General Election 2019 News in Brief UK Politics

Friday Update: 6th December 2019

Written by Callum Williams

As the 2019 election campaign reaches its climax, the polls are narrowing and the country is facing a huge decision with significant consequences.

Campaign Overview

With six days until polling day, the question everyone is asking is will Johnson secure a majority or will Jeremy Corbyn gain the keys to No. 10?

The most likely outcome is a Conservative Majority however, Corbyn still has a chance to force a hung parliament. As Johnson has burnt through any parliamentary allies he has to win an outright majority to stay PM whereas Corbyn only needs to prevent him from winning one.

So could Corbyn win? Yes if a few things happen. Firstly, youth turnout increases above the polls’ predictions as younger voters tend to favour Labour. Secondly, if Labour can hold onto their heartlands in the North, the Brexit party could have a significant effect here with a pro-leave split allowing Labour to hold those seats.

The third consideration is tactical voting. Tactical voting is where a voter votes for a party who has a better chance of winning a seat instead of the party they support. Tactical voting on the remain side is popping up across the UK with voters switching between Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens in marginals in an attempt to oust the Tories. These unofficial remain alliances occurring throughout the country with some local parties unofficially endorsing them could cost Johnson the keys to No. 10 if enough voters get behind the plan.

Andrew Neil’s Interviews

Boris Johnson has continued to display his contempt for the electorate by refusing to be interviewed by Andrew Neil. On Thursday, Andrew Neil launched a scathing attack on Johnson over his decision saying he wanted to ask Johnson about trust and scrutinise his policy pledges.

This interview saga is symptomatic of a wider problem within politics, a lack of discourse and debate due to the failure of the media to hold politicians to account. The BBC is constantly accused of being biased by both parties however, their problem is more nuanced.

The BBC is biased to the incumbent government. The license fee causes the BBC to be motivated by the fear of retaliation if they treat the next government as harshly as the opposition exemplified by the greater coverage of the IFS criticism of Labour compared to the criticism of the Conservatives.

Bias isn’t their only problem, fake balance also undermines the BBC’s integrity. The BBC subscribe to the view that balance involves equal coverage of issues and simply reporting what each party says. This leads to a situation where if the Conservatives said the earth is flat, the BBC would run the headline “Labour and Tories disagree about the shape of the earth”.

The role of the media is to hold politicians to account to ensure the public is informed and politicians face scrutiny over their plans. However, our media has failed, instead of analysis and scrutiny, news now consists of a random person’s tweet, a reiteration of party lines or a copy and paste of a press release. This leads to an uninformed electorate and until the media starts to take its societal obligations seriously and properly scrutinise politicians we will continue to vote on personalities, fear and lies and will never have an election based on integrity, honesty and policies.

London Bridge Attack

On Friday 29th November, an attacker armed with a knife and a fake suicide vest stabbed two people to death and injured others before being shot dead by armed police. The incident became quickly politicised with Boris Johnson blaming the attacker’s release on Labour, starting a political ping-pong between the parties.

Throughout the development of this story many politicians including our Prime Minister lied about what happened. So what happened in this case?

  • February 2012: The attacker pled guilty to terrorism offences and was given a DPP with a minimum term of 8 years. DPPs (Detention for Public Protection) were given to dangerous individuals whose actions didn’t warrant a life but who needed to be detained until they were determined to no longer be a threat.
  • September 2012: The European Court of Human Rights ruled that DPPs were “arbitrary and unlawful” and incompatible with Human Rights laws.
  • December 2012: DPPs were abolished by the Coalition Government.
  • April 2013: Unrelated to the European Court ruling or the Government’s decision to abolish DPPs, the Court of Appeal overturned the sentence given to the attacker and replaced it with an extended (an extra 5-years on license following his release) 16-year sentence.
  • December 2018: The attacker was released from prison.
  • December 2019: The attacker carried out the London Bridge attack and was killed by armed police.

So, who is to blame? The answer is complicated, both Labour and the Tories have made multiple revisions to sentencing laws leading to some offenders being released automatically without review, but the blame cannot be pinned on either party. The current law, no longer permits the automatic release of those convicted of terrorism offences.

However, there are significant failures in our counterterrorism strategy, the failure to fund rehabilitation and the probation service, the failure to combat institutionalised Islamophobia and our failed foreign policy have all contributed to terrorism.

One thing is certain though, the outright lies and soundbites used to politicise this tragic attack won’t solve terrorism. The knee-jerk reaction by parties to toughen sentences or blame others won’t solve terrorism, all it does is stoke divisions and coarsens our discourse.

Next week’s election will be historic, it will determine the future of our country and impact the direction of both major parties. Regardless of who wins, the systemic issues in our society and our democracy won’t be solved. Our current political system, a system of ‘Trumpism’ where celebrity personalities and hyperbole are favoured over policy and integrity, will not deliver change unless the parties, the media and the public take action.

Further Reading

Want to find out more voting patterns? Read Isaac Browning’s analysis here.

Want to know more about the parties manifestos? Read summaries and analysis here.

Want to know how the parties are polling? Check out our poll tracker here.

About the author

Callum Williams

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