The Conservatives under Theresa May are starting to find their feet. Strong and Stable Leadership and not Coalition of Chaos has been their marching song but where do they actually stand when June 8th comes around? Brexit has been the key to this election so far with May calling this snap election on the principle idea of getting a mandate to enact her vision of Brexit. Once a soft Remainer, her views have been dubbed hard Brexit and she is expected to include guarantees to end free movement of EU citizens, to leave the European single market and to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in her manifesto pledges on Brexit. But this is not the only policy that May has been fighting for. In September last year, May announced plans to introduce a wave of new grammar schools as well as allowing comprehensives more control over admissions.
The Conservatives are also expected to pledge that energy bills for millions of consumers will be capped which could save about £100 a year for 17 million families. This was an idea rubbished by then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015 when it appeared on the Labour manifesto. The Conservative tax plan is one that is currently unclear as May has pledged not to raise VAT but has hinted she will scrap a flagship pledge which rules out increases to income tax and national insurance; a rule that has caused issues for Philip Hammond and his budget plan in his new role as Chancellor.
The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is often painted as a party in turmoil and that is mud that appears to be sticking going into this General Election. This has not been helped by what has been a muddled history on Brexit ever since the EU referendum campaign last year. Brexit has not been a key campaigning point for Labour who, perhaps due to their sketchy past on the topic, have opted to focus on other policy areas instead.
Labour has come up with a 20 point plan which it claims will fix the austerity based economy in place and includes promises to increase the minimum wage to match the national living wage and to scrap unpaid internships and zero hour contracts while also introducing four new Bank Holidays. On healthcare they are pledging to halt all Tory hospital closure plans and bring back the NHS student nurse bursary. Speaking of education, they are seeking to cap class sizes in schools and provide teachers with the resources they need while also extending free school meals for all primary school children.
They also plan to build one million new homes over five years, at least half of which will be council homes. They will also recommit to the message of ending trident nuclear programme and increasing the number of police officers on the streets by several hundred thousand.
The Liberal Democrats under Tim Farron have positioned themselves as the legitimate opposition to the current ‘Hard Brexit’ Conservative government with their pro-EU message and rejuvenated message which has seem them to good electoral success in recent council and by-elections. So far the key campaign pledges have been a heavily pro-EU Soft Brexit with a referendum on the outcome of the negotiations with Nick Clegg stating that The Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a commitment to another EU referendum where the party would campaign for Remain in a speech where he claimed leaving the EU would damage the UK economy by £59bn.
On other non-Brexit policies the Liberal Democrats have pledged to focus on ending homelessness with a policy that will place long-term homeless people straight into independent homes rather than emergency shelters, which will mean increasing grants to local authorities. They have also pledged to reinstate housing benefit for under 21-year-olds and have indicated plans to stop employers forcing staff to identify as self-employed with policies aimed at ensuring that employers don’t get away with tying workers into exclusivity deals.
Other policy positions will most likely include a pledge to fully fund the NHS based on the Healthcare body’s own internal reporting, which in 2015 was £8 Billion, and opposing hospital closures, a commitment to helping mental health issues and drug abuse. There are also rumours that they will pledge in their manifesto to slow the rate at which students have to pay back tuition fees.
Green Party & UKIP:
Two parties who saw greater success in 2015 that look unlikely to grow on it.
The UKIP main campaigning policy has been holding the Tory Governments feet to the fire on Brexit and committing them to a Brexit they have fought hard for. Although, as a party they are struggling for identity and success since losing their MP and charismatic leader.
The Greens have been pushing for a progressive alliance to stop the Tories while also pledging to a second EU referendum on the results of the Brexit negotiations.