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A General Election is coming and nobody has a clue how it is going to pan out…

Today is the day I start to write again. I have not written any political or journalistic pieces for a while. I chose to take a break from writing to focus on my PhD thesis and other work commitments. But a general election is looming. And I want to ‘do my bit’.

Right, here goes…

The General Election

The general election will take place on 12 December and it is a very important one at that. For some, this election is framed heavily around Brexit. For others, it is an opportunity to bring about radical progressive change to fix many of the social injustices that exist across the United Kingdom – such as poverty and inequality. And for many, the upcoming elections and their priorities could very much be a mixture of both constitutional and based on domestic public policy.

But in Scotland, we have the added dimension of another vote on Scottish independence which will have significant influence how votes will be cast. In a recent YouGov poll, it is suggested the SNP will get 42% of Scottish votes on 12 December. The current support for Scotland voting to become an independent country in any upcoming referendum is on a knife edge. With the ‘don’t knows’ removed, polls suggest support for Scotland leaving the United Kingdom is at 49%.

Corbyn and the SNP?

So what can we expect from General Election 2019? Well, the short answer is we don’t know. And I myself certainly don’t know. I can tell you what I hope for. A Corbyn-led Government ‘propped up’ by the SNP, Plaid and Green. I hope tensions reduce and the next steps on ‘fixing’ Brexit is agreed. I hope fair and progressive policies start to make better the damage neo-liberal politics have made to the UK over the past 40 years. And finally, I would like to see Scotland given another independence referendum which the SNP already have a “cast-iron mandate” for. So as you can see, I am not asking for much.

“Impossible” to predict

I am however not alone on not being able to predict the outcome of any UK-wide vote. Even academics are finding it “impossible” to predict what the outcome of the upcoming general election. Paula Surridge, a senior lecturer at University of Bristol’s school of sociology, politics and international studies, wrote in the Guardian on 6 November:

Virtually every piece of election coverage so far has stressed its unpredictability. The reason for this, other than pundits’ reluctance to get their fingers burned again after the surprise results of 2015 and 2017, is a cocktail of voter volatility and an electoral system that’s creaking at the seams.

Surridge is spot on with voter “volatility” and the “creaking” of our democracy under the UK electoral system. However, I’d argue the UK’s ‘First Past the Post’ (FPTP) electoral system has not been fit for purpose for some time. Most noteworthy, the FPTP system disproportionality negatively impacts on smaller parties chances of picking up a substantial number of votes – such as the Green Party.

FPTP and its tensions

No vote should be a ‘wasted vote’ and the electoral system used to elect the UK parliament should not influence how the electorate want to cast their vote. At the moment, FPTP is forcing many to vote tactically. In my opinion, the UK Parliament should adopt a fairer more representative electoral system – such as proportional representation. I’m looking at you UK Labour. Why such a progressive and inclusive party support FPTP is difficult to get your head around? Or is to perpetuate the UK’s ‘winner takes all’ two-party politics? But I suppose that is for Labour to defend.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will explore some of the tensions that have been brought about and inflamed because of our FPTP system – such as calls for Scottish Green Party candidates to not contest marginal seats and the Unite for Remain pact in England and Wales. But these types of discussions and important issues demand their own article.

The PM has “no friends”

Anyway back to the general election 2019, polling expert John Curtice said on LBC, that a “record number of non-Conservative and non-Labour MPs” will likely be elected to the UK Parliament in the upcoming general election. This is significant; Curtice believes this outcome could lead to Boris Johnson finding it difficult to form a government because he has “no friends” amongst opposition parties.

Moreover, Curtice suggests it is more likely Jeremy Corbyn could form a deal with the SNP, Lib Dems and/or other smaller parties that sit in the House of Commons.

Although, the leader of Scottish Labour Richard Leonard claim their will be “no pacts” with the SNP, I can see this being a likely outcome. Any pact could come in the form a ‘confidence and supply deal’ – which is made famous by the DUP and the Conservatives in 2017 – or on a more informal vote by vote basis. The First minister of Scotland and leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon did not rule out a post-election pact Labour to keep the Johnson out of office.

I personally cannot see Corbyn able or willing to secure some kind of ‘confidence and supply deal’ or a coalition with the Liberal Democrats – as long as Jo Swinson remains as leader. And I certainly cannot see Swinson wanting to do a deal with Crobyn. Swinson has also been very clear in ruling out such an idea.

Register to vote

So to conclude, I’m back writing and this is a very important election. And essentially nobody has a clue how this election is going to pan out. But what I do know is the UK – and Scotland more specifically – needs radical change and I’m hoping parties like ‘rUK’ Labour, Green and SNP will make significant gains to bring about that change.

But most importantly at this early stage in the general election campaign is to get your friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues and people you interact with on the street to register to vote. It only takes minutes and you can do it here.

Featured image via: Wikimedia Commons

By Brian Finlay

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