UK parties eye social issues to break poll deadlock

Britain’s main political parties turned their focus to crime, health and childcare on Tuesday as they tried to pull ahead of their rivals in the country’s tightest general election in decades.

Polls point to no conclusive winners and a “hung Parliament” after the May 6 ballot, the first such election outcome in the United Kingdom since 1974, and a result the ruling Labour party and main rivals the Conservatives are desperate to avoid.

But such an outcome would be a boon for Britain’s smaller and long-overshadowed Liberal Democrats, or Lib Dems, whose support could be pivotal in forming a new government.

Party spokespersons took to the airwaves early on Tuesday to tout their policies on health, education and crime, with David Cameron, leader of the centre-right Conservatives, expected to speak later on Britain’s “broken society”. The party believes more social cohesion can reduce crime.

Nick Clegg, leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats, is expected to speak about Britain’s state National Health Service, which all parties are promising to protect from spending cuts needed to cut a record budget deficit.


Prime Minister Gordon Brown, leader of the centre-left Labour Party, which has been in power since 1997, will speak about children’s services.

Options for Liberal Democrats
The Conservatives have consistently led in the polls, but their lead has shrunk in recent months. In the last 12 days it has been threatened by a surge in support for the Liberal Democrats after Clegg’s strong performance in televised debates.

Cameron’s party is set to launch a TV campaign urging voters to give them a decisive victory to avoid a hung Parliament, where no party holds a majority. They say this would unnerve financial markets, which want urgent action to cut the budget deficit, running at more than 11% of GDP.

The Lib Dems have labelled the campaign scare-mongering and welcome a coalition government if the ballot is inconclusive, but the question of who they would join has been controversial.

The Lib Dems — who have jumped into second from third place in most polls in recent days — and Labour are traditionally seen as more natural bedfellows, but weekend comments from Clegg suggested he would reject Labour if they came third.

Media reports on Tuesday said Clegg was referring to not working with Brown, rather than ruling out alliances with his party outright. — Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Excess deaths increase but we are ‘still in the dark’

The data shows 17 000 more people have died than usual since May, but only 6 000 deaths have officially been attributed to Covid-19

A fishy business: How an Icelandic multinational moved profits out of Namibia

Global food companies avoid paying taxes by shifting profits around the world. Finance Uncovered reports on the case of Icelandic fishing giant Samherji’s operations in Namibia

The orchestrators of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen

As the crisis continues to unfold, the biggest threat may be the vested interest in maintaining the civil war Therefore, with no end in sight to the conflict plaguing the nation, the question worth asking is: who benefits from a Yemen at war?

Revolutionaries turn to healthcare

After ousting a dictator, members of Sudan’s resistance committees are now helping to fight the Covid-19 pandemic

How Mauritius beat the pandemic

Despite containing Covid-19, it will be some time before normal life resumes — and some measures will be written into the law

Connected economy is a strength

The global nature of modern trade is a vulnerability, but it will also be a valuable tool to aid in our recovery
Advertising

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

White men still rule and earn more

Women and black people occupy only a few seats at the JSE table, the latest PwC report has found

ANC still at odds over how to tackle leaders facing...

The ANC’s top six has been mandated to work closely with its integrity committee to tackle claims of corruption against senior party members

The PPE scandal that the Treasury hasn’t touched

Many government officials have been talking tough about dealing with rampant corruption in PPE procurement but the majority won't even release names of who has benefited from the R10-billion spend
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday