Unless you’ve been on another planet for the last month or so, you will know that there is a general election coming up next week. Yep that’s right, next week! That came around quickly didn’t it?
If you’re anything like me you have no idea who to vote for. As this is such as important decision I wanted mine to be based on research rather than emotions so that’s exactly what I’ve spent the last few days doing: reading manifestos and researching policies. I lead such a glamourous life don’t I?! The good news for you all is that I’ve done the groundwork for you so if you’re anything like me and was pretty clueless this will give you a good overview of the two main parties side by side.
However, be warned. Even though this is just a quick paragraph on both parties on each topic, this is still a beast of a post as there is a lot of information. So go make yourself a coffee before even attempting it. Are you sitting comfortably? Ok – I’ll get started.
THE SLOGANS & MANIFESTO
CONSERVATIVE: foward, together https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto
LABOUR: for the many, not the few http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017
Overall I find the Labour manifesto easier to negociate and find the topics I wanted more information on. The Conservative manifesto wasn’t formatted in a way that was easy to glean information on for specific categories. I had to read it all to find what I was looking for (what fun!). Now, onto the detail.
Ok, so first of all we have a summary of the key policies from the manifestos:
CONSERVATIVE: the Tories plan to increase NHS spending by £8bn per year, scrap the ‘triple lock’ protection on pensioner incomes (replacing it with a ‘double-lock’), means test winter fuel payments, raise cost of care threshold, scrap free school lunches replacing it with free breakfasts, push an extra £4bn into schools (by 2022), cut net migration to below 100,000 and increase the amount levied on firms employing non-EU migrant workers
LABOUR: Labour plan to scrap student tuition fees, nationalise the nine water companies in England, reintroduce a tax on the highest earners (£123,000+), increase income tax on £80,000+ earners, increase the free childcare available to parents, guarantee ‘triple lock’ protection on the pensioner incomes, end zero hour contracts as well as hire 10,000 new police officers and 3,000 new firefighters.
Lets start with Brexit and get that over and done with as that is what seems to be in the media constantly at the moment.
CONSERVATIVE: as we know the Tories what to exit the European single market but still retain a “deep and special partnership”, they want this to include a free trade and customs agreement. They have however, agreed to a vote in Parliament on the final deal. They will review whether to commit to any European programmes and have said that it “will be reasonable that we make a contribution” to the ones which continue, but haven’t given detail as to what they will be or at what cost. They will convert EU law into UK law and later allow parliament to pass legislation to update it as required, and they plan to remain signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights for the next parliament. They pledge to reduce and control immigration from Europe after Brexit and seek to replicate all existing EU free trade agreements. They will Introduce a Trade Bill in the next parliament. The Conservatives firmly believe that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.
LABOUR: Labour tells us in their manifesto that they accept the referendum results and will ‘put the national interest first’. Highlights of what they want to do is to scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities. They want to guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who are overseas. They reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option and want to continue to work with the EU on issues such as climate change, refugee crises and counter-terrorism. They will drop the Conservatives’ Great Repeal Bill, replacing it with an EU Rights and Protections Bill and want to ensure there is no rolling back of key rights and protections. They will introduce legislation to ensure there are no gaps in national security and criminal justice arrangements and ensure there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and that there is no change in the status or sovereignty of Gibraltar.
I could write a whole post on migration in the UK and the public preception on it but I’ll save that for another day. However, it is another topic that has dominated politics over the past years.
CONSERVATIVE: they state that they will “bear down on immigration from outside the EU” across all visa routes (though I question why this has not been done before seeing as we already have control over this) and they pledge once again that immigration will be cut to under 100,000. Students will be expected to leave the country at the end of their course unless they meet new “higher” requirements allowing them to stay. Overseas students will be included in immigration statistics.
LABOUR: Labour will not set a cap on immigration and international students will not be included in immigration numbers. They say they will have a “reasonable management of migration” but that’s pretty much all they do say with no promises or pledges that I can find on the topic.
So we all know that although the UK economy is pretty strong in the global market compared to others, however it is struggling and needs a lot of work. So what do the parties plan to do about it?
CONSERVATIVE: if re-elected they plan to increase the personal allowance for everyone; £12,500 for the masses and to £50,000 for those on the higher rate. They will honour their pledge to ensure residents can veto high increases in council tax via a referendum. They plan to improve HMRC’s capabilities to clamp down on smuggling and improve the policing of borders as well as reduce online VAT fraud. They pledge to spend more on research and development as well delivering “broadband that businesses need” (whatever that means!).
LABOUR: for the economy Labour plan to reintroduce a tax on the highest earners (£123,000+) and increase income tax on £80,000+ earners. This means that only the top 5 per cent of earners will be asked to contribute more in tax to help fund our public services. They guarantee no income tax rise for those earning below £80,000 a year, and no increases in personal National Insurance Contributions or the rate of VAT. They plan to establish a National Transformation Fund to deliver £250bn investment over 10 years across Britain. They too plan to introduce a Trade Bill in the next parliament. They pledge to deliver universal superfast broadband availability by 2022. The state they will reinstate the lower small-business corporation tax rate and scrap quarterly reporting for businesses with a turnover of under £85,000.
Education is a VERY emotive topic right now and one that is grabbing the headlines. This is also an area I feel very passionate about seeing as both my children will be entering the school system within the next Prime Ministers term of office.
CONSERVATIVE: the Tories are pledging to put an extra £4bn into schools by 2022. They will also however be scrapping free school lunches for infants in England and replacing them with free breakfasts (you’ve maybe seen Jamie Oliver shouting about this one!). They are saying that no school will have its budget cut as a result of the new funding formula and are also saying that there will be at least 100 new free schools a year. They will be ending the ban on grammer schools and asking universities and independent schools to help run state schools. Every 11-year-old will be expected to know their times tables off by heart (I’m sure I remember learning the ‘bigger’ ones in secondary school). New Tech Levels (T-Levels) will be introduced as an alternative to A-Levels.
LABOUR: Labour plan to go back a little and reintroduce maintenance grants for university students and abolish university tuition fees. There is a pledge to overhaul the existing childcare system and extend 30 hours of free childcare to all two year olds (though I live in Wales so can’t find information on what this means for us seeing as we don’t even get the 30 hours that England do). They do however pledge to reduce class sizes to “less than 30” for five, six, and seven-year-olds. They also state there will be free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees.
HEALTH & SOCIAL CARE
Next, lets move onto the NHS; another topic which I am sure is close to all our hearts.
CONSERVATIVE: as mentioned previously, one of they core pledges is to increase spending for the NHS by £8bn extra per year by 2022/23. There will be a new GP contract and changes to the contract for hospital consultants. They will keep the 95% four hour A&E target and will require foreign workers and overseas students to pay more to cover the cost of NHS care. They pledge to scrap a planned £72,000 cap on care costs, though people with assets of more than £100,000 would have to pay for their care th0ugh they are saying that they could defer payment until after their death. Though that will of course impact on families that I assume would inherit this as a debt against their relatives estate. Also along those lines, the value of an elderly person’s property will now be included in the means test for care in their own home, meaning more people will be liable to contribute to the cost of being looked after in their golden years.
LABOUR: the Labour party pledge to deliver safe staffing levels and reduce waiting lists while ending hospital car parking charges (something we already have here in Wales). One million people will apparantly be taken off NHS waiting lists by “guaranteeing access to treatment within 18 weeks”. They will scrap the NHS pay cap and the NHS will receive more than £30bn in extra funding over the next parliament (which is actually in line with the Tory pledge of £8bn pa too). Mental health budgets will be ring-fenced, and Labour state that they will ensure all children in secondary schools have access to a counselling service.
CONSERVATIVE: they Tories plan to halve rough sleeping over the course of the next parliament and eliminate it by 2027. They plan to meet their previous pledge to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 and half a million more by the end of 2022 and the houses they do build, they plan to make of a better quality. 160,000 of these houses are to be built on government land. They do however want to maintain the protections on land like the Green Belt, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They also state they will continue with the £2.5bn flood defence programme to protect 300,000 existing homes by 2021.
LABOUR: Labour to build over one million more homes, with at least half for social rent. Homeowners will be offered interest free loans to improve their properties. For the next generation of home owners they guarantee help to buy funding until 2027 and give local people buying their first home first refusal on those build in their area. They plan to ban letting agency fees for tenants and make 4,000 additional homes available for rough sleepers in an attempt to end homelessness.
FOREIGN POLICY & DEFENSE
Both parties are pretty similar in this area as both support the renewal of the Trident submarine system and both commit to the Nato benchmark of spending at least 2% of GDP on defence. They also both pledge to better support vetrans by compensating injured personnel and the families of those killed in combat (Conservative) and pledging to insulate the homes of disabled veterans for free (Labour).
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
Still with me?? Good.
You will notice that I have not managed to cover all topics as lets be honest, it’ll be a nightmare to keep going and you will all be bored (if you’re not already!). There are so many more topics you can research such as energy, the environment, worker rights, family and community issues, democrasy, equality to name but a few.
I hope this has helped just one person out there as I know writing this has helped me get clear in my mind as to where the parties stand on these topics. This will help me make an informed decision next week. My decision? To be honest I still don’t know…….the Tories don’t seem to care about people but I have no idea how Labour plan to pay for everything they are promising. As usual I feel like Conservatives care too much about the numbers and not enough about people, and Labour chuck money we just don’t have at any and every social issue.
The most important thing though is to get out there and vote. You need to have your say as no vote is a wasted vote. Pick the topics which are important to you like I have above and research the policies of the main parties in your area. Make sure your decision is an informed one and you can be sure that it will also be the right one for you.
There is so much more information out there. Therefore if you’ve not quite had enough yet and want to know more, I found the following articles interesting in researching this article and helping me make up my mind:
You may notice that the pictures in this post have come from the Labour manifesto. This is not an attempt to be biased, more the fact that they pictures were pretty and…..well, the Tory manifesto didn’t come with pictures!