Election 2019: You’ve Got Election Questions? We’ve Got Answers…

With just days to go until this month’s general election – and 1 in 4 women yet to decide who they’ll back – Gaby Hinsliff helps you work out how to use your vote.

A woman approaches a polling station

by Gaby Hinsliff |
Updated on

It’s official; the countdown has started. Just as you know it’s nearly Christmas when every coffee shop starts playing Mariah Carey on a loop, manifestos and televised leaders’ debates are your cue to get engaged with the coming general election. And if you still don’t know who to vote for on 12 December, then relax; this stage of the campaign is all about people like you.

Women normally make up their minds closer to polling day than men and, this time, according to the pollsters YouGov, one in four of us are still undecided. That’s not surprising when so many are torn between different priorities, or unconvinced by promises that sound too good to be true. But all the main parties know this election could be won or lost depending on which way the ‘don’t knows’ fall.

And this time it really matters. This election could decide not just the size of your future childcare bill or your chances of buying a flat, but whether Brexit actually happens or whether we stop global warming in time. Got questions? We’ve got answers...

What could this election do for women at work?

Labour claims it could close the equal pay gap by 2030 by ensuring the law is actually enforced, while making firms disclose pay gaps for BAME people too; they’d also make it harder to sack pregnant women, and offer 10 days’ paid leave for domestic violence survivors (to cover moving into a refuge, for example). The Tories want to boost flexible working, making it the norm to offer part-time hours, job-shares or home-working unless there’s good reason not to; the Liberal Democrats promise the right to request flexible working from day one in a new job.

OK, but my biggest headache is my dodgy landlord...

Labour would cap rents so they couldn’t rise above inflation, and inspect rental properties yearly so they’re fit to live in. Both Labour and the Tories would make renting more secure by ending ‘no fault’ evictions (where the tenant has done nothing wrong); the Lib Dems want compulsory licencing for landlords. All the main parties say they would build more affordable homes for sale and rent.

Help, nursery fees are crippling me...

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, wants to plug the gap between maternity leave ending and free toddler nursery places starting; babies whose parents work would get 35 hours’ free childcare a week from nine months old through to age four (or from age two to four if parents aren’t working). The Tories would introduce more holiday and after-school childcare, Labour a year’s paid maternity leave, and both promise free nursery places for two-year- olds; the SNP, meanwhile, want three months’ leave for new fathers.

What about Brexit?

Boris Johnson says he’d ‘get Brexit done’ by leaving the EU on 31 January and then sorting out details of how we’d trade with them by December 2020 (although experts think that could take years). Jeremy Corbyn says he’d seek a better Brexit deal, then have a referendum on that deal versus staying in the EU, but won’t personally back either Leave or Remain. The Lib Dems would stop Brexit outright in the (unlikely) event they won, or else, like the Greens, fight for Remain in a second referendum.

I’m more worried about the planet...

Climate change has shot way up political agendas thanks to Extinction Rebellion protests and the school strikes led by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. The Greens would spend £100 billion effectively making Britain carbon-neutral by 2030 (other parties would take longer to hit this target). Labour is promising electric car sharing clubs, the Tories a new fund to keep plastic out of the oceans, and the Lib Dems a ‘frequent flyer’ tax to protect the planet.

I don’t trust politicians – how can I tell if someone’s lying?

Listen hard to what they don’t say as well as what they do (can they answer straight questions?). If there’s a controversial issue you really care about, from anti-Semitism to trans rights to Universal Credit, google the manifestos or email local candidates (via their website or Facebook page) to ask where they stand. Remember: politicians aren’t the only ones peddling fake news – don’t believe everything shared on social media, and use fact-checking sites like fullfact.org, or bbc.co.uk/realitycheck.

What’s tactical voting and should I do it?

It’s treating your enemy’s enemy as your friend; so if the only thing you’re sure of is which party you don’t want in power, you could just back whichever party is most likely to stop them winning. For voting tactically to stop Brexit, plug your postcode into a tactical voting site like getvoting.org or remainunited.org to get recommendations for your area.

I’m Scottish: could this election ultimately lead to Scotland leaving the UK?

Maybe, if we get a hung Parliament (meaning nobody’s won enough seats to govern alone) and Labour need the support of the pro-independence SNP to govern. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon says she’d want another Scottish referendum in return.

Read More: The Labour Party 2019 Election Manifesto – What Are They Offering Women?

Read More: The Liberal Democrats 2019 Election Manifesto – What Are They Offering Women?

Read More: The Conservative Party 2019 Election Manifesto – What Are They Offering Women?

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