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Who should I actually vote for? A point-by-point comparison of the parties

Posted by
Dave Fawbert
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Yes! It’s voting time again! Because we had so much fun the last two times around, good old Theresa May has decided to let us play again at choosing what to do with our glorious country’s future and, with the next five years at stake (well, they said that in 2015, but anyway), you need to make sure you put your X in exactly the right box.

But which one to choose? Well, glad you asked. Here’s what the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and Greens are promising to do for you on the key issues. And you can guarantee they’ll deliver on all these, because politicians never lie. Right? Right?

Brexit

Conservatives: It’s the biggy, and it threatens to overshadow and inform every other topic here. The Tories are pretty blunt about it: they want a hard Brexit and controls on immigration above all else, even if means screwing the economy by leaving the single market. You might have heard it once or twice but May says a sweeping election win will ‘strengthen her hand’ in negotiations, even if it will literally do nothing of the sort.

Labour: They “accept the referendum result” – so no second referendum – but also say that they will “give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations”. They aim to retain the benefits of the single market and customs union and guarantee the rights of all EU nationals living in the UK. So basically: Brexit, but as nice a one as possible.

Lib Dem: They’re pinning their hopes on being the anti-Brexit party, pledging that, at the end of the two years of Brexit negotiations, the deal will be put to the people in the form of another referendum (yes! More voting!), with an option to stay in the EU. Will targeting only the 48% be enough to rescue their party after 2015’s demolition?

Green: The Greens are pretty much in agreement with the Lib Dems: they’re pro-Remain and you’ll get the chance to stay in the EU when the proposed deal is revealed in 2019.

Nurses in Edinburgh march in May to protest against the NHS pay freeze

NHS

Conservatives: The Tories have pledged to increase spending by “a minimum of £8 billion”, which sounds good, but will it really be enough? Meanwhile, their ‘dementia tax’ to deal with the impending economic bomb of social care has been a rip-roaring triumph, proving more unpopular than Donald Trump in a Wahaca, and resulting in the 975th U-turn of the Tory government as they rushed to bring in a cap on payments.

Labour: More than £30 billion is promised for the NHS, and finally an end to the pay cap on NHS staff – yes, that’s the sound of rejoicing nurses you can hear in the distance. They too acknowledge the social care issue, promising a move toward a National Care Service, and £8 billion towards funding it.

Lib Dem: £6 billion a year promised by Tim Farron, and, following along with their anti-Brexit policy, crucially they’re guaranteeing the rights of NHS and social care staff from the EU – so, y’know, there’ll actually be some nurses and doctors still left in the country to spend the cash on, which would be fairly useful, all told.

Green: They’re pledging to “provide an immediate cash injection” in the NHS and “major investment” in social care.

Tax

Conservatives: The Tories have removed their tax ‘triple lock’ (no increases in national insurance, VAT or income tax), replacing it with a general statement of intent to lower tax and simplify the tax system. So rich people can sleep soundly on beds of £50 notes for the next five years.

Labour: Desperate not to be hit with the tag of ‘big taxers’, Labour have been at pains to point out that 95% of public will see no tax rises under a Labour government. However, all that spending’s got to be funded somewhere, and those not in the 95% will see their burden rise to pay for the party’s pledges elsewhere. Still, that top 1% famously love paying their way in society, so it’ll probably be fine.

Lib Dem: Broadly similar to Labour in that the richer members of society will be expected to contribute more; they pledge to “reverse a number of the Conservatives’ unfair and unjustified tax cuts”, and cut down on tax evasion. The headline policy is a 1p increase in income tax across the board to provide £6 billion per year for the NHS, so everyone will get hit a little, but at least we’ll live long enough to get annoyed by it.

Green: Again, progressive on tax, ensuring that everyone pays “their fair share of tax”, with the top 1% to be subject to a ‘wealth tax’. Staying on the economy, they also promise to phase in a four-day working week, which is surely something that we can all get behind; mind you George Osborne was doing this already as an MP so it’s not particularly new we guess.

The dementia tax went down well didn't it?

Mental Health

Conservatives: A promise to increase funding for mental health and a pledge to “address the need for better treatments across the whole spectrum of mental health conditions”. There’s also a useful-sounding promise to train a million members of the public in basic mental health awareness and first aid.

Labour: They describe mental health as “the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age” and point out that since 2010 mental health funding has been cut. The party promises to give mental health the “same priority as physical health”, which seems a pretty good aim.

Lib Dem: The Lib Dems proudly point out that it was during their time in government that legislation came in to give physical and mental health equality under the law. Like everyone else, they promise “additional investment in mental health”, taken from their overall £6 billion-a-year NHS fund.

Green: A similar line to the Tories (and you won’t read that anywhere else on this article) promising to bring mental health care into line with physical health care and to introduce mental health awareness training, and “encourage a more open dialogue on the matter”.

Pubs

Conservatives: In the absence of anything particularly eye-catching, we’ll leave this to the experts at CAMRA, who say that it is “pleased” by the Tories’ promise not to increase VAT, whilst also welcoming their “recognition that the business rates system is harming small businesses”. Thanks for that guys, have a beer on us.

Labour: If anyone looks like they don’t particularly enjoy a bloody beer it’s probably Jeremy Corbyn, but nonetheless his party seem to be on the side of the humble boozer with a guarantee to list all pubs as “assets of community value” and to set up a national review to find out why they’ve been closing in such numbers.

Lib Dem: The Lib Dems are promising to act to reduce the business rates burden on small firms – including pubs, while their pledge to improve public transport links has been praised for having the potential to help rural boozers. Promising a nationwide billion pound campaign under the banner “why pubs are amazing and you should go to them every single day” would probably help more though.

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Green: Like the Lib Dems, Green promises to invest in public transport will be a boon for those more isolated pubs, while there’s a promise to “support and promote small businesses”. So maybe the Greens are the ones to action that billion-pound ‘pubs are the best’ campaign?

UKIP (guest appearance): Astonishingly, despite Nigel Farage’s one-man mission to drink as much bitter as possible whilst maniacally laughing, UKIP have actually pledged to reduce the number of pubs, to “protect emergency workers from abuse”. We think emergency workers will be handing out their own abuse if they can’t get a pint after a long shift.

My local, the Birkbeck Tavern. Pubs are good aren't they

Sport

Conservatives: All of one sentence on sport in the Tory manifesto - “We shall continue to support school sport”, although coming from the party that sold off school playing fields, we shall invite you to decide for yourselves how much weight to give that claim.

Labour: A whole section on sport for Labour, promising greater powers for supporters’ trusts to have a say in how their clubs are run – particularly apposite after this season’s issues at Leyton Orient and the rest – together with promises to improve disabled access to sporting events and a pledge to force the Premier League to honour its 5% TV income spending on grassroots spending. Sorry Wayne, you’ll have to survive on only £237,500 a week from now on – hopefully you’ll cope.

Lib Dem: A pledge that’s likely to prove popular with football fans – support for the return of safe standing, following the continued success of the likes of Borussia Dortmund’s ‘Yellow Wall’. They’ll also protect sports funding via the lottery.

Green: Nothing in the Green manifesto about sport we’re afraid. Grass is green though, so we guess that’s enough tacit sport support for you?

(Images: Rex)