Londoners Record Their Vote on National Polling Day, Holborn, London, England, UK, 5 July 1945. Source: Wikimedia Commons
I’ve had a look over the policies of various parties. Excluding parties which only address a specific part of the UK, and excluding those policies which were very obviously written by the parties to pander to their core voters, here’s a breakdown of my thoughts on what they’ve promised for the following issues.
Eliminating the deficit is unrealistic, so is eliminating borrowing for new spending. Cutting the deficit is ok, but austerity measures will hurt the economy so this needs to be handled carefully. Raising the minimum wage to £8 per hour by 2020 is a feeble promise, it should be done by 2017 instead. Apprenticeships should be open to everybody, not just school leavers and not just to those who get good school grades.
Expanding apprenticeships and developing vocational colleges or college courses are good ideas. Extra funds for start-up loans for businesses is a good idea. Banning zero-work contracts and establishing a maximum statutory working week are good ideas. Minimising or resisting the privatisation of the NHS is a good idea. Extra corporation/banking/mansion/high-earners taxes are potentially ok, but can’t go too far or there would be a chance of the UK being seen as punishing people for their success rather than encouraging it. Closing tax loopholes might help.
Summary: I agree with the Lib Dems and Greens.
Restricting immigration will harm our economy, encouraging skilled migrants in the prime of their lives will mean more working tax payers and will contribute to our GDP and welfare state. Preventing immigrants from claiming benefits for x number of years isn’t a bad idea, but again may fall fall foul of EU human rights or discrimination laws. Getting people to attend English language courses to get benefits isn’t a bad idea, but again we must be careful not to fall foul of any EU discrimination laws. Border checks are essential to prevent the risk of criminals entering the country as well as things like human trafficking and smuggling.
Regulations against the exploitation of migrants, including slavery and human trafficking, are important yet few parties talk about this. Refugees seeking political asylum should have their cases considered at the very least. Removing restrictions on foreign students is a good idea, however since there is no regulation of colleges or training centres in the UK this means that people can set up fake colleges and training centres as a front to provide student visas. A regulatory body should be established to prevent this abuse. People should be allowed in provided that they can prove that they are genuinely here for studying or work and that they can support themselves financially. I had no idea that indefinite detention for immigration was a thing in the UK, but if it is then it should be abolished.
Summary: I don’t really agree with any of the parties on this one. They’re either for restricting immigration (bad idea), discriminating in favour of specific countries (bad idea) or abolishing any kind of terms and conditions altogether (bad idea). None of the parties seem to have any real clue, but appear to be pandering to their core voters or to their favoured media outlets.
Health and Care
Providing extra funding for the NHS is a good idea, and essential. I’m sick and tired of seeing hospitals, ambulance services etc having to go begging for charity when the Government should be supporting them. It’s not that I’ve got anything against NHS services raising funds through charity, but they shouldn’t have to in the first place. I’m glad that some of the parties are recognising that mental health care is as important as physical health care, but I’m wondering if they’re only doing this in reaction to recent popular media headlines.
Restricting privatisation of the NHS is a good idea, but if private firms can provide better care than the NHS and at an affordable cost to the tax payer, then perhaps they should be allowed to compete at least. What I don’t want to see is private firms running amok, reneging on their promises and undermining our health system. We’ve seen what privatisation of security services such as prisoner transfer and parole services has done – I don’t want the same thing to happen to the NHS. Greater integration of health and social care is a good idea, but not integrating their budgets.
Summary: I agree with the Respect party’s policies but I don’t see how they can be funded. The Conservatives appear to have realistic policies but I want the Health and Social Act to be repealed because I think it’s complicated the administration of the NHS. Labour seem to have good policies, but £2.5 billion won’t be enough over the course of a five year Parliamentary term.
If we invest in education (vocational as well as academic) then we invest in our workforce and the future of our economy; it’s that simple. A regulatory body should be set up to make sure there are no fake colleges or training centres acting as a front to supply student visas. Failing schools should be identified quickly and support given to turn them around. University fees should be substantially reduced, perhaps even abolished completely for UK citizens. There shouldn’t be any child illiteracy excepting those with disabilities, and those children should receive adequate support. There should be as great an importance placed on vocational training as with academic training; after all, we need people to construct and manufacture things as part of a balanced economy. Childcare is an issue here in the UK because the costs of childcare can take a huge chunk of household income. Capping class sizes is a good idea, so is reducing the bureaucratic workload for school teachers.
Summary: I agree with the Respect party and with the Labour party.
We need greater investment in viable energy sources to replace existing fossil fuel sources, so phasing out subsidies for this is a bad idea. We are living in a time of limited resources in terms of raw materials and energy. Even if we are successful in replacing fossil fuels with cheap renewable energy (and this is becoming more likely all the time), we need to remember to look after the land we live in and not to shit where we eat. Protecting farmland and nature reserves is essential, we need food and fresh water and we need to remember that many aspects of our ecology are interconnected with this. As for climate change, yes we do have an effect but I don’t know how much. Climate change happens in cycles on this planet – as observed from ice core samples, rock strata and tree rings to name a few sources – but we may be exacerbating or interfering with it and this may be to our detriment. Efforts to reduce this are a good idea even if our effect on climate isn’t the only factor in climate change. The carbon economy is a red herring, but may generate GDP so perhaps it’s not a bad thing.
Summary: I agree with the Respect party and the Lib Dems.
So who will I vote for?
I agree with many of the policies published by the Green party and the Respect party but some of them appear to be published with the sole purpose of pandering to their core voters and appear to be unrealistic in that they aren’t clear on how they’ll fund them. I also agree with many Lib Dem policies. Though I think the corporation tax is unrealistic, this appears to be one of the few concessions they’ve made to their core voters and their other policies appear to be viable.
For these reasons, I’ll vote Lib Dem this time round.