by Katherine Lucas
With the election race officially underway, another hung parliament is looking an increasingly possible outcome in May, a scenario in which the Scottish National Party (SNP) have the potential to be game-changers.
Ed Miliband vs. David Cameron is a question advantageous to the current incumbent of Number 10 — to the general population, meanwhile, it is akin to being asked whether they’d like to be shot or hanged.
Miliband and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon looked close to coming to blows at the seven-party election debate, but in reality their respective parties can be advantageous to one another. The fear – at least in Westminster – is that the Left cannot be reliant on separatists which threaten the union. Spain is an obvious comparison, if their government were to seek out a Basque-based party. On the other hand, Northern Ireland is perhaps a more helpful reminder of a power-sharing experiment which has been relatively successful. Sinn Fein, rather than using their place at Stormont to peddle their campaign for Irish re-unification, they are basically a device putting pressure on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to issue fairer policies across the community.
by Lesley Grahame, Green Party Norwich South candidate.
People who ‘get on their bikes’, as Conservative politicians advise, do so for many reasons — some life-threatening, some ‘merely’ economic. All but the wealthiest of them are among vulnerable groups that can become scapegoats when governments need to divert attention from their failures. Migrants should not be blamed for a country’s woes as they are people simply seeking a better life and do not deserve to be demonised.
However the anti-migrant rhetoric rarely addresses the colonial, environmental, and economic causes of migration. These include conflict, and also the aftermath of human rights abuses and absolute poverty. Britain claims a proud tradition of providing refuge in such cases. If human rights don’t apply to everyone, they don’t apply to anyone, and I’d challenge anyone to pledge never to leave the UK if we were sunk by say, rising sea levels or a fascist regime. However at times of major migration, there are always those who want to keep the stranger out.
2014 has been a rocky year for the Tories. The one piece of good news throughout the year comes from the narrowing of the gap between themselves and Labour. In spite of this, the shrinking of the Labour poll lead has not come as a result of a resurgence of Tory support, but instead from a drop in the number of people saying they will vote Labour. Rather than winning over legions of new voters, the Tories are simply losing support at a slower rate than Labour. Add to this third place in the European elections, the assent of UKIP and the defection of two MPs, followed by losing the by-elections in both of their seats, the past year has been difficult. There’s little indication that 2015 will be any easier.
by Chris Jarvis
1. The Tories will scrape past 30% of the vote in May
Five political parties vying for votes in England means that the traditional splitting of large chunks of the electorate between the Tories and Labour is largely over. Combining this with the existence of a surging SNP in Scotland, a steadily rising Plaid in Wales, and what looks to be the closest battle between the two largest parties since the 1970s, the likelihood of any party emerging with between 35-40% of the vote is astronomically low.Continue Reading
by Adrian Holmes, Green Party Norwich North candidate.
Following the economic slump in 2009, the incoming coalition government announced an austerity program to tackle the budget deficit. Since 2010 the main thrust of these austerity measures has been to cut public spending and, in particular, to reduce the welfare budget. People on benefits including the disabled and those with chronic illness, are being targeted by the government in an attempt to get them into work and off the benefits system.
The Work Capability assessment (WCA) was introduced by the last Labour government, creating a new bureaucracy to test the right of welfare recipients to continue receiving benefits. The assessments, carried out by private contractors, have placed stress on people with disabilities to justify their right to help. The cost in wasted resources in holding the assessors to account is also high; with an increasing number of appeals being found against the companies used to carry out the assessment.