A Guide To Voting: General Election 2017

Have you read the manifesto for each of the main political parties? No?  Not sure what a manifesto is or who the main political parties are?  Don’t panic – we’ve digested all the key points from the Conservative (Tory), Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem) and Labour party manifestos (election pledges) and made it simple to understand below.

If you’re suffering from voting fatigue, not really sure what the fuss is all about, or simple have no idea how to mark your card on June 8th at the polling booths then read on for our analysis.  We promise it’s (probably) the easiest guide to understand in the world.

First, some basics.  Feel free to scroll down if you’re not a politics beginner.

General Election Beginner’s Guide

The general election to be held on 8th June is a vote to decide which political party will run the country and make the key decisions for at least the next 5 years.  Everyone over the age of 18 and who is registered to vote is able to have a say in who they want to win.

The day of the election people will head down to their local polling stations (often a school or church hall) and vote for who they want as their local MP – the main choices are between Labour, Lib Dem, and Tory but some areas have strong support for the Green party and Scotland is predominantly the Scottish National party.

The main difference between the political parties is their views on how the country should be managed in terms of the relationship between private companies and the state.  This is sometimes referred to as capitalism versus socialism.  Capitalism favours private companies and a small state, socialism favours nationalised companies (a larger state) and more equality.

If you imagine a horizontal line then Capitalism (the Tory party) is regarded as being on the right and Socialism (the Labour party) is on the left.  The Lib Dems are somewhere in the middle but slightly more towards the Labour side. This might make sense of the terms ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’.

left-wing-right-wingCriticisms of the left:

People tend to use the argument that privatisation is good as it creates market forces that compete to find efficiencies in services and production – thereby driving down costs for consumers.  They say the wealth created by people at the top will ‘trickle down’ to improve wealth and life for everyone else.

The criticism of the left and the large state is that these market forces don’t exist without private companies and the state is inefficient and unable to develop as quick as the private sector.

Criticisms of the right:

It tends to be much easier to criticise the right. A small state and deregulation of markets to allow privatisation has seen huge growth in inequality in the UK.  The ‘trickle down’ argument has been shown to not work in practice and putting large amounts of power and wealth in the hands of a small group of individuals is incredibly dangerous.

Privatisation of traditionally public services (trains, water companies, energy suppliers) has not seen the desired effect in terms of forcing down prices and improving services.  In fact the taxpayer now pays more to private rail operators in subsidies than it did when the rail system was nationalised.

The Media

Unfortunately, due to privatisation and deregulation over several decades, our media is mostly controlled by a handful of people who are very much supportive of the right wing and are being increasingly criticised for portraying labour in a negative light.

Just three companies own more than 70% of the national print circulation. One of the biggest – The Sun newspaper – is very right-wing (as it is owned by Rupert Murdoch) and has previously taken credit for ‘winning’ the elections for the Conservative party.

Social media is playing a more important role in political PR and has a similar problem in that there are only a handful of people controlling the information displayed and promoted through social channels.

What are the parties promising this election?

There are a number of key areas that the three main parties focus their election pledges on, these are:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Economy
  • Brexit
  • Tax/Spending
  • Immigration
  • Environment

We’ll summarise their promises for each of these areas and then provide our take on it all with a quick overview to help you decide how to vote if you don’t have time to read through the summaries or you’re struggling to make sense of it all.


What does the Conservative Party say about Health?

  • Spend 8 billion pounds over 5 years to fund NHS services
  • Recover health costs from non-EU nationals
  • Invest in primary care and mental health facilities


What does the Labour Party say about Health?

  • Remove the NHS pay cap and invest 30 billion pounds over five years
  • Reduce waiting lists with an 18-week maximum wait for treatment
  • Increase funding to GP services
  • Make parking free in England at NHS facilities


What does the Liberal Democrat Party say about Health?

  • Spend 6 billion per year on NHS services funded through a 1p rise in income tax
  • Improve waiting times for mental health services
  • Cap the cost of social care

Who gets the points?

Labour 3

Lib Dem 2

Tory 1

Our verdict:
Labour is the only party fully committing to properly funding the NHS.  If the government can spend £85 billion on bailing out bankers, it should be able to spend more than £8 billion over five years on our health.


What does the Conservative Party say about Education?

  • Scrap free school meals in favour of free breakfast for primary school pupils
  • Increase schools budget by £4bn by 2022
  • End ban on new grammar schools


What does the Labour Party say about Education?

  • Abolish university tuition fees
  • Free school meals for all pupils
  • Bring back Education Maintenance Allowance for 16-18 year-olds


What does the Liberal Democrat Party say about Education?

  • Pledged to invest almost £7bn in schools budgets
  • Oppose new grammar schools
  • Triple the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1000 to benefit disadvantaged children


Who gets the points?

Lib Dem 3

Labour 2

Tory 1

Our verdict: The Tory proposal to pay for primary school breakfasts means a budget of 7p per child – 10 times less than budgets for prison food.  Labour costings have also been criticised leaving Lib Dem top of the points in this category.


What does the Conservative Party say about the Economy?

  • Balance the budget by 2025
  • Cap energy tariffs for vulnerable people
  • Increase living wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020


What does the Labour Party say about the Economy?

  • Renationalise rail companies and cap fares
  • Nationalise energy system and Royal Mail
  • Balance day to day government spending within 5 years


What does the Liberal Democrat Party say about the Economy?

  • Boost economy with £100bn infrastructure investment
  • Balance day to day spending by 2020
  • Independent review on established cross-sector living wage


Who gets the points?

Labour 3

Lib Dem 2

Tory 1

Our verdict: Tories originally pledged to eliminate the deficit by 2015 and now say by 2025.  They also removed previous pledge not to increase NI or income tax.  Labour’s plan to renationalise the rail companies is a popular one with the public.


What does the Conservative Party say about Brexit?

  • Leave the single market and customs union
  • Believe that ‘no deal’ is better than a bad deal
  • Maintain a common travel area


What does the Labour Party say about Brexit?

  • Don’t believe ‘no deal’ is a valid option in negotiations
  • Guarantee existing rights for EU and UK citizens living abroad
  • Prioritise negotiations around retaining single market and customs union


What does the Liberal Democrat Party say about Brexit?

  • Have a second referendum once the terms of leaving are agreed
  • Focus on protecting rights of EU citizens in the UK and expats in the EU
  • Continue membership of the single market and customs union


Who gets the points?

Lib Dem 3

Labour 2

Tory 1

Our verdict: Liberal Democrats are the only party to offer a second referendum once a deal has been reached with Brussels and we know what leaving looks like.  Experts are suggesting the Brexit vote is now impacting on households with rising costs and falling wages and say being part of the EU increases security against terror attacks.

Tax & Spending

What does the Conservative Party say about Tax/spending?

  • Personal tax allowance to increase to £12,500 and higher rate to £50,000 by 2020
  • Cut corporation tax to 17% by 2020
  • Scrap pension triple lock (the scheme that determines how pensions increase in value) after 2020


What does the Labour Party say about Tax/spending?

  • No tax increases for people earning less than £80,000 per year
  • Guarantee state pension triple lock
  • Increase corporation tax but maintain level below most major developed economies


What does the Liberal Democrat Party say about Tax/spending?

  • Increase income tax by 1p to spend on NHS and social care
  • Continue with the triple lock pension scheme
  • Reverse corporation tax cuts and reverse cuts to capital gains tax and marriage allowance


Who gets the points?

Tory 2

Labour 2

Lib Dem 2

Our verdict: This very much depends on who you are.  Older people have been upset by Tory pension plans while businesses would prefer the further cuts to corporation tax.  Those wanting more investment in health might like the Lib Dem plans on tax increases ring-fenced to spend on the NHS.


What does the Conservative Party say about Immigration?

  • Sustainable levels of immigration in the tens of thousands
  • Overseas students counted in the immigration stats
  • Reduce asylum claims but allow refugees affected by conflict or oppression


What does the Labour Party say about Immigration?

  • Take in a fair share of refugees
  • Crackdown on fake colleges but not include overseas students in immigration stats
  • End freedom of movement as part of leaving EU


What does the Liberal Democrat Party say about Immigration?

  • Want to continue freedom of movement as part of EU negotiations
  • Bring in 50,000 vulnerable people from Syria
  • Portray the benefits of immigration


Who gets the points?

Tory: 1

Labour: 1

Lib Dem: 1

Our verdict: Another tough call on a highly emotive subject.  We need net migration to the UK to fill jobs but the unemployment rates of migrants is around three times higher than across the UK generally.  A focus on migration for skilled workers should be the key for all parties.


What does the Conservative Party say about the Environment?

  • Supportive of fracking
  • Opening up the option to reverse ban on fox hunting
  • Take action against poor air quality


What does the Labour Party say about the Environment?

  • Introduce a ‘Clean Air Act’ to tackle poor air quality
  • Ban fracking
  • Move to a low carbon economy and meet climate change targets


What does the Liberal Democrat Party say about the Environment?

  • Introduce air quality plan to reduce deaths
  • Oppose fracking and expansion of Heathrow airport
  • Create five new green laws covering carbon emissions, transport, and waste


Who gets the points?

Lib Dem 3

Labour 2

Tory 0

Our verdict:
Clear win for the Liberal Democrats here and if it was possible to give minus points then the Tories would be in trouble with very little commitment to the environment in their manifesto. The fact Theresa May appears to want to bring back fox hunting says it all.



Liberal Democrat = 16

Labour = 15

Conservative = 7


How To Vote On Election Day

You need to weigh up what’s important to you and then look at what the situation is in your constituency.  If you lean towards Labour but the seat in your area is contested between Lib Dem and Conservatives then you’d be better represented voting for the Liberal Democrats as their policies are more closely aligned to Labour then the Tories.

The reverse is true for those Liberal Democrat voters.  The Conservatives are so far from what your party is standing for that you’d be better served voting for Labour to prevent the Tories from being elected.

There is a website on how to vote tactically to ensure the Tories don’t get in if you’re that way inclined – you just enter your postcode and the computer magically lets you know who to vote for.


On a Greener note:

The Green Party have no chance of being elected just yet – which is a shame.  They have some excellent policies on the economy, health, education and of course the environment.  If you’re in a constituency where the Green Party have a shout of winning then you’d be doing a good deed by voting for them.


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