Theresa May has called a General Election to be held on the 8th June 2017, as we have one month left until the vote, how does it look for the political parties?
In this election the Conservatives have been confident, with strong polling numbers many have assumed that they are on course for a landslide victory on June 8th. Theresa May’s Hard Brexit pursuit has said to have attracted Eurosceptic voters to the Conservatives, which increases their likelihood of an election victory, considering 52% of the country voted to leave the European Union in June of 2016. But the Brexit plans may not be the only factor that the Conservatives need to win the election, the past 7 years have seen the Conservative Party operate an Austerity policy, forcing budget cuts on public services, which have been struggling with the effects. In addition, Theresa May’s image has not been perfect throughout this election, the media has reported that May is only taking approved questions from selected sources, and even one case of journalists being locked in a room. This can decrease the party’s image and make them unpopular as a result.
The Conservatives election soundbite has been that they will provide “Strong and Stable leadership” for the country.
The outcome of the election looked bleak for the Labour Party from the beginning, with low polling numbers and negative publicity. Although the party have closed the gap in the polls and have proved somewhat popular. Labour’s policies are opposed to the Conservatives and their austerity policies. Their opposition to austerity may appeal to voters, especially those who have been severely disadvantaged after the cuts by the Conservatives. They plan to raise tax on the top 5% of earners (those earning over £80,000). On the issue of Brexit, Labour have pledged to protect the rights of workers and the environment, and have said that no deal with the European Union would be bad for the UK, this may appeal to some leave voters, possibly those who opted for a soft brexit. Another factor which could work in the Labour party’s favour is young people. Corbyn has promised to lower and scrap tuition fees and lower the voting age to 16, these policies can attract the young vote, and even inspire some older family members to vote Labour. Although there a number of issues which could impact the party negatively in the election. Firstly, it has always been a concern that Corbyn’s left wing policies don’t appeal to all anti-conservative voters, meaning that the Labour vote could be split amongst other parties, reducing their likelihood of gaining seats in the election. Furthermore, the party could lose seats to the Conservatives in Scotland on the issue of independence, where Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives have campaigned as the main opposition to a second independence referendum.
The campaign slogan from the Labour Party is to be “For the many, not the few.”
The Liberal Democrats saw overwhelming defeat at the last election in 2015, being left with only 8 Westminster seats, but there are factors which could see them do well in this election. First is the issue of Brexit. The Liberal Democrats have said that there should be a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union after a deal has been negotiated with the EU. This factor could attract the 48% who voted to Remain in the European Union and leave voters who regretted their decision in last year’s referendum. Furthermore, the party could attract voters who oppose the Conservatives and their policies, but are not willing to support Labour or Jeremy Corbyn. Although, this factor could be reversed and it could make the Lib Dems a victim of tactical voting, where they could lose votes to Labour in order to prevent another Tory Government. Furthermore, some people may not trust the Lib Dems after they formed the coalition with the Conservatives in 2010, they may still have a negative view of the party 7 years later, especially young people, due to the Lib Dems raising tuition fees after promising not to in their manifesto. It is argued that the coalition may have serious electoral implications for the Liberal Democrats.
UK Independence Party
Although the UK Independence Party has grown in support over the years leading up to the EU Referendum and the leave vote. Although some voters may still vote for the party to hold the Government (whatever party) to account over the Brexit process, however it is argued that the party’s popularity has peaked, and now that Britain’s departure from the EU is somewhat confirmed, they have lost their main campaigning point and are no longer relevant to many voters, the party performed badly in the local elections, being left with only 1 councillor. They could lose voters to the Conservative Party who are pursuing a hard brexit. In addition, UKIP could lose voters on issues where it once stood strong ground to other parties.
Scottish National Party
The SNP will only be standing in Scottish seats, and had a landslide victory in Scotland at the last election, taking 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats, but can they hold onto all of them? The SNP’s strongest stance is on the issue of Scottish Independence, their manifestos mentions a second referendum on Scottish Independence after a Brexit deal has been negotiated wit the EU, they also want the Scottish Government to have a seat at the Brexit negotiations. This policy obviously will attract supporters of Scottish Independence, and the number of supporters could have risen since the 2014 referendum, the Brexit policy could also attract voters who want Scotland to have a say in the negotiations, although they may lose the vote of Scottish Brexiters due to their support for remaining in the EU. The SNP’s electoral success will also be judged on their performance in the Scottish Parliament and legislating over Scotland’s devolved issues. For example, many are criticising the SNP’s education policy, and would not vote for them as a result of this. Furthermore, the SNP could also lose seats due to tactical voting, much like the Liberal Democrats, as some voters may choose Labour in order to prevent a Tory Government.
This was a quick analysis of the parties in this snap-election and the factors which could see them perform better or worse as a result. Of course as the election progresses we may get a clearer picture of how they will perform, but we may just have to see what happens on the 8th June.