Today morning has been a shocker for many. The Conservative Party has magically managed to win a majority in the UK Parliament, shocking think-tanks and other mere Muggles, who had predicted a hung Parliament. Up north, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won overwhelming seats in the Scottish parliament, whitewashing other candidates 56:3. A democracy is meant to be a collective vote to decide the leader, but the collective shock over the re-election of David Cameron astounds me. Am I hanging around the right kind of people? Because those who seem to have voted for the Tories are not appearing anywhere- the news or the street!
I have never followed elections closely. I always prefer to have my tea in the morning without a newspaper. But the current state of UK politics was so interesting that I couldn’t resist following every bit of it. From Cameron refusing a head-to-head debate with Miliband, to Nicola Sturgeon hugging her fellow female politicians post a debate and just giving a mere handshake to the males, to Samantha Cameron’s tearful remembrance of her dead son right before the elections – the UK elections this time around seemed more like a Game of Thrones battle, rather than a raging battle of words over important issues concerning Britain, both inside and outside.
While Miliband kept up a single rhetoric of, Save the NHS from the Tories, elect Labour and help remove Bedroom Tax, Cameron’s war cry was, If you want to stall the economic recovery of the UK, then vote Labour. On the other end of the spectrum was Nigel Farage, screaming out and about with Immigration! Immigrants are the root cause of all our problems!.
Everyone has resigned- From Ed Miliband to Nigel Farage to Nick Clegg to Russell Brand after the result of this election. Looks like those who are here to stay are David Cameron, his gang of Conservative politicians and Katie Hopkins (something that just got me thinking- How was Katie Hopkins so confident that the Tories would win? Or was her statement about leaving the UK a last ditch attempt at swinging her supporters votes in the Tories favour?)
Those unfamiliar with UK politics, let me brush up your knowledge on who were the main players in this year’s election, which saw more cat-fights over immigration than actual discussion over security issues.
Player 1: David Cameron and his Conservative party, also fondly known as the ‘Tories’. Cameron’s party took over five years ago, from an economically ravaged Labour party, and Cameron’s campaign this year was to elect the Conservatives so that the economic build-up could stay on track. But the Tories are known to cut taxes for the riches, and even though they have managed to increase jobs in the UK, the number of people using food banks has gone up drastically. In 2013-2014, an estimated 913,138 people have received emergency food, a shocking 163% increase from 2012-2013. The Tories have also been extremely vague about their stand on zero hours contracts, which is, just make things less simpler to understand, a contract nothing short of slavery.
Player 2: Ed Miliband and his Labour Party, also fondly known as the Labs or Labour or “Lie-bour” by its haters. Miliband has resigned and is no longer leading the Labour party. The Labours are more moderate in their approach towards controversial topics like immigration, and consider themselves the bastions for protecting the State-funded health service, which was started by the Labour government in England. They also wanted to abolish something known as the Bedroom tax- The bedroom tax restricts the amount of housing benefit that council and housing association tenants can claim. And Labour also intended to lower student fees to £6000 from 9000.
Player 3: Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party– lets just call Nicola a genius who picked up the pieces of a failed Scottish national referendum and created a revolution out of it, to break the glass of Downing Street.
Player 4: Nigel Farage and the UK Independence Party. They are the party that said things people didn’t want to hear, but still grabbed attention. The UKIP not only wants to leave the EU but also wants to curb immigration from within the EU. They wanted to close down England to the world and bask in English glory, but unfortunately for them, the Scots prevailed in Scotland. Farage has also resigned as leader of UKIP.
Player 5: Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems are neither here nor there- they are centre when they want to be, and left when the wind flows in the other direction. The Lib Dems formed a coalition government with Cameron in the previous election, but went back on a lot of the promises it had made, which obviously led to a huge loss of support this time around. Now, all they have left is tissue papers and toilet paper to clean up the mess of five years and revive their party again.
Player 6: The Green Party and Plaid Cymru. The Green Party seemed the most ambitious lot out of all parties, by promising an agenda one can only dream of. The Green Party’s agenda has promised zero tuition fees, use of fossil free renewable energy – basically create a just, equitable and fair society. While their agenda is certainly elixir of the Gods, how the Green Party will manage to balance the deficit with so much cost cutting or handle the increasing expenditure on using new forms of energy is a concern that can not be addressed in this century. The Green Party is way ahead of its time, but was a very clean player in this election. Plaid Cymru is a party that represents Wales. Nothing more to say about it. I would prefer calling it the Night’s watch of the Game of Thrones. 😉
Player 7: Russell Brand and Katie Hopkins. Both are important in this election as both had significant agendas. While Sun-columnist Hopkins is a fire-breathing Conservative supporter, saying things like “I will leave the country if Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister”, Comedian Brand was on the other end of the line, urging voters to not vote, and made a last minute U-Turn asking his 9.3 million Twitter followers to vote for Ed Miliband (Dafuq! What was he thinking?)
Now that the Conservatives are the majority party, with the SNP looking to romp around the Parliament with another referendum for Scottish Independence, this is what looks like the scenario Britain will be in for, for the next 5 tumultous years:
1. To be or not to be…In the EU? – Cameron faces a tough choice in 2017, with the referendum willing to swing both sides. What Cameron can do now is wait for the referendum and later try and reform UK’s relationship with Brussels by modifying some terms of its membership. If the UK leaves, then according to estimates by the Center for Economic Performance (CEP) of the London School of Economics (LSE), Britain would lose 2.2% of it’s gross domestic product (GDP) – or around £35bn in today’s prices – because of the dynamic effects of an exit.
2. Students, Immigration and Visas: The Conservative government has already lost its popularity amongst students, by reducing the visas to just 16 months (for Masters students), and scrapping the earlier system that allowed students to stay on in the UK for a year after graduation. In December 2014, Home Minister of the Conservative government, Theresa May, backed a proposal to make students leave the UK as soon as their course ended. While the Conservative government believes that students are illegally staying on post their degrees, and such a plan should be introduced to retain only the brightest and the best, its a concern for Universities as their standards are detrimentally going down. The SNP has opposed this plan and has also promised to re-introduce post-study work visas for students in Scotland– which spells good news for Scotland, but extremely bad news for Britain. Foreign students make up a huge percentage of Britain’s academic work force, not only providing the UK money, but also boosting its academic reputation. With Cameron’s agenda for, “cracking down on abuse of the immigration system by closing bogus colleges and make it much tougher for illegal immigrants to remain in the UK by restricting access to work, housing, benefits, healthcare, bank accounts and driving licences“, without really referring to who they are targeting, can spell doom for the education system and to future QS world rankings.
The new visa procedures for the UK have introduced a £150 extra fee for non-EU students to access the National Health Service (NHS), which was earlier free. The Conservatives seem to really hate the education system and foreign students, and their hatred has simply benefitted its arch rival, the United States of America (aka USA). Seriously Cameron. You can kiss the reputation of Oxbridge and LSE goodbye with such policies.
3. Scottish independence: While Cameron hopes to devolve more power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it will be stupid of us to assume that the SNP will be walking hand in hand with Cameron in Downing street. The SNP very well has its own agenda, and after winning 56 out of the 59 seats in Scotland, it seems poised to lead Scotland out of the quagmire it claims Britain has put it through for so many years. And that can only mean another referendum, which will be a disaster for Britain. The SNP under Nicola Sturgeon has magically broken all assumptions and has managed to rally a huge support in its campaign for providing Scotland enough autonomy to lead the government the way it wants- and not be at the mercy of the Brits. But how Cameron will work out this complicated scenario with SNP is the question.
4. The National Health Service– no longer the pride of Britain? The Conservatives have promised £8 Billion increase in spending in the NHS by 2020, but the Conservatives pledge is predicated on the NHS meeting this savings target. A survey of NHS finance directors in England conducted by the King’s Fund think tank found that the vast majority think there is a high risk the health service will fail to achieve the £22bn savings set out in the NHS’ own five-year plan for the future. While the NHS had relied partly upon a pay freeze to make savings in recent years, a repeat of this strategy might drive more nurses to leave the NHS and work for agencies. Cameron will have to make a tough decision and his policy of cutting down welfare expenditure might just harm the NHS, rather than do much good to it. The NHS is already understaffed, according to a BBC survey. What will the Tories do is now just a matter of time, and money.
All that said, the Conservatives do have their strong points. They have reduced the deficit of the UK, they have brought the UK out of one of the worst economic disasters in history. But economics isn’t always the judge of a successful country. The Tories will have to smoothen out the rough edges, which are now worse than cracks. If the Conservatives embark on a pro-British, anti-EU campaign, then they are risking a huge economic disaster and Scottish secession. And if they keep clubbing students under ‘unnecessary immigrants’, then they are risking the lowering of University standards and loss of international competition. The UK has benefitted immensely from both the EU and non-EU workforce, and how long the UK can pledge its peace to everyone is something we will have to wait and see.
Till then, Students- pack your bags, the Tories are here.
If you feel the Tories got elected because the people feared them/hoped for a new change with them, then you can continue the debate here: http://www.somymu.com/categories/politics/election-2015-did-hope-or-fear-drive-the-conservat
Or if you want to debate on Immigration, check out this link: http://www.somymu.com/categories/politics/does-the-uk-need-drastically-tighter-immigration-r
For election review, check out this link: http://www.somymu.com/categories/politics/election-review-which-party-leader-has-impressed-t