireland to help appeal to voters at home. Sinn Fein maintains its policy of absenteeism from Parliament meaning it won’t take up and seats they win in the coming election.
Last week one of consolidation and preparation as the parties press home their key messages and attempt to bring more voters to their side. As the polling day grows nearer expect more debate and controversy from each party and more campaigning as they try to make the last few days count.