An Idiot’s Guide to the General Election

[Kat Clements |Contributing Writer]

Let’s face it; politics isn’t always the most interesting subject. Luckily, UniVerse is here to tell you what you need to know.

What’s a General Election?

Let’s start with the basics.

The UK holds a general election once every four years. All UK citizens over the age of 18 are entitled to vote in their constituency (the district where you live – and, fyi, students can vote in the constituency where their uni is as well if they want), for the candidates who are standing for MP for that constituency. The UK operates a first-past-the-post system, where the party who has the most MPs gets to elect a prime minister (almost always the leader of their party).

Who are the main parties? Who am I voting for?

There are a lot of political parties in the UK. Depending on where you live, you might not be able to vote for all of them, but here are the big five.

 

  • Conservatives

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AKA the Tories. The Conservatives have been one of the two parties in charge for the last five years.

Party leader: David Cameron (current PM).

Policies: The Tory party have been heavily focussed on the economy. Key points in their manifesto include extending the right-to-buy (where tenants renting houses for a certain number of years can buy them outright) and reducing the deficit as well as creating more jobs by supporting small businesses.

 

  • Labour

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Labour have been in opposition for the last five years. Before that they led the government with Gordon Brown.

Party leader: Ed Miliband

Policies: Labour’s manifesto emphasises the party’s status as the champion of the working class. Key proposals include cutting university tuition fees to £6000 per year. Labour also promise that their manifesto requires no additional borrowing and their budget will cut the national deficit.

  • Lib Dems

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AKA Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems have been in the coalition government with the Tories for five years.

Party leader: Nick Clegg (deputy PM).

Policies: The Lib Dems plan to increase income tax cuts for low and middle earners, and promote apprenticeships to create jobs and support small businesses.

  • UKIP

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AKA UK Independence Party. UKIP are relative newcomers but are doing well in the polls and have won several European Parliament seats.

Party leader: Nigel Farage.

Policies: UKIP are pushing for an exit from the European Union, an end to EU law and regulation, and tighter curbs on immigration.

  • Green Party

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Also newcomers, the Green Party have only one MP but a recent surge in support has allowed them to stand candidates in almost all constituencies.

Party Leader: Natalie Bennett.

Policies: The Green Party believes that tackling environmental issues like climate change is the way to deal with economic issues. A key policy is increasing the number of homes with insulation.

 

The general election is on May 7th. If you’re not already registered to vote, you can do so at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. More information on all of the parties can be found on their websites:

www.labour.org.uk

www.libdems.org.uk

www.greenparty.org.uk

www.conservatives.com

www.ukip.org

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An Idiot’s Guide to the General Election