The race to No.10 is well underway now that all the political parties have announced their candidates. This means that the electorate faces the dilemma and responsibility of making a choice between these political parties and their candidates for a third time in a span of last five years.
According to 2011 Census report, only seven percent of the British population identified themselves as Asian or British Asians. Whilst the percentage of this population index has surged there is no clear data to determine the exact numbers. However, the Asian vote is crucial for all political parties especially in light of the entrepreneurial foothold that the community has established over the last decade. Fissures over leaving versus remaining in the EU, part-privatisation of the NHS versus a 4.3% increase in the health budget, a hard crackdown on immigration numbers versus freedom of movement of the EU citizens in the UK continue to plunge the stock markets in constant volatility. But there are other domestic policies, beyond Brexit that need to be voted for.
Brexit ball still in people's court?
Brexit is an obvious battleground strategy for each party's election campaign, especially with the Brexit Party and Liberal Democrats looking to make inroads in Leave-voting and Remain-voting seats respectively.
The Conservatives want to pass the deal that Johnson has negotiated with the EU. This means that the Conservatives are rather optimistic on conducting business outside of the EU and will be looking to commonwealth countries especially India for increased trade relations and investment opportunities. The prospect of a UK-India Free Trade Agreement being negotiated under the Johnson government also looms large.
In contrast, however the Labour has put the “Brexit ball in people's court”. It has proposed to negotiate a new deal with the EU within three months of being elected. This deal will then be subject to a referendum within six months of coming to power. The referendum would not be advisory but “legally binding”. It would include a UK-wide customs union and close alignment with the single market.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are persistent to follow their policy of revoking Article 50 and cancelling Brexit if the party won a majority. Whereas, Brexit Party is pushing ahead for a no-deal Brexit on WTO terms.
Immigration debate: In our out?
Under Home Secretary Priti Patel, the Conservative will pursue with the proposal of introducing a “firmer and fairer” Australian-style points based immigration system that mandates most people to have a clear job offer before they can enter UK while capping the number of lower-skilled immigrants and the number of people coming into the country overall. They have also introduced an “NHS Visa” to fast track entry for qualified doctors, nurses and other health professionals from overseas, with a job offer from the NHS and who speak good English.
Whereas, Labour takes a different tack on the subject. It would continue with free movement of people within the EU if the UK votes to remain in a second referendum. If it chooses to leave, immigration rights would be negotiable under a deal, but the party recognises the benefits that free movement has brought. It has also proposed an end to minimum income requirements, and changes to the work visa system to make sure shortages in certain sectors are filled.
The Brexit Party has not chronicled any clear immigration policy but has emphasised on cutting down the numbers. Whereas the Liberal Democrats are focusing on altering Theresa May's “hostile environment” policies. They would protect freedom of movement with EU countries and allocate the responsibility of work permits and student visas from the Home Office and to the departments for education and business.
NHS, free social care for over 65s and 50,000 nurses?
It seems that the Conservatives have now taken a U-turn around the proposal of part-privatisation of the NHS. They have now promised a major spending boost equivalent to an extra £34bn-a-year in funding for the NHS by 2024. 6,000 extra doctors for GP surgeries will be recruited, alongside 50,000 extra nurses and 6,000 more primary care staff such as physiotherapists and pharmacists.
Labour on the other hand has offered new freebies such as annual NHS dental check ups and free hospital parking for patients, staff and visitors. Another proposal will see a new state-controlled generic drug company which would produce cheap drugs for the NHS. It has further indicated that elderly people could be forced to pay up to £100,000 to fund the costs of living in care homes. They will also roll out free “personal care” for all over 65s, where the Government will cover the costs of helping people with dressing, washing and providing meals.
The Liberal Democrats on the other hand would fund the NHS with an additional £26 billion a year above inflation by 2023-24, and pump £3bn into social care.
Work and Pension: Increase in National Living Wage, Triple lock on personal taxation continued, Universal Credit scrapped and free childcare?
Chancellor Sajid Javid has pledged to raise the current National Living Wage from the current £8.21 an hour to £10.50 in five years’ time. In a boost for pensioners, the Conservatives have also pledged to continue with the triple lock on personal taxation policy. The triple lock guarantees state pensions rise each year by either wage growth, inflation, or a 2.5 per cent increase. There will be no increase in the rates of income tax, national insurance or VAT.
Whereas, Labour has proposed to scrap the Universal Credit system as introduced by the Tories and design an alternative system. They have proposed for the public sector pay to rise by five per cent in April 2020, and above inflation every year after that to make up for the pay freeze since 2010. The party claims its 32-hour working week - to be introduced within a decade - would lead to no loss of pay due to “productivity increases.”
In the meantime, Liberal Democrats are vowing to provide free childcare to all working parents from the age of nine months and all parents from the age of two.
Teaching colonial education, but failing to apologise for anti-semitism
On Tuesday, 26th November The Labour Party also unveiled a special manifesto on race and faith, proposing that children be taught about colonialism, injustice and the British empire. It has proposed for an emancipation educational trust "to ensure historical injustice, colonialism and role of the British empire is taught in the National Curriculum".
The party's pre-election proposals are aimed at reducing the "significant inequalities in employment, education and representation in public life" faced by ethnic minority and faith-based communities. Therefore, it may launch reviews into the under-representation of minority ethnic teachers and into far-right extremism, if it wins the December 12 snap general election.
Additionally, it is proposing to establish a race equality unit in the Treasury finance ministry to review spending commitments for their impact on ethnic minority communities and tackle pay discrimination on the basis of race.
- Anti-Semitism probe -
Labour is currently being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) public body following a number of complaints about alleged anti-Semitism in the party.
The investigation is to determine whether Labour has unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish.
It will also examine whether the party has responded to those complaints in a lawful, efficient and effective manner.
In the latest development Jeremy Corbyn has refused to apologise to the British Jewish community following the chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis' election intervention from wherein the Rabbi emphasised that Britain's “moral compass” would be awry if Labour won the election because of Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism in his party. In his article Mirvis did not raise any new allegations about Corbyn or his party, but he said the Labour claim that it was doing everything it could to tackle antisemitism in the party was “a mendacious fiction”.