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by Danny Holden

The snap general election

Your Facebook news feed is heating up, and you’ve just discovered that you hate yet another cherished family member, which can only mean that there’s a general election coming. ‘Yer Da reckons that Corbyn “Isn’t up to it”, but you’ve just seen Theresa May fail to eat chips normally. The pieces have moved since the 2015 general election; Ed Miliband and David Cameron have gone, everybody died in 2016, Britain voted to only use big red buses to write lies on and Ed Sheeran wrote Galway Girl. I’m still not sure which one I would rather take back.

It would be misleading to refer to the election as a “snap” election. Since the last general election there has been an enormous shift in the landscape, and a general election could allow this rebalancing to take shape through elected government. It would also be legitimate to say that since the EU referendum, there has been a disproportionate level of pressure on MP’s and public figures to publicly support any Brexit measure for fear of subverting “the will of the people”. Whatever your view on the vote, the fact remains that the split in voting was only about 3%, which is not a figure which should give cause to abandon scrutiny. Hopefully now that the dust has settled we can have an open and honest discussion about the issues that affect all of us. Or not, perhaps we just need to “Crush the Saboteurs” and make lazy comparisons between Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher.

While both Labour and the Conservative party are split amongst themselves on Brexit, the Liberal Democrats have firmly set their stall out on opposing leaving the EU. On the other hand, UKIP are moving to rule themselves out of this election, which seems counter-intuitive given that they have achieved what they must surely consider to be a significant popular mandate. Agreeing to concede some constituencies to give a pro-leave candidate from a larger party an “easy ride” is difficult to make heads or tails of, but maybe that’s just what you get with UKIP. UKIP have recently chosen to support Boris Johnson, perhaps in a bid to attach themselves to a prominent public figure, as the party lacks such a figure of it’s own after Nigel Farage ruled himself out of this general election, and Paul Nutall has faced a barrage of criticism for comments made about just about everything from Hillsborough to his push to ban wearing of the Burqua in Britain.

The Green Party has followed in a similar thread to UKIP, which is the first and last time you will ever read that. Standing aside in key constituencies in an attempt to form part of a front of opposition to the Conservative party, they have recently reaffirmed commitment to some of the issues that are central to their party ethos. Criticism of Conservative MP Andrew Turner for his comments regarding homosexuality coming the same day as the launch of new manifesto commitments to protecting people from the LGBTIQA+ community. Attempts to bring the issue of air pollution into the public domain are also part of the Green Party ethos and should feature more prominently on the radar, as the government faces a class-action lawsuit over illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide detected in the air in London and a study was published in the Environmental Pollution journal suggesting that babies should not be outside unless their pram was covered, to avoid the effects of air pollution.

The Labour campaign so far has become increasingly focused on Jeremy Corbyn himself. Once seen as a liability or a well-meaning buffoon, there has been a dramatic increase in the “cult” of Jeremy Corbyn. Taking a proactive approach, Corbyn has sought to challenge Theresa May on domestic issues such as NHS reform, social mobility and underfunding of public services. Theresa May on the other hand has avoided public debate on these issues and has sought to focus more broadly on what a vote for the Conservative party would mean. Repeatedly coming back to the importance of a popular mandate in any future negotiations with the EU, directly referring to Emmanuel Macron’s recent electoral mandate.

Some things don’t seem to change between elections, and the attempts by the Conservative party to control the financial high ground are no different this year. Recent claims made by the Conservative party suggest that there is a “black hole” in Labour’s spending plan, perhaps totalling as much as £45billion. The repetition of “strong and stable leadership” regarding the Conservative party is reaching near-Pavlovian levels and feels no different to David Cameron’s personal attacks on Jeremy Corbyn in his claims that Corbyn represents a threat to your family’s security. Meanwhile Diane Abbott has done nothing to dispel a common thread of criticism from the Brown-Blair Labour days, while dying a death that was so awkward I managed to cringe my face into the shape of a pretzel. It may be easy to produce more policemen and NHS funding on paper but it will be far more difficult to persuade the people who rely on these services that they can trust the Labour party. In solidarity with the working classes, Theresa May has agreed on a vote to try and repeal the Fox hunting ban, but otherwise there seems to be an information vacuum regarding Conservative policy planning.

Perhaps it is a result of my own background as a “young voter”, but I have certainly noticed a trend of conversation regarding the election and voter registration. Singers, TV personalities and other various other “Metropolitan Elite” are hoping to draw the undecided young voters into politics. Voter disillusionment is understandable, given that we have just held one of the most significant votes in our nation’s history, for it to be met by political opposition, legal challenges and derision by people who don’t seem to care to understand why they chose to vote the way that they did.

This general election could be a defining moment in this country’s history, as Britain grapples with how to approach it’s future. While this may come to be seen as an election that centers around the effect of Brexit, there is a smorgasbord of issues that need to be considered. We have had big red buses with big white lies stamped across them, dramatic betrayals and a split through this country that must not be allowed to stop us from resolving the issues that we all now face.