The December Election: What Issues Matter Most To The British People?
We're now just under a month away from what has the potential to be the most divisive British General Election since the turn of the century. Indeed, with this country's future at stake, there's so much to consider, and we thought it right to compile a list of what issues people feel are most important to them during this crucial campaigning season.
Is It Brexit That's Swaying Voters?
You might've heard this election on 12th December be coined as the Brexit Election and there is a strong argument to suggest that Britain's potential exit from the European Union could be the deciding factor.
There's obviously so many ways that we can go with Brexit. From a no-deal to cancelling the whole process, it's a whole spectrum of its own. Each political party has their own agenda and it's up to us voters to decide on which one we believe will be best for Britain.
On one side, there's the Remain Alliance featuring the likes of the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, and on the other are the incumbent Conservatives and the Brexit Party. Each of them are advocating different things, and to be honest, if a few polls are to be believed, such as one by Deltapoll only a few days ago, Brexit could be the deal-breaker for a lot of voters.
Both in and out of Parliament, Britain is fully divided and so this election will be the best way to gauge public opinion. With most polls predicting that the Conservatives will keep their majority, there's a strong case for the Brexit that we were going to have anyway, but there are other issues that matter to the British people.
What About The Health Service? That's Important Too!
The NHS, according to various polls, is one of the most important issues facing Britain during this election campaign, barring the Brexit mess we're currently in.
In fact, some polls actually rate the NHS as being more important than Brexit. Panelbase's poll from over Halloween rated it as being most important to 66% of voters, compared to 54% on Brexit.
Both major parties have pledged billions to help the NHS in its current state, with the Labour Party offering to increase its budget to £155 billion by 2023-24 as opposed to the Conservative's £149 billion. We are talking big numbers here, and Labour plan to phase in a 32 hour working week over the next ten years; one which Health Secretary Matt Hancock condoned by stating that it would "cripple our economy and cost the NHS billions every year".
It's an interesting proposition to reduce the working week to 32 hours for NHS staff and to be honest, a part of me agrees with it. I do think however that a good starting point would be to reduce the amount of admin work that staff do - with the advancements in technology, surely medical records can be scanned and archived and then filled in electronically? Some may argue that these would have to be backed up, but for the sake of security, they can be backed up in a secure server room.
Matt Hancock stating that it would "cripple the economy", is a pretty bold claim, personally speaking. We can all agree that more needs to be done with the NHS, and it's all very well and good pledging money, but it's the things that can be done in one term of office that should matter most. All governments are idealistic, but maybe just this once it might be worth considering what can be done in the short-term to build upon.
Crime Matters A Lot Too, Right?
With the seemingly never-ending cuts to public services such as the police and the NHS over the last few years, I think it's fair to say that crime as an issue has become more talked-about than before.
Much like a lot of what is on this list, crime is a pretty contentious topic, especially when discussing the extent of police powers or the way that criminals are spoken to and treated. One thing that should be unanimous is that we need a bigger police presence on the streets. Where credit is due, Boris Johnson does deserve some for offering to recruit an extra 20,000 officers, doubling Labour's pledge from a couple of years ago. Whilst some may argue that this added number would only mark a return to pre-austerity levels, it's a start I guess and then we can build from there.
The prevalence of crimes involving young gangs and stabbings have only risen as time's gone on and I think that all can agree that something needs to be done. The Liberal Democrats have come straight out of the gate and pledged £500 million to sort out youth services, which isn't an amount of money to turn your nose up at. The investment into youth services should make them feel more included within general society and prevent the recruitment of them into gangs or feel that they need to carry knives.
Sorting out crime works in a number of ways, and there's multiple ways of tackling such a large epidemic. In part, it's likely that, for some voters, crime could be the deciding factor, but the approach that should be taken will depend upon what happens next month.
Doesn't Immigration Still Matter To Some People Too?
Some may argue that immigration is still a prevalent issue when it comes to choosing a party to vote for in any election, and that's certainly true, but it doesn't appear to hold as much concern as it did three years ago.
Most polls are rating immigration on par with the economy by way of importance, which does seem interesting. Since the Brexit referendum, you'd have thought with the way that it's been reported that the economy would be near the top of people's lists, but it did come as a shock to find that around a quarter of those polled saw immigration as a key issue.
There seems little finer time to talk about such a contentious issue than with the Conservative Party's recent claims surrounding Labour's approach to the matter at hand. Priti Patel, the current Home Secretary, made comments stating that under a Labour government, immigration would "surge" to levels as high as 840,000. The Labour Party soon dismissed these claims as "fake news". Indeed, the Labour Party haven't published their policies on immigration and it appears that the Tories are basing their claims on a Telegraph headline from a few days ago that read "Labour to scrap all controls on immigration". This, in itself, isn't true, as FullFact pointed out, with Labour stating at their party conference that they would extend the rights of free movement and "reject any immigration system based on incomes, migrants’ utility to business, and number caps/targets."
As a subject, much like Brexit, immigration is a rather contentious issue and different policies suit different people. Personally speaking, I see it as entwined with Brexit, much like the 2016 referendum campaign catered to some sectors of the public's thoughts on the matter. It's unlikely that it will be a major deciding factor on its own, but maybe as part of a Brexit plan, the method on dealing with people from other places will be questioned and debated.
Well, there we are. A pretty comprehensive run-down of some of the issues that voters feel are most important in this upcoming election. Will Brexit be the deciding factor, or will it be the NHS? Until we go the polls in just under a month, it'll be difficult to know, but we hope this has given you an insight into some of the things people see as most important.