Head to Head: 2017 General Election Special

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Who should you vote for in the upcoming general election? Read arguments from six voters (each voting for different parties) on who’ll they be backing and why. 

Whatever your views, go out on June 8th and use your vote – and encourage your friends and family to do the same!

But until then, vote in our poll at the bottom of this page, and by all means comment with your thoughts, views and opinions #LetsTalkPolitics

Robbie Travers – Conservatives

I’m not a Conservative by birth, but by choice. Many people looking across today’s choices politically are finding that so many other parties have abandoned them. Apathy for political parties, it seems, is at an all time high. However, we must make a decision based on who we best believe can lead our country.

I’m convinced that Theresa May is the individual best placed to negotiate with Europe on our future relationship.

May’s team of ministers are committed to getting the best deal for the United Kingdom, which is ambitious but which ensures rights for British citizens and the rights of Europeans. May’s team want to deal beyond the European economy and begin trading with the globe. Britain needs to become a global nation, with a strong defence, but also a country even more wealthy from foreign trade and investment. Britain should look to become a hub of international trade and investment, a country that asks people to pay a fair share, but in which aspiration is rewarded.

We need a Prime Minister who will stand up to demanding regional nationalists with their constant unreasonable demands in a crucial time in our country and tell them we need to focus on making Brexit a success before we answer such questions. We need to focus on the defining issue of our time in the most important election in my lifetime.

Anyone who pretends that European negotiations will be easy or that they can secure a massively beneficial deal without adopting a tough negotiating position is trying to have their cake and eat it.

Trade deals will take years to negotiate, business will require reassuring, ensuring a clean, smooth break with our neighbours and our country will need strong, stable leadership. You may mock that as a meaningless platitude, but when the opposition cannot even fully fill a shadow cabinet, why are we sure that they can competently run a Government?

Britain has chosen to leave the European Union, and our country must make a success of that. We must approach Brexit with an open mind.

At times, discussions will be adversarial, if not even hostile. We need a Prime Minister who can show restraint and steel, a Prime Minister commanding an essentially larger majority that can be less swayed by more conservative backbenchers. But importantly, we need a Prime Minister who we know can ensure success during the Brexit negotiations. Theresa May appears to be the Prime Minister who can do that.

We have a positive message, one that seeks to maintain security co-operation with our neighbours, whilst ensuring Britain has the ability to make her own laws, shape her own future, and make her own legal decisions in courts in the United Kingdom. These things matter to the people of this country. We have a message that requests access to the single market for trade, but doesn’t demand membership of currency unions and markets. It is in the interests of Europe and Britain to make a positive deal that can ensure a better, brighter future for both organisations.

When people voted for Brexit, they didn’t vote for racism or hatred, they voted to take back control of their country and to their ability to shape their own destiny. Theresa May will being doing this on a manifesto that will bring transformative change to our country.

At this election, vote with your head and heart, but vote to see our country strongly represented on the international stage, by a leader keen to be diplomatic, but unafraid to be firm.

George Aylett – Labour

For the last 7 years, the Conservatives have been in power. In that time; we have seen the highest fall in living standards since Queen Victoria sat on the throne; we are the only G7 nation where the economy is growing but wages are remaining stagnant; and we have seen public services and our NHS slashed and privatised. It doesn’t have to be like this anymore.

The Conservatives are not just failing to deliver for working people, but they are failing to look after our economy. The Conservative governments since 2010 have borrowed more than every single Labour government combined, they have accumulated more debt than every single Labour government combined and they have lost our AAA credit rating.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is an alternative. Every time Labour have been in government, our economy and workers in our country have benefitted. Labour were the party that introduced the NHS, the welfare state, the minimum wage, Sure Start, devolution, the first climate change act, the Open University, maternity pay, paternity leave, the disability discrimination act, the equal pay act, the race relations act, the winter fuel allowance, to name a few.

On June 8th, we have the opportunity to take back control of politics. The Labour manifesto is the most bold, radical and transformative manifesto for a generation.
Some key points:

  • Education:
    – Scrapping tuition fees
    – Restoring maintenance grants + EMA
    – Free school meals
    – National Education Service
  • Public ownership:
    – Railways back in public hands once franchise contracts expire
    – Creating a state energy firm
    – Renationalising Water and Royal Mail
  • Defence:
    – Commit to spending 2% of GDP on defence
    – Keeping Trident
    – Insulate homes of war veterans for free
  • Work:
    – No tax rises for 95% of workers
    – Creating four more bank holidays
    – A £10 living wage to boost worker’s wages
  • Welfare:
    – Keeping the pension triple-lock
    – Scrapping the bedroom tax
    – Reinstate housing benefit for those under 21
  • Housing:
    – Building 1 million homes in 5 years (half of which will be council housing)
    – Making 3 years tenancies the norm
    – 4,000 homes reserved for people with a history of rough sleeping
  • Worker’s rights:
    – End the public sector pay cap
    – Ensure workers have security and equality at work
    – Repeal the TU Act
  • Healthcare:
    – Extra £37bn for our NHS
    – Ending NHS car park charges
    – Creating a National Care Service for social care
  • Brexit:
    – Brexit which focuses on jobs and worker’s rights
    – Guarentee rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK
  • Immigration:
    – ‘Reasonable management of migration’
    – However, will not make ‘false promises on immigration numbers’

The Conservatives have run this country for the last 7 years. We have seen falling living standards, stagnant wages and vast amounts of cuts.It’s time for change.

Vote for a £10 living wage. Vote for affordable homes. Vote for secure pensions. Vote to scrap tuition fees. Vote for our NHS. Vote Labour.

Ally Sadler – Scottish National Party

The Labour Party, as it is right now, is dead. This is even clearer after the recent Local Elections. The Conservatives already have this General election in the bag, and the sad thing is, they know it. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve heard the words ‘Strong and Stable Government’ coming out of Theresa May’s mouth. There are even memes about it now. But she can get away with this, because what voice is contesting her? Which voice is questioning her? Which voice is providing an opposition to the Hard Brexit we are on track for? Well, it’s not Corbyn’s, that’s for sure. If you thought the Labour Party in England was struggling, look at it up here in Scotland! They were completely wiped out in the last General Election and their dismal performance in the Local Election- Including losing Glasgow for the first time in 40 years- highlights that they are making no recovery, in fact, they are falling further. There is only one viable voice for Scotland in Westminster, and don’t let Ruth Davidson or May tell you that it is in anyway them and their party. Look at PMQ’s since the SNP gained almost all the seats in Scotland. There has only been one voice that contests the Prime Minister, and that is Angus Robertson, head of the SNP Westminster MP’s. Week in, week out Robertson holds May to account, not only on Scottish specific issues but also on issues such as the Budget, whilst the ‘real’ opposition of Corbyn shies away and asks questions which both Prime Ministers he has come up against can easily brush off with a personal insult towards the man.

So the message is clear: if you want Scotland’s voice to be heard in Westminster, there is only one way to vote, and that is the SNP. With a large cohort of MP’s, the SNP can continue to challenge the government and continue to fight for what’s best for the Scottish people. If we go with May rhetoric that now is not the time for an IndyRef2, this further strengthens the case. A strong presence of SNP MPs can keep badgering, keep questioning, making sure that if we are to be part of Brexit, that we get a deal which is right and which is best for the people of Scotland. Someone needs to stand up to May and the Conservatives and neither the Labour Party nor the Liberal Democrats have the leadership capable of doing that. Whilst Corbyn is in charge of Labour, the Conservatives will continue to govern, simple as that. So this vote is not a vote to keep out the Tories, this is a vote for Scotland, this is a vote for the opposition to stand up to the governing party and get the best out of Westminster we can as a nation. So vote for a softer Brexit, vote to give Scotland a voice, vote for the SNP.

Richard Wood – Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats are back. Membership is skyrocketing (the party now has over 100,000 members – more than double its total before the last general election), it’s beating UKIP in the polls, and has done well in elections over the last two years. 2017 presents a unique opportunity for the party to shine and reclaim its place as the third party in British politics. UKIP have collapsed and Labour is stuck with constant in-fighting; of the opposition parties only the Liberal Democrats look set to make gains in this election and be a coherent voice of alternative ideas to Theresa May’s government. If you are on the fence about whether to support Tim Farron’s party consider the following.

Healthcare and education are two of the most important issues in any election campaign as the NHS and the country’s education system are crucial throughout the entirety of our lives through their effects on us, our friends and our families. The Liberal Democrats plan to increase funding in both these areas to maintain and improve the services. The party’s proposal for a penny’s increase in income tax to help the National Health Service in England recognises its struggling state and the need for more funding. Furthermore, the party’s pledge to increase education spending in England will mitigate the Conservatives’ cuts to education in real terms. Vital services deserve to be treated as such; the Liberal Democrats therefore offer a plan to improve both health and education.

In addition to this, the Liberal Democrats are the only major party both in favour of EU single-market membership for the UK and keeping Britain united. Unity and cooperation at all levels are vital for the future. The Liberal Democrats recognise this and want to keep Britain together and the UK as close to the EU as possible. The party recognises that immigration contributes to the economy, boosts tax revenues and enriches the country. Contrast this with the fact that the Conservatives are now wearing UKIP’s clothes and Labour is stuck in a complex balancing act between its remain and leave members and voters. Only the Liberal Democrats stand up for a progressive, tolerant, united and open Britain.

Furthermore, the Liberal Democrats are the only party offering a radical centrist, reform-filled vision for the United Kingdom. Two of the party’s integral plans for change – electoral reform and federalism – have never been more needed. The country’s electoral system is broken and people are crying out for change as shown in polling and the formation of progressive alliances at grassroot levels. A system where seats allocated at elections which reflect votes cast is much needed in this country. First-past-the-post dilutes the true voice of communities and accentuates regional divides. Tim Ivorson, board member of Make Votes Matter, makes an excellent case against the UK’s current voting system here in our recent Head To Head.

As for federalism, that change is long overdue. It is time to formalise the UK’s devolution arrangements and give power to communities further down the hierarchy of power within the framework of a fully federalism system and written constitution to keep the country united. The Liberal Democrats offer this and the time for change is now.

Finally, if you’re on the fence about backing the Liberal Democrats due to the coalition years with the Conservatives, but find yourself agreeing with the party over the key issues in this campaign, then you will be pleased to know that Tim Farron has ruled out the possibility of a coalition with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour or Theresa May’s Conservatives after the election. Instead, the Liberal Democrats will aim to provide a critical and strong opposition to hard Brexit and an inflated Conservative government.

Theresa May’s Conservatives are almost certain to be returned to parliament with an increased majority so it is vital that this is mitigated as much as possible in the form of electing a viable opposition, one that can challenge and scrutinise the government on their relentless pursuit of a hard Brexit, tackle their stubbornness when it comes to opposing democratic reforms that the country so desperately needs, and taking them on in when it comes to health and education. Politics is about values and the change one wishes to see in the world enacted through discussion, debate and delivery. If you believe in a progressive Britain – one that’s open, tolerant and united – then the Liberal Democrats are the party for you. The UK needs a strong, centrist movement now more than ever; a vote for the Liberal Democrats on the 8th June will help deliver that.

…And if you’re still mad about coalition have a read of Eric Kostadinov’s mythbuster of the party’s time in government and see if that changes your mind.

Susan Burnigham – Green Party

The rich suburbs of Richmond upon Thames are not obvious places for a green revolution. Back in 2016 old political adversaries seemed to unite as the threat of a 3rd runway at Heathrow became an ever closer reality. Conservatives, who currently dominate the local Council joined more radical protesters in opposing Theresa May’s decision to give the go-ahead to the noisy pollution ridden absurdity that no one except the rich investors want. A local ‘green leaning’ Tory MP resigned in protest leading to a bye-election and a Lib Dem gain, all thanks to the support of Green Party members. All parochial stuff as it turns out for the tribal battle lines have been redrawn, the ‘resigned’ MP seeks to return and the ‘progressive alliance’ is upheld only by the courage of the Green Party.

The little local upheaval aside it made me consider other ‘green’ issues that will affect the lives of the next generations. Is there a Party I asked that looks to the future; that is concerned not only with this little island we called Britain but with the planet that is our home: Carl Sagan’s “pale blue dot”?
While all political parties vie with each other in the daily auction over healthcare, education, housing and taxes I concluded one party stands a head above the rest simply because it has the courage to look down through the years for the sake of our children’s children to demand that we tackle climate change, replace fossil fuels with renewable energy and introduce a new Clean Air Act. The Greens fight too for the retention of freedom of movement so that young people can study and work in the E.U. through the Erasmus scheme; to learn from each other’s cultures. To protect the carefully honed regulations which protect human health and worker’s rights. I discovered the Green Party’s Manifesto to be a far sighted document; its members are true altruists in seeking Proportional Representation within our local Councils and our national Parliament in order that all voices shall be heard and represented – even the ones we prefer not to listen to. It is a liberal socialism for the many alive now and those yet to come.

As I grow older I understand it is not my life or even that of my immediate family I must protect with the courage of my choices. Whilst it is our great-great-great grandchildren, who we will never meet who will profit from the depth of our answers, it is the courage of the Green Party members I have learned to trust for their questions. They get my support and my vote.

Edward Bourke – United Kingdom Independence Party

Your thoughts – vote in our poll

 

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