Britain’s Snap Election: Promises? What Promises?

Well I  haven’t blogged for a couple of months now but I felt compelled to once again provide my insights into current political events. As we all know by now, Theresa May announced earlier this week that there will be a snap election this summer (08/06/17) despite her explicitly promising that this would not happen under her government. What a surprise… (by the way, if you’re a British resident, you should be sure that you are registered to vote click here to register, the deadline is May 22nd).

Some see this as an opportunity to regain political territory and find a way to rival the growing conservative majority whilst others realise that this is a shameful partisan pursuit which aims to strengthen the conservative presence in parliament. Frankly, it’s a disgrace and I don’t say this because I am worried about how it will impact the opposition parties but because, yet again, Britain will become divided and, yet again, we (the British public) will be the the pawns in a rich man’s (or in this case woman’s) game.

I am not going to participate in the inter-fighting of the central left parties as there are much bigger fish to fry. Like, for example, attempting to examine the inexplicable popularity of the conservative party as they have been slowly dismantling everything the 99% once held dear piece by piece. To successfully achieve this I will carry out a breakdown of several of the promises made by the conservatives whilst in office and compare them to reality (spoiler alert – every promise has been broken). The intention of this is not to get you to vote for any specific party but instead encourage you not to vote conservative. Simple. Not only are their promises empty but their care for representation is minimal. (I will be continuing to add more promises to this list over the next few months so stay tuned)

PROMISE – ‘There will be no snap election’. This is the most relevant and obvious example of a promise made by Theresa May’s administration. In fact, the promise was made clear on at least five separate occasions (please refer to source one in the footnotes for quotes made on specific dates). The most striking example of this comes straight from the horse’s mouth:

“I’m not going to be calling a snap election. I’ve been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability, to be able to deal with the issues that the country is facing and have that election in 2020.” – Theresa May, September 4 2016. 

REALITY – Well we all know that this promise was broken, I mean, it’s obvious.

PROMISE – To make a better Britain and to make the UK’s exit of the EU a success. This was said after Theresa May took leadership of the conservative party following David Cameron’s resignation. The BBC reported that Theresa May:

“said her leadership bid had been based on the need for “strong, proven leadership”, the ability to unite both party and country and a “positive vision” for Britain’s future.” – Source 2 in the references, click here to read the article.

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REALITY – As for a ‘better Britain’ social security has been slashed, the NHS is being denied much needed funding (see source 21), the electorate is more divided than it has been for decades, child poverty is getting worse (refer to sources 3 and 4 in references) – the number of children in absolute poverty is expected to increase dramatically by 2020- since March of this year 95 care firms have cancelled contracts across the UK with local councils due to a lack of funding (see source 5 in bibliography) and around 200,000 disabled people faced their benefits being refused due to conservative cuts to public funding (see source 6 in bibliography). As for the UK’s exit from the EU being a success I will refer you to my previous post on Brexit and let you make your mind up as to it’s current ‘success’ (click here to view the post). Clearly Theresa May defines ‘strong leadership’ as actuating her Machiavellian ideals by fuelling the conservative machine and systematically purging the most basic needs of the 99% of British people.

PROMISE – Not to cut tax credits. This promise was made during Cameron’s election campaign and it is argued that it was a gimmick made by the conservatives to pander to working class voters (see source 7).

REALITY – I have embedded a 1:08 minute video that tells you all you need to know about this conservative promise:

This emotive account made by a conservative voter confirms that this promise was yet another conservative lie.

PROMISE – To begin a ‘golden era’ of relations with China. This promise was made before Theresa May went to the 2016 G20 summit; she claimed that she would open up a dialogue with president Xi about creating a ‘strategic partnership’ with China (see source 8).

REALITY – Of course, when May talks about a ‘golden era’ she literally means one that that is made of gold. In other words, she want’s China’s money. Economically speaking, Brexit has made the temptation of Eastern wealth very appealing to the greedy, however, this promise has not been met as we are still part of the EU and therefore unable to make independent trade deals. This is a good thing as wealth from EU trade is far more abundant than from the singular sovereign state of China. Moreover, this promise from Theresa May has been effectively dismantled following numerous policies that prohibit educated migrants from coming to the UK. If we consider higher education as an example, student visas have changed under May’s administration and now it is harder than ever to be a foreign student within the UK (see source 9). Apparently, Theresa’s ‘golden era’ means stagnant trade promises and a heightened immigration policy. Who knew?

PROMISE – To cut net migration to the UK by tens of thousands. This promise appealed to many of the more right leaning conservative voters when it was made by David Cameron in 2010 and Theresa May vowed to continue with the endeavour (see source 10 ).

REALITY – I am relieved to say that, guess what, she failed to keep this promise too. Despite numerous smear campaigns against immigrants and doing  her utmost to spread fear and hostility towards migrants over the past several months she cannot stop the globalised world with failed attempts at isolationism. As is often the case with migration policy, increasing control does not remove pulling factors (pulling factors are things that appeal to migrants such as a strong economy) from both the origin and receiving states (see source 11 and click here to see my previous post on migration for definitions). Migrants will still want jobs, education and experience and Britain will still need their labour to fuel the economy.

PROMISE – Today Theresa May has urged conservative MPs to assist her in writing her manifesto for the upcoming general election (see source 12).

REALITY – She has systematically ignored conservative MPs and left them in the dark on certain contentious issues, so the likelihood of her listening to them in future is not high. For example, in calling a general election May has opened the door to dropping Britain’s international aid target with the UN. When conservative MP Richard Benyon asked his supposed ‘right honourable friend’, Theresa May, if she would continue investing  0.7 % of GNI (Gross National Income) on overseas aid if she is successful in the upcoming election. Her response was:

“We are meeting our UN commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on overseas development assistance.” – Theresa May 2017 (source 13). 

She avoided answering the question in a typical fashion by spouting statistics we already knew but provided us with no answer as to her future plans. The status of this ‘promise’ to listen and represent her party in her manifesto is currently unknown but I encourage you to make an educated guess…

united-kingdom-gross-national-product
See source 14 for link to data site

PROMISE – That Britain is a Christian nation (hands off our Easter eggs). Okay, I get that this is not really a policy promise, but it is an example where May has declared her moral values and taken a faith-based (Christian) stance on norms within society (see source 15).

REALITY – Theresa May’s Christian values of ‘love thy neighbour’ appear meaningless after her isolationist migration policy and promises of ‘a hard Brexit’. Moreover, she has frequently broken her alleged Christian morals. For example, during the second anniversary of the horrific Saudi led  bombardment of Yemen (see source 16) May visited the state (along with Jordan) to begin talks of intensifying relations with these aggressors post-Brexit. Moreover, the visit was particularly controversial in that:

” UK arms have been central to the destruction, with over £3 billion worth of military equipment having been licensed to the Saudi regime since the bombardment began. The impact has been deadly, with over 10,000 having been killed and 17 million people being left food-insecure and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Research by UNICEF shows that the conflict has created a situation in which a child is dying of preventable causes every 10 minutes.”

–   The Independent 2017 (source 16). 

PROMISE – In 2015 David Cameron introduced an online petition service so that people could raise issues to be debated by Parliament’s petition committee (see source 17).

REALITY – Although all petitions that get 100,000 signatures are discussed little is done. A good example is the petition to ‘prevent Donald Trump from making a State visit to the United Kingdom’ that had 1,855,804 signatures. Despite the size of the petition against Trump’s state visit, May will still be entertaining him (see source 18).

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PROMISE – To encourage women into the political sphere and fight for gender equality. Some have argued that May, along with Sturgeon and Merkel, are the beginning of female participation in politics and go as far as to say that they are here to clean up the mess (see source 19).

REALITY – I cannot speak for Merkel and Sturgeon because, in my own opinion, I believe they do some good work. Theresa May on the other hand does not fit into this category especially when we consider women’s rights (see source 20). As this quote very eloquently summarises:

“She may be the UK’s second female prime minister, but Theresa May’s silence on women’s issues has been “deafening”, the leader of the Women’s Equality party has said, criticising the government for its lack of action on pay transparency, childcare and social care. Ahead of the party’s first annual conference in Manchester, Sophie Walker said 2016 had been a testing time for women in politics, despite May’s elevation to No 10, adding that the election of Donald Trump meant politicians could no longer deny the scale of sexism in politics.” – The Guardian 2016 (see source 20).

quotes_malala
This is an example of a women fighting for women’s rights in the political sphere and should be a role model to all.

So the talk of ‘Christian moral’ feels somewhat hypocritical in this context and indeed in the act of breaking all of the promises mentioned in this post.

I hope that this post has encouraged you to think about the incompetence of the current conservative government and I urge you, if you are still unsure who to vote for in the summer election, not to simply follow what you are familiar with. I do admit that other parties are equally capable of breaking promises (such as the Lib Dems with tuition fees or Labour with passing Brexit). However, these short comings of the opposition are regularly commented upon whereas the lies from the dominant majority are often overlooked within popular media discourses. Challenge your perspective and get as much information as you can before making your decision and don’t except anything that labels itself ‘common sense’. Next time you hear the regular criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party or even of the SNP, the Green Party and the Lib Dems, use this post to address the hypocrisy in these statements when compared to the failings of the conservative party and of the contemporary promise breaker Theresa May. I realise that all parties have their faults but the failings of the current dominant party need to be better communicated to the electorate.

References

  1. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-calls-election-times-she-said-there-would-be-no-snap-election-a7688471.html
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36768148
  3. https://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_work/child_poverty/child_poverty_what_is_poverty/child_poverty_statistics_facts.htm
  4. http://www.cpag.org.uk/child-poverty-facts-and-figures
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39321579
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/17/sharp-rise-in-rejected-claims-for-disability-benefit
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/29/manifesto-promise-broken-general-election-david-cameron-child-tax-credits
  8. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-promises-golden-era-of-relations-between-britain-and-china-after-brexit-a7223961.html
  9. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/23/theresa-may-plans-new-immigration-crackdown-on-student-visas/
  10. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-not-drop-failed-tens-10263861
  11. Pécoud, A. and De Guchteneire, P. (2009). Migration without borders. 1st ed. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, pp.65-95.
  12. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/21/theresa-may-wants-conservative-mps-to-help-write-manifesto
  13. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-international-aid-target-theresa-may-tory-manifesto-foreign-a7691831.html
  14. http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/gross-national-product
  15. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/theresa-may-easter-eggs-cadbury-egg-hunt-national-trust-twitter-saudi-arabia-visit-human-rights-a7666596.html (please note that I do not agree with the personal attack about Theresa May’s appearance in this post – it is distasteful and wrong to criticise a person on their looks. However, the source does provide information about May’s views on Easter eggs and ‘Christian values’).
  16. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-saudi-arabia-theresa-may-allies-liam-fox-trades-deals-europe-beware-a7664741.html
  17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Parliament_petitions_website (yes it is wikipedia but i have cross referenced it with the actual government site and it all checks out)
  18. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/donald-trump-state-visit-petition-uk-british-government-response-a7578856.html
  19. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/05/sturgeon-may-leadsom-women-to-the-rescue-amid-political-turmoil
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/27/theresa-may-silence-womens-issues-sophie-walker-equality-party-
  21. https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/six-ways?gclid=CKHhg5_XtdMCFQg6Gwod5aEDUA
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