General election recap: week ending 12/04

By Siva Thangarajahpoll

The week started off with Tony Blair making a short-term return to politics as he gave a rousing speech on behalf of the Labour party. He largely focused on dissecting the Tories’ plans to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership and backing up Ed Miliband’s decision not to hold one. He accused Cameron of pandering to the far right, namely the UKIP voter base, and warned of the inevitable instability regarding our international reputation and economy if the UK leaves the EU. He also addressed the unavoidable issue of immigration, stating that nationalism ‘in the hand of UKIP is almost always ugly’.

Undoubtedly Blair, the record-holding three-time election winner, was brought in as an attempt to inject a bit of energy and enthusiasm into the campaign. He ended by showing support for Ed Miliband, whose capability as a leader has been questioned by people within the party, stating that he wants ‘Labour, under Ed’s leadership, to be the Government of our country’.

Cameron shot back by claiming Blair was ‘ignoring the will of the people’ and stated that if the electorate choose to stay on in the EU, he will renegotiate the UK’s current terms to get a better deal.

Meanwhile, the parties are using the NHS as their chosen battleground of the week, with Labour claiming that out-of-hours medical consultations have fallen starkly under the current government. Both parties of the coalition have of course dismissed the Labour attack as unreliable and using out-of-date statistics. The Conservatives have also hit back saying that they are prepared to give ‘whatever’ it needs to fill the current funding gap, which could amount to around £8 billion.

non-domicile tax status enables UK residents to limit the amount of tax they have to pay on money made abroad

Things did not go according to Labour’s plan on Wednesday as they announced their plans to abolish non-domicile tax status, which enables UK residents to limit the amount of tax they have to pay on money made abroad. Meant to be a major keynote announcement regarding Labour policies, it soon became mired in confusion.  This is because Ed Balls has said previously that he would like to see stricter rules regarding non-dom tax exemption, but that it shouldn’t be wholly abolished. The Conservatives were quick to capitalize on this confusion, with David Cameron pointing out the apparent disorganisation of the Labour party.

On Thursday night, the Scottish leaders of the parties took part in a televised debate. They largely clashed over budget cuts, with the Scottish Labour leader calling the coalition a ‘failed austerity experiment’ and Nicola Sturgeon advocating spending increases. Other topics included the future of Scotland’s financing and the instability of Scotland’s oil industry.

On Friday, the Labour party leaders took to Edinburgh to appeal to the Scottish electorate, half of whom now support the SNP. They largely warned of the SNP’s plans to grant Scotland fiscal autonomy, which according to Miliband would leave a £7.6 billion deficit in the nation’s finances.

In other news, parties keep unveiling new, people-friendly pledges, such as Cameron’s announcement for companies to allow three paid days of volunteer work for workers and the Lib-Dem’s plan to help young people borrow £2,000 from the government to pay for a housing deposit. Criticism is being raised around how they plan to fund these pledges, especially alongside reducing the deficit. Overall, polls are stagnating, with Labour and Conservative still drawing ahead on national polls (but nowhere near enough to win a majority), UKIP running third, and the SNP surging ahead in Scotland with nearly half the electorate behind them.

Photograph: Wikipedia 

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