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U.K. Parliament dissolves, election campaign drama gets underway

LONDON — Britain’s Parliament was dissolved Thursday, which is less cinematic than it sounds. This means that all lawmakers in the House of Commons have lost their seats and must now face voters, some with fear. The election will take place on July 4.

So the race has begun, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party promising “security” and Keir Starmer’s Labor Party selling “change”, the non-threatening kind.

Labor is up 20 percent in opinion polls, which could portend a return of center-left soft socialism after 14 years of center-right conservative rule. There is some debate about the “socialism” part.

Here’s the election drama so far:

Unlike the United States, this is not a rematch

This is not a repeat of the last British general election, in 2019, where a cheerful Boris Johnson ousted an unpopular Jeremy Corbyn under the banner “Get Brexit Done”.

Most politicians – on both sides – now avoid the B-word.

Five years ago, Johnson won in a landslide. The working class “red wall” in the north of England collapsed as lifelong Labor voters fled to the Conservatives.

Then came the pandemic, anti-lockdown parties at 10 Downing Street and a recession.

Today? Johnson is out. He was expelled by his own lawmakers for his role in a series of scandals. The former prime minister says his schedule is full and he will have little time to campaign for the Conservatives. He gives paid speeches. Overseas.

Corbyn is still around, but was suspended from the Labor Party in 2020 for his response to a report into anti-Semitism within the party. He will stand as an independent for his old seat in north London.

Rainy days, sinking ships and exit signs

Sunak has already stumbled a bit during the launch of his campaign. He announced early elections would be held in pouring rain outside Downing Street. The headlines couldn’t resist: “Things are only going to get wetter.” » Starmer joked that a man standing in the rain without an umbrella is a man without a plan.

Afterwards, Sunak huddled with political journalists under a sign reading “EXIT”.

Then he campaigned on the site of the Belfast shipyard which built the Titanic.

Labor plays it safe

Starmer delivered his first full campaign speech on Thursday, saying voters can trust him on “economic security, border security and national security”.

Earlier, the Labor leader criticized Sunak for “digging through the toy box of bad ideas and putting one on the table every day, without funding or cost”.

For his part, Starmer appears to be playing it safe – neither big nor bold – by sticking to Labour’s vague, safe and vague “first steps” if he wins.

These steps: ensuring economic stability; reduce waiting times for appointments at the National Health Service; crack down on “anti-social behavior” by deploying more police; create a predominantly green public energy company; and recruit new teachers in key subjects.

The Economist magazine said voters were faced with a choice between “incompetence or opacity”.

Sunak tries to narrow the gap with new policies

Sunak has little to show after a year and a half as prime minister. He says he has helped families with paid leave during the pandemic. But two of his flagship initiatives – deportation flights to Rwanda and “smoke-free generation” legislation – are on hold until after the vote. And yet Sunak has floated big ideas for his next administration, surprising some of his own (former) ministers.

He proposed that every 18-year-old complete a year of compulsory military training or monthly weekends of civic service. He said it would “keep children out of trouble,” boost morale and provide fresh troops to face a dangerous world.

Gen Z responded with clever memes.

He also promised to create 100,000 high-skilled apprenticeships a year by removing subsidies for “fraudulent” university degrees that do not lead to a career.

“Not everyone has to go to university, and that’s an obvious choice in this election, as the Labor Party still clings to the idea that the only way to succeed in life is going to university,” Sunak said. “It’s just not right.”

When asked to name a Mickey Mouse diploma he would mint, Sunak refused.

Competing for Westminster or Wembley?

Britain’s political press had a field day when it was briefed by anonymous Tory sources who called the 61-year-old Labor leader “sleepy,” taking a leaf out of Trump’s playbook.

This was not very successful. A senior Labor figure, Wes Streeting, joked that upcoming televised debates between the two candidates should be replaced by a football challenge.

Sunak, 44, attempted to dribble a ball at a recent campaign event. He didn’t excel.

Starmer, 61, regularly plays five-a-side football.

Age is expected to be an important indicator of voting behavior, with younger people choosing Labor and retirees opting for the Conservatives. But Labor is also the most popular party among all age groups under 70.

The place of immigration in

The Conservatives are worried about their older voters moving to Reform UK, a right-wing populist party, officially called the Brexit Party. Reform comes third in the poll averages – with a substantial 11 percent (Labour is on 45 percent; the Conservatives are on 24 percent).

Founder Nigel Farage is now honorary president of the party. He is not standing in this election and has never won a seat in Westminster. But it helps to support reformist candidates in the electoral campaign. On Thursday, Farage and party leader Richard Tice announced tough new immigration policies, to fight, as Tice put it, Britain’s “deadly dependence” on the “hand of “cheap foreign work”.

Britain left the European Union in part to “regain control” of its borders. But while the issue of immigration remains a major concern for Conservative voters, British voters as a whole are more concerned about the National Health Service and the cost of living crisis.

Sunak’s plan to ship migrants arriving by boat across the English Channel to Rwanda will not come to fruition until July – if it ever comes to fruition. Labor calls the policy inhumane and wasteful and promises to scrap it.

Top conservatives step down

We won’t know until June 7 the names of all the candidates who have qualified to run for a seat in the House of Commons, but we do know that a large number of lawmakers – 134 so far – have decided to ‘Stop. . Most of those fleeing front-line political work are conservatives. Former Prime Minister Theresa May, dejected by Brexit, will be gone but not forgotten, alongside notable Tories such as former Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and current Leveling Secretary Michael Gove.

Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative peer in the House of Lords, caused a stir when he posted on: “The hope is that when Sunak disappears to California in a few weeks, there will be at least a few decent MPs left to rebuild around.”

Sunak, who met his wife at Stanford University, ran hedge funds in California and owns a penthouse in Santa Monica, was forced to respond: “That’s simply not true. I mean, that’s just not true.

If his party loses the general election, but he is re-elected to Parliament as a lawmaker, Sunak has promised he will serve.



News Source : www.washingtonpost.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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