As everyone should be aware, this countries general election is looming large. On the 7th May, the people in our country will take to the polls to cast a vote for who they want to run the country for 5 years. The choice of prime minister is between Cameron on the right and Miliband on the left however neither will have complete control over parliament, which means it’s the voters of the smaller parties (the Lib Dems, the Greens, UKIP and the SNP) who will seemingly have the biggest say. My mind is scrambled about this whole event. Now, I won’t try and persuade you to vote for a certain party in this piece – I honestly don’t believe anyone should. The only way you can make an educated vote is by making an informed decision on what you believe in.
I think people in this country are, on the whole, wonderful, however we all fall into two quite simple traps with politics. The first is to blindly vote how their household or area votes. Simply put, a child will usually vote what their parent votes, folk in Manchester or other cities will vote Labour whilst those in the countryside vote Conservative. If you are guilty of this and have no other reason to vote for a party then you need to seriously think about whether to vote at all. A vote is a democratic right and you are wasting it by not considering what you actually, genuinely believe in. The second trap is voting for someone, or a party, who simply looks good on TV. Nigel Farage has picked up so many votes by just standing in a pub and it seems like Ed Miliband loses thousands by just appearing on our screens. This is the most dangerous way of voting as you could be endorsing a vision you don’t agree with or casting aside one you stand by wholeheartedly.
I mention those because it’s been pointed out to me (thanks Emma) that I’ve blindly voted Labour in every election since I was able to vote. This got me thinking about what I actually want to improve and, believe me, my mind has been changed a thousand times already! I don’t really know where to start with this so it’s probably best to go chronologically.
I started off thinking I was going to vote Labour but wouldn’t be entirely fussed by a David Cameron-led government for 5 years if it meant Labour got a new leader and the UKIP threat died. Then I decided not to vote at all, as the constant mud slinging by politicians drove me to despair. While I can’t remember it word for word, I watched Osborne on the Andrew Marr show bang on and on about how bad Ed Balls’ was, refusing to answer the question put to him before ending by essentially saying it didn’t matter how bad the Conservative’s plan was because Labour would drive the countries economy to the dogs. I don’t care how true that is, I wanted to hear about your plan for the economy, not you attacking your opponent. In fact, the whole Conservative election strategy to constantly attack Miliband is a joke. It’s a strategy a 5-year-old kid could come up with and quite frankly something I expect from the opposition, not the sitting government. Labour talk more about the issues but take every opportunity to slag Cameron off. It’s politics like that which drives young people like me further and further away from it.
A long internal battle ended in me deciding to vote, with my heart now set on the Green party. Being naturally left wing, and also a huge freak who wants to remain in the EU, reduce Carbon Emissions to 0 and disband all nuclear weapons it’s the logical choice. Furthermore, I’m becoming more and more disillusioned with Labour so a protest vote in this election (particularly as my seat is a very safe Labour seat – which is good as I like my sitting MP) was the right time to use a protest vote. I was also at this point taking more and more policies quizzes and my results were invariably equal between Labour, Greens and the Lib Dems.
However, it’s hard to vote Green when they have such a poor leader in Natalie Bennett and so many absurd policies. They would rather cut all car use to 0 rather than fund ways to look into improving the emissions from motor vehicles. I love cars, and I’m very dependent on buses. We can’t live in the 21st century without either and to even entertain the idea that we can is dangerous. While I stand with the majority of the Green’s environment policies, they actually aren’t offering anything that the major parties refuse to. Both Labour and the Lib Dems have promised to cease carbon emissions by a certain year (Labour 2030, Lib Dem 2050) while the Conservatives will end all emissions from vehicles by 2050. I’d sway towards the left on environment because the Conservatives policies on this are very thin and seem to me to be poorly thought out, like a last resort.
So we come back to my disillusionment with this election, brought upon by the pointless debates. Instead of addressing the issues that actually need addressing, our political leaders chose instead to pander to two leaders, one who only has the support of 14% of this country (BBC poll of polls – 23rd April 2015) and one who can only gain votes in Scotland. (It was actually Miliband’s refusal to do this when I started feeling a little more warmth towards him.) I know that their voters hold the balance of power and the big 2 need to wrestle votes away from UKIP and the SNP but for Christ’s sake, there are more important issues than Immigration, Europe and Scotland. Environment, Education and Health is what this election should be fought about (as well as how they all link in with the economy), but they aren’t sexy enough and Farage, who controls power in Westminster despite not even having a seat there, has no sensible policies on any so we avoid them.
Starting with the environment, the oil is running out and carbon in the air is rising. If we don’t tackle the problems facing the world with climate change now then it will be too late. It’s as simple as that. UKIP would abolish climate change teaching in schools – they believe it to be a myth. I would take a bet that most potential voters in this election didn’t realise that. Has that changed your opinion on UKIP? It should! I’m not saying vote Green either, as I’ve said before Labour and Lib Dems have some very sensible environmental policies. For example, Labour want to prioritise flood prevention and the Lib Dems will double renewable energy by 2020. We have an opportunity this election to start changing the world into a more renewable, sustainable one. By 2020 Costa Rica will be the first country to be completely carbon neutral, there is no reason why we can’t be in a similar position by then if we tackle these issues now yet no one is talking about it! This is a once in a lifetime chance to change our world for good and we are wasting it by jabbering on about immigrants and the highly beneficial European Union, simply because one bigoted man and his racist waste of space party are dictating terms. For the record, immigrants bring wonderful cultures along with a better atmosphere to this country and the EU does us more good than harm. That’s all I’ll say on them.
For me, the most important issue facing our country is the failing education standards. Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers to this however I’m fairly sure I know what not to do. We lag behind the world in our English, Maths and Languages standards and having just come out of education, I know how easy it is to become resentful towards it. I was weird because I liked learning; it’s a sad world if that’s the case. It shows a lack of understanding from adults towards children’s needs and a horrible complacency from those in charge. How can my generation tackle the mounting problems if the standards in education are continually slipping?
It’s this issue that has prompted me to write this blog for today I found out that Labour want to make English and Maths compulsory until 18. This is such a dreadful idea that I don’t even know where to begin in criticising it. First of all, not every 11-18 year old wants to learn English and Maths. Everyone agrees that they should know the basics however once you reach 16 the one advantage of our education system is that you can then decide what you want to learn about. This policy would see more truancy from these lessons and attention taken away from the children who actually want to learn English and Maths, trying to help those who don’t. It won’t inspire more people to become mathematicians or writers, it will just turn more people off. The Conservative government started the boosting of the “core” subjects and it appears a Labour one would continue that. I believe this to be very dangerous as it takes away the core traits that have traditionally made our nation successful, creativity and individuality. Why breed an establishment of robots when you can inspire a generation of artists loved the world over? Why as a country do we continue to crush natural talent and smother inspiration? The lack of understanding shown by those in power is dumbfounding.
For me, the best of a bad bunch of policies seems to be from the Lib Dems although saying “investing every penny we can” is a cheap cop out designed for good headlines rather than useful politics. One to watch in the Education standards are the Green party because they’re promising a balanced curriculum with more focus on creativity than there is now.
Education actually brings me nicely onto Health for I don’t believe children are taught how to look after their bodies properly. The NHS is wonderful and we should all be rightly proud of it even if it lets you down from time to time. Emma was telling me today that the biggest problem facing it is the amount of cases of type-2 diabetes and I was gobsmacked by that. It’s such a preventable disease and if we actually found a way to teach children about proper intake of sugar levels and healthy eating in a way that wasn’t patronising nor confusing then we could save the NHS billions of pounds. The Lib Dems are the only party, to the best of my knowledge, promising to implement more healthy eating lessons in schools. Junk food, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs can all be consumed, but the key point is in moderation. In fact, Lib Dems seem very strong on Health issues as they were also the first party to prioritise mental health care, and guarantee equal rights treatment. Mental health is a grossly misunderstood yet highly present condition in this country and not other people are prepared to tackle it. Everyone is talking about it now, but Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems were the first to bring it up. The Conservatives don’t even mention mental health, except dementia in their policies, an inexcusable oversight. They also have another wishy-washy headline grabbing “increase spending on the NHS” and fail to provide specifics.
So there we have it, my take on the most important issues in this election and yet the ones not being mentioned much. Of course, everyone will differ which is why I’ve tried not to present you with an argument for one party, rather a summary of the key issues from every party. Apologies if my anti-UKIP views came across, they are fairly strong after all but if you want to vote for them then you are welcome to, our country allows you to. One thing I will say is that I’m very worried for the future of our schools. Every party’s education policies fall well short of where they should be and no politician seem to have any idea about how to improve it. The scariest part is, neither do I. This needs serious thought because no country can improve while education standards slip. Education is the silver bullet of politics, the one area where simple improvements would make the world of difference yet this crop of politicians doesn’t seem to care.
The point of this article was never to convince you to vote for this party or for that, it was more an attempt to suggest that you should look beyond the headlines and actually look at the facts. If you are going to vote in a few weeks time then take time to do policy quizzes to find out which end of the political system you stand on and which party you should vote for. I recommend the one over at https://voteforpolicies.org.uk as that lists all the parties policies without telling you whose they are, taking away the traps I mentioned before. I actually don’t care whom anyone votes for, as I understand the right to a democratic vote however if you vote without doing proper research then you are wasting the one human right we all deserve. I’ve decided I’ll vote, I haven’t decided who for – Lib Dems, Labour and the Greens are my only real options but a vote gives me the right to complain about my government if I don’t feel they are representing me properly. I regret having to write such a negative article however that is just how I feel regarding politics these days. There is very little to get excited about when all are so out of touch with reality. All we can do is vote for who we see is the best of a bad bunch and hope that we can use social media to inspire change.