LONDON - MAY 06: A woman leaves a polling station on Brick Lane after casting her vote on May 6, 2010 in London, United Kingdom. After 5 weeks of campaigning, including the first ever live televised Leader’s Debates, opinion polls suggest that the UK is facing the prospect of a hung parliament for the first time since 1974. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Ten Reasons to Vote
The election campaign is coming to an end, and it’s time to mark your ballot. We’ve put together ten big issues which can be changed by the next government, depending on who we vote for.
But first the practicalities…
If you’ve registered to vote (yes, if you’re reading this, it’s too late now), then you can go to your polling station on Thursday 7th of May between 7am and 10pm. Your polling station is written on your polling card, which you should have received in the post. If you didn’t get one, or lost your card, don’t worry: you don’t need the card, and you can find the nearest station here.
1. It’s the slowest recovery since records began
The government claims that its economic strategy has been vindicated by a “strong” return to economic growth. We looked into it, and found that it was an incredibly slow recovery. Then we discovered that it’s actually THE slowest recovery since records began. And even worse, it’s gotten slower since then.
2. NHS cuts and reforms are failing patients
The NHS is a prized institution – and rightly so. But it’s clearly under threat, and your vote will set its course for the coming years. The TUC’s Matt Dykes looked at five key indicators of patient care to show how badly government reforms and cuts have failed NHS patients.
3. One charity’s food banks were used over a million times in the last year
If the recovery really was for everyone, then fewer people would rely on food banks. But instead more and more are. Of the million uses of Trussell Trust food banks in the last year, 400,000 were to feed children. Here’s how different regions across the UK are using food banks.
4. 700,000 people are on zero-hours contracts
If you’re on a zero-hours contract, you’ll earn on average £300 less a week than a permanent worker. You won’t know your hours or your pay in advance, making budgeting impossible. 40% of such workers have no entitlement to paid sick leave. This has to end. Read more on the zero-hours scandal here.
5. Deficit-reducing austerity has failed on its own terms
The cuts were introduced to reduce the deficit massively. A fixation on the deficit is unhealthy, but even if you make it your primary measure of success – austerity hasn’t worked. The deficit hasn’t been reduced by anywhere near what they predicted. Read more about how this crusade has failed, and how ordinary people have been hurt.
6. The NHS is being privatised
A defining feature of the NHS is that it’s in public hands. Owned by us, run by us, for us. But the government has increasingly pushed NHS services out to private companies. They deny that this is happening, but the evidence is clear.
7. Benefits delayed by five weeks
If you lose your job, your income stops suddenly. When that happens, you and your family will need some help – just to cover the basics – until you find a new job. The government wants people to wait for five weeks before they can claim any benefits. That’s more time than many can afford. The current, shorter benefit delays are already driving people to food banks – the problem will only get worse with a five week wait.
8. Britain needs affordable housing
If you’re reading this and renting in the UK (particularly London), then you don’t need to be told just how expensive housing is. The same goes for people who are trying to buy. This is because of political choices made by governments – and it can be changed. Read more on the problem here.
9. The Growing Pay Gap
Top bosses’ real pay is up 26%. Average workers’ real pay is down 8%. It’s a stark and clear illustration of who this “recovery” is benefiting, and who is really suffering under austerity. Read more in the Mirror about the pay gap.
10. Union rights under attack
Throughout history, workers have been able to improve their conditions by simply standing together. United we stand, divided we fall. The government is threatened by this, and wants to restrict trade union rights. They want to weaken us by changing salary systems, gag us with the Lobbying Act, and smash the right to strike with impossible balloting rules. Read more on the proposals here.
It’s simple. Get out and vote. Make sure your friends, family, and colleagues do too.