It has been termed the ‘Brexit’ election, but in fact what is arguably the most important election of our lifetime has opened a can of worms when it comes to exposing the ails in our society. Not that the Conservative party have wanted to discourse to be about anything other than Brexit, of course. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s motto of ‘Get Brexit Done’ is all we hear in his soundbites, as he continues to insist this is the one issue of interest to voters. He struggles to deal with any other domestic topic, be it education, welfare or health. This was made clear just the other day when he randomly confiscated a journalist’s phone when confronted with the photograph of a young boy, forced to lie on the floor of a Leeds hospital due to a shortage of beds, much to the perplexity of viewers. It was obviously a gut reaction, an act of desperation by a politician devoid of empathy and unable to relate to others in need, and one which demonstrates sheer irritation that someone is daring to ask him such ‘awkward’ questions.
But for those voting for the Labour party on Thursday, this action is indicative of the callousness and detachment of the current ruling party, and symbolic of why it is that we urgently need a change of government. Almost a decade of the Conservatives in power, and the impact on the lives of many Brits has been catastrophic. Austerity, cuts to the welfare budget, police officers taken off the streets, lack of investment in the NHS has led to some shocking statistics. For example, just this year the UN released a damning report which concluded that 1 in 5 children were living in poverty in the UK. But moreover, they linked it directly to government policy, stating that the UK’s social safety net had been “deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos”. It is abhorrent to think that from being deemed ‘necessary’, these cuts referred to as ‘ideological’ by the UN special rapporteur. In fact he went as far to suggest Britain was being deliberately being transformed into the unequal society of the Victorian era: “Some observers might conclude that the DWP had been tasked with “designing a digital and sanitised version of the 19th Century workhouse, made infamous by Charles Dickens”, he said.
And yet, in England at least, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s message of equality, higher wages, raising taxes for the super rich, more money for the NHS, and the nationalisation of public services, does not seem to be getting through. Boris Johnson is still leading in the polls, as people still express support for his pro-Brexit stance. In Scotland it has long been a different story. The Scottish National Party has won elections north of the border for years now, and the strong Remain stance up north means that the Tories are unlikely to gain a significant proportion of the vote. Labour has little support in Scotland also, arguably because their policies are too similar to those of the SNP and their politicians less inspiring. The SNP are blessed with an array of competent, eloquent MPs and MSPs who continue to gain the confidence of Scottish voters. And the emphasis of the Scottish government not just on remaining in the EU, and on Scottish independence, but on welfare, has proved a winning combination for Nicola Sturgeon, and is likely to continue to be.
So as Scotland is forecast to be bathed in a sea of yellow once again this Friday on the political voting map, the rest of the country looks set to be a tricolour of blue, yellow and red, representing a hung parliament. And where does this leave Brexit, one may ask? Well it could very well be what every Brexiteer has dreamt of. If the Conservatives get the highest percentage, but not enough for a majority in Westminster, it is not too far-fetched to imagine a scenario whereby the Conservatives join forces with Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. Then together they would proceed to ‘Get Brexit Done’ either with a No Deal Brexit or with Johnson’s negotiated withdrawal agreement. A dream scenario for the Brexiteers perhaps, but for the rest of the country, a nightmare. An uncertain future for Britain lies ahead…