An unpalatable choice – UK election manifestos launched

29 November 2019

Parallels have long been drawn between the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump: anti-establishment and anti-globalist sentiment, as well as economic hardship fuelled both. The UK general election sees another parallel with US politics – many British voters will face a similar quandary to that which American voters encountered in 2016: an unpalatable choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. On December 12, the British electorate will choose Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn as their next Prime Minister. The former is a bumbling figure with a shady relationship with the truth, prepared to ‘get Brexit done’ at all costs. The latter proposes quasi-Marxist economic policies, and has failed numerous times to condemn certain terrorist groups and sufficiently address anti-Semitism in his party. For many in the UK, this Christmas election will be about the least bad option, rather than hope and cheer in their Prime Minister-elect.

The economic output for the UK hasn’t looked good for some time, with the rating agency Moody’s downgrading the country’s credit rating early in November. This week the Institute for Fiscal Studies added to the gloom, saying the failure to seal a UK-EU trade deal would force the country into austerity. The think tank further emphasised that neither of the main parties have put forward sound policy pledges.

On Sunday afternoon Boris Johnson launched the Conservative Party manifesto, a somewhat understated event. His strategists will have in mind the course of events succeeding Theresa May’s launch of the Tory manifesto in 2017. The Tory tagline ‘Get Brexit Done: Unleash Britain’s Potential’ has likely been tested in focus groups throughout the country, and their strategy to capitalise on ‘Brexit fatigue’ appears to be working. The manifesto outlines plans to bring back the Withdrawal Agreement to Parliament before Christmas, should the party win a majority. Johnson intends to implement just one tax cut, disappointing some in the party. Both Labour and the Conservatives have pledged to abolish the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto sets out a radically different vision for the UK economy, which is currently based on an open liberal economic model: he proposes nationalising railways, broadband, and energy companies. On Tuesday, Corbyn gave what is widely considered a disastrous interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil. The Labour leader was challenged on how his tax plans would hit lower earners, and passed on four opportunities to apologies to British Jews for his handling of anti-Semitism within the party.

Current polling places the Conservatives on 42%, Labour on 31% and Lib Dems on 14%. A YouGov poll this week shows Johnson is set to win a 68-seat majority.


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