Tuesday, 6 June 2017

My vote for the United Kingdom's 2017 general election

The general election is nearly upon us. So how is it that the United Kingdom is facing a general election now, after holding one two years ago? The answer is that Parliament voted to hold one three years early, the reason being that the Prime Minister wanted to seek a mandate for her vision of Brexit whereas the leading figures of the opposition have been eager to challenge her, both to claim a mandate for their own Brexit visions and to take the country in a different direction to where it has been travelling for the past seven years.

The two primary figures of this election are Theresa May, who is the current Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative Party, and Jeremy Corbyn, who's the Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party leader. Minor figures include Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party, Tim Farron of the Liberal Democrats, Caroline Lucas of the Greens and Paul Nuttall of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

With all that in mind, for whom shall I be voting? For once, it's an easy decision: My vote this year will given to Corbyn's Labour and it will be the first time I've ever voted for the Labour Party. In the past, I've voted for smaller parties (not UKIP) because I long considered Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to be three slightly different versions of the same party. Not anymore. With Jeremy Corbyn, a staunch progressive, in charge of Labour, we at last have a clear difference between our two main parties. Instead of proposing more austerity, more tax cuts for billionaires and more war, Corbyn is instead promising to re-invest in the country, such as reversing cuts that have been made to essential services like the National Health Service and the police. Other key policies will be to scrap student tuition fees, to re-nationalise several privatised services and to protect childcare and pensioner benefits, as well as to expand them where possible.While Corbyn's Labour will still be carrying out Brexit, they have promised to do so in a fair manner that benefits Britain, rather than a "Hard Brexit" (or "Brutality Brexit") that leaves the country with nothing, including stripping away human rights that citizens are afforded under European Union law.

For the 2015 election, while Ed Miliband was a leader I could respect, he was regularly sabotaged by his own cabinet, as he was unable to select whom he wanted and was forced to accept was the Parliamentary Labour Party chose for him. As such, whenever he tried to break away from the image of Labour being seen as a second Conservative Party, he was held back and the party's message was clouded; thus, I was not able to vote for Miliband Labour. By contrast, Corbyn has been able to choose his own cabinet and despite a rebellion to overthrow him last year, he has endured and the party message is from him.

Corbyn is regularly dismissed by his critics as an "idealist" with policies that are "unaffordable" and/or "unworkable". My response to that is why are people like Corbyn, who genuinely want to re-invest in this country and its people again, viewed in such a manner whereas nationalists, warmongers and austerity-pushers are all seen as "common sense"? In 1945, after World War II, the United Kingdom was in ruins and what was left of the British Empire was seeking independence; despite this, the Labour government that came into power under Clement Attlee that year established the support system that still exists today, despite erosion from neo-liberal (pro-corporate) policies. If 1945 Britain could do it, why not 2017 Britain? I’ve noticed that the "We are British! We can do anything!" attitude always seems to evaporate when it comes to, say, re-investing in our schools, redeveloping our roads or funding our National Health Service.

And Corbyn isn't someone who is promising a load of "nice things", only to follow up with the opposite once elected; he became an MP in 1983 - the same year as former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown - and his voting record supports his message. This is a man who was arrested for protesting apartheid and was called a "loony lefty" for supporting gay marriage at a time when it was politically unpopular to do so. He has flaws, of course - he is a person, after all - but for the first time in British politics, there is someone I can believe in and trust, similar to how I felt about Barack Obama in 2008. Only this time, however, I can vote - and I shall do so.


  1. I know when he became leader, american news said Britain just nominated their version of Bernie Sanders. Like Sanders, it's a shame he is so old at his time of running for the highest seat.

    1. And yet, the oldest person in the race again drew out the youth vote! :)