Britain, UK, Labour, Conservatives, EU, Brexit

“Au Long Aller, Peti Fardeau Pèse”

The above axiom is French which when translated into English implies, “On a long journey, even the small burden weighs”. At some stage people do begin to question the validity and the necessity of elections. Time and again, the average voter feels not only unsatisfied but deceived and defrauded in most cases.

It is precisely for this reason that one of the 20th century’s most ruthless dictators Josef Stalin once remarked that, “The people who cast the vote do not decide the election; the people who count the votes decide it”. This may be referred to as a cynical observation of democracy by a dictator, or maybe a conspicuous indictment on a system of governance that has been prevalent globally since the times of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

In the past two years, the British public has probably turned into a quasi-expert during this process. On 8th June 2017 they will head to the polling booths for three consecutive summers. In May 2015, they voted the Conservatives into a shocking majority. In June 2016, they took part in the sacred democratic process yet again, voting in favour of leaving the European Union. This June, they will cast the ballot again, this time to decide who leads them in the process of a post-Brexit Britain.

For many, the announcement of this election came as a surprise. The Conservatives were enjoying a majority, they did not have to worry about a general election till 2020, and more importantly enjoyed overwhelming record points over their closest rivals, the Labor Party. However, the reason that May gave for this supposed bombshell was the fact that opposition lawmakers were proving a significant hindrance to her cabinet’s functioning. This notion carries a certain amount of weight in itself. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labor Party leader has continuously called out May on the mandate of her leadership amidst the Brexit negotiations as neither her or anyone else’s Brexit plan was presented to the voters. This election provides that exact platform. Theresa May herself has called this election a “single issue poll”. That issue is Brexit and whoever can come up with the best possible plan to get Britain the finest deal out of its divorce with the EU. The winner of this election will have the monumental task of structuring the UK economy in the post-EU period, a task that not only significantly impacts Britain in the short term but also has far reaching consequences for future generations.

May’s rallying cry of “strong and stable” has constantly been chastised by Corbyn who has labeled both her and her party incapable of getting the best deal for the UK. The Labor Party’s principle manifesto on the other hand, has relied upon rejuvenating the social welfare programme in the UK, emphasizing on restructuring and rebuilding the National Health Service (NHS). A socialist by admission, Corbyn has garnered support on his calls for complete transparency in Brexit negotiations, something that the other parties participating in the elections have echoed as well. This is also a major reason why the Conservative lead over the Labor which stretched to around 20 points at the time the election was announced, and now has been reduced to just 8. The reason for that has been the proposal of a new tax by the Tory government, dubbed “The dementia tax” which would effectively obligate old people to sell off their houses in order to pay for social care currently covered by taxpayer funds. Suggestions such as this, as well as radical counter proposals by the Labor Party such as the promise to write off all student loans, investments in the social welfare programmes, reductions in environmental pollution on top of calling for a more grass roots driven movement has signaled a surge in support for the Corbyn-led Labor.

For Tory’s party, 8th June is a day to gain consolidation and patronage for their own mandate, allowing them more muscle in their bid to lead Britain in a post-EU era. If May ends up winning, it not only strengthens her negotiations with Brussels but also eradicates the domestic hindrances being created by the opposition law makers, most notably Labor. Her most ardent critics have pointed to the fact that she does not possess the electoral mandate to pursue her Brexit plan; winning would put an end to that potent argument.

For the Labor party, it is about gaining the position that would allow them to focus less on foreign diplomatic enigmas and more on the decaying state of domestic infrastructure in the UK. That is not to say that they do not offer objective Brexit plans. They have signaled that they would be satisfied to pursue the benefits of a single market plus customs union. Such an approach could mean a considerably smoother Brexit as a result of retaining the tariff free trade with EU members while accepting a softer stance on immigration. This is one of the primary reasons that many are wary of electing the Labor Party, since such ideas are exactly what they voted against in the referendum last summer.

Alphonse Karr, once proclaimed that “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. A sketch that has taken a life of its own, it applies immaculately to Britain’s political climate as of right now. The Tories promise “more of the same” with their “strong and stable” moniker while the Labor offer radical proposals with strong Socialist leaning idealism. 8th June, is when the people of the UK decide whether they would choose more of the same Or Corbyn’s revolution.

Ousama Khurshid Khan

Ousama Khurshid Khan

is a lecturer at the Muslim Youth University. He has done M.Phil from the National Defence University, Islamabad.

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