It’s almost one week since Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election. And between the incumbent Tory government and the opposition led by Jeremy Corbyn, it’s now clear who is really seeking a mandate from Britain.
May claims to be carrying out the “will of the people” through Brexit; a choice that in itself was meant to allow people to “reclaim” democracy. In holding the election, she says she’s seeking a mandate to deliver Brexit. But she hasn’t quite grasped the concept of performing the ‘will of the people’. Because while Corbyn is opening up his policy pledges for further input from the general public, May is relying on her elite MPs to tell her what direction her manifesto should take.
Shape the government’s policies
522 MPs, including Corbyn, supported the decision for an early election. And he has suggested, since last year, that Labour is ready for it. And Labour has made ten main pledges. These revolve around public control of public services; and ensuring that every individual has access to basic wants and needs like education, housing and employment. Labour also promises to make health and social care secure; and to put justice and rights at the centre of domestic and foreign policy making.
But if you don’t agree with these policies, the party is directing you to its policy forum. So people can contribute to what those policies look like.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, have a manifesto in place from the last general election. It centres on reducing government debt, alleviating taxes, reducing welfare support, and imposing stringent counter-terrorism measures. The negative impacts of many of these policies have been profound. Their policies surrounding people with disabilities, for example, led the UN to rule that the conditions the UK has imposed on them go against basic human rights.
May is trying to distance herself from various past manifesto promises. But rather than looking to the public – who represent a cross-section of political views and diverse needs – to forge new policy, May is asking her fellow Tory MPs to scramble together and help write one.
Diluting the agenda
The manifesto will not be expansive, mainly because the two main issues – the economic and Brexit plan – are not changing and are clear. But it should have some bolder policies than what the prime minister has proposed to date on supporting those on modest incomes, with fresh and distinctive welfare, housing and childcare policies. To counter Labour’s attacks, the Tories will need to work harder at showing commitment to improving comprehensive schools and the NHS.
This could be an opportunity for May to dilute her party’s austerity agenda. But while we contemplate the words that are coming out of party leaders’ mouths over the next seven weeks, let’s keep in mind their records. May has kept her cards close to her chest, creeping through policies and legislation, often under the media radar. This has included creating new grammar schools rather than focusing on improving comprehensive education. And also on the increasing privatisation of the NHS, while underfunding critical services.
May’s approach doesn’t seem to be focused on understanding the entire country’s concerns. But Labour’s policy forum means the country as whole – not just Labour members – can have their say.
And these two approaches show another key difference between the UK’s main two parties right now. Despite how much May says she is delivering on a Brexit promise.
– Contribute to the policy forum, to voice your views on the direction of the country.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election. If you don’t have a national insurance number, a 5 minute phone call on 0300 200 3500 will get it sent to you in ten days.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?