Election Issues: Education or Climate Change?
Its interesting looking at your average campaigner-type’s priorities for a General Election and comparing them to the issues that “normal” people worry about. By “campaigner-type”, I suspect I’m being biased towards those campaigning on global issues, but its a big area of difference between the issues political parties are dealing with and the campaigns some of us devote most of our time to.
Even within the discussion of health care or education, rarely does a campaigner actually get invited on a protest to build a stronger NHS or Education System. Many of us focus on issues like the Climate, Global Poverty, the role of corporations in shaping the world around us, War and Weapons, or the treatment of individuals when they come into contact with the law or state.
I don’t want to get into a debate about which issues are more important; in a sense, they’re of equal importance, each representing some aspect of human experience that creates the whole picture. A holistic politics is not just necessary for understanding the underlying systemic problems, but also for understanding the individual issues as well.
But what I’m finding difficult is the way people keep citing Labour’s failures on this or that. I hope right now that anyone considering either not voting or voting in a way that favours the Tories will think twice as a result of the vulture fund bill, but more importantly, look at the biggest issues by government spending. After defence, which rightfully consumes many hours of campaigning, there are health, education and law enforcement. These are some of the biggest issues on the minds of ‘normal’ voters. They are also issues on which the views of political parties matter.
A leaflet for the local Green Party candidate arrived recently. I read it, despite having made my mind up already. What struck me was how, at the simplest level, their agenda was out of touch. If the Greens’ formed the next government (I know this is a bit of pointless wondering, bare with me), what would be their policies on health and education? Or law enforcement? Or would they let both health and education go into freefall from their positions on the agenda, and instead just make laws on the environment and social justice. I figure they’d be strong on welfare, but I’m really not certain.
If these are the Greens’ weaknesses, they are the problem facing many of my fellow activists, and myself. I normally spend my days talking about Climate issues, Global poverty being a close, and highly connected, second. But as I’ve set myself the challenge of spending 6 days on Labour Doorstepping before the election, I need to get my head around this whole “normal people’s priorities” thing. That isn’t to say that Development and the Environment aren’t important to how I vote, but they’re not what convinces other people to get out and vote. And besides, even if I don’t do much about them, a free NHS is massively important to me (I would be lying if I said I did nothing – #welovethenhs and all that).
So what draws me to Labour: the fact that Labour have thus far, given the climate they were working in, made under 18 education in Britain vastly better, that they have cut waiting lists in almost all areas of the NHS and are actually committed to keeping it free at the point of delivery, the commitment to Development Spending at 0.7% GDP, and the decision to close the Ministry of Defence’s office for selling arms to foreign despots. These are some great reasons to vote Labour.