I don’t normally write political posts but tomorrow is the General Election and actually I am pretty excited about it. I’m not entirely sure that ‘excited’ is the right term but I am looking forward to seeing the result, one way or another.
I’ve been paying close attention (well as close as is possible with children, near full-time job etc) to the campaigning recently and have reached my own decision. I’m not entirely happy with my decision, but I have to vote so I’m making the best of it but in all honesty I have no faith in any of the current party leaders.
BBC Countryfile magazine recently ran an article where they asked the parties about their policies on some rural issues such as building on the green belt, should the hunting ban be repealed, rural broadband access, tackling bovine TB in cattle, stimulating the rural economy, improving rural transport links, approach towards HS2 and HS3 and whether development should be stopped to protect wildlife or biodiversity. All these issues are of great importance to me as I live in the countryside, and also live on the outskirts of a village which will be absolutely decimated by the arrival of HS2 over the coming years. Oh and if I am lucky I get 1mb broadband, maybe 1.5mb if the wind blows in the right direction, which is nuts. I live 20mins drive from Birmingham, not the Outer Hebrides.
Rather alarmingly, on reading the party responses I found myself agreeing with UKIP but don’t worry, my vote is definitely not going to Farage! It did however bring home to me that there was no one party that I could align myself, no party that I could fully support the policies of. Which kind of leaves me voting for personality, or rather voting against the personalities that I don’t want to see in Government, and I don’t really feel that’s right either.
Another area that really concerns me is education. Here are the parties pledges:
- Ensure a good primary school place for your child, with zero tolerance for failure.
- Turn every failing and coasting secondary school into an academy and deliver free schools for parents and communities that want them.
- Help teachers to make Britain the best country in the world for developing maths, engineering, science and computing skills.
- Create 3 million new apprenticeships and make sure there is no cap on university places, so we have aspiration for all.
- Guarantee your child a place on National Citizen Service, so they can learn new skills and meet young people from different walks of life.
- Scrap university tuition fees for undergraduates and write off outstanding student debt.
- Reverse cuts to school funding: increasing the schools’ budget by £7 billion a year.
- Invest additional money in further education, reaching £1.5 billion a year by 2019.
- Promote a comprehensive system of local schools offering mixed ability teaching, staffed by qualified teachers.
- Integrate grammar schools into the comprehensive system, and remove charitable status from private schools.
- Support a broad, balanced and enriching curriculum, including creative and vocational areas, and make sex and relationships education compulsory.
- Bring Academies and Free Schools into the local authority system and restore local authority accountability for education.
- Abolish SATS, League Tables and Ofsted and replace them with the evaluation of schools by parents, teachers and the local community.
- Introduce a new gold-standard Technical Baccalaureate for 16 to 18-year-olds.
- Protect the entire education budget from early years through to post-16 education.
- Guarantee all teachers in state schools will be qualified.
- Appoint Directors of School Standards to drive up standards in every area.
- Cap class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds.
- Ensure all young people study English and Maths to age 18.
- Reduce tuition fees to £6,000 a year.
- Invest every penny we can in education from cradle to college – nursery, school, apprenticeships and college – so all our children get the chance to live out their full potential.
- Aim to make 20 hours of free childcare a week available for all parents with children aged from 2 to 4, and all working parents from the end of paid maternity leave (9 months) to 2 years by 2020.
- Introduce a Parent Guarantee that all teachers in state funded schools will be fully qualified or working towards Qualified Teacher Status and a minimum curriculum entitlement with a slimmed-down core national curriculum, which will be taught in all state-funded schools. This will include a ‘curriculum for life’ including financial literacy, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, citizenship and age-appropriate sex and relationship education.
- Rule out profit-making schools, and only fund new mainstream schools in areas where school places are needed.
- Extend free school meals to all children in primary education, as resources allow and after a full evaluation of free meals for infants, while ensuring that school food standards apply to all schools, including academies.
- A two thirds discount bus pass for 16-21 year olds so they can afford to get to college and work.
- Develop the skilled workforce needed to support growth with major expansions of high-quality and advanced apprenticeships, offering vocational education on par with academic qualification backed up with new sector-led National Colleges.
- Expect all universities to support the national goal of widening participation across the sector. This will include running summer schools and setting up mentoring programmes between students/alumni and school pupils
- End Key Stage 1 SATs.
- Bring back grammar schools.
- Make first aid training part of the national curriculum.
- Introduce an option for students to take an Apprenticeship Qualification instead of four non-core GCSEs which can be continued at A-Level.
- Scrap the target of 50% of school leavers going to university.
- No tuition fees for British students taking approved degrees in science, medicine, technology, engineering, and maths on the condition that they live, work and pay tax in the UK for five years after the completion of their degrees.
Clear as mud, huh? If I could pick and choose a few elements from each I’d have the perfect party!
It’s a shame as if this was 4 years ago I might have opted for Lib Dem, I think they’re policies closely reflect a lot of my own beliefs but the past few years have left me feeling very meh about it all.
If you’re still not sure who to vote for ahead of Thursdays election, then check out Vote for Policies,– a website which lets you compare policies from each party in their own words, so you’re voting for policies rather than personalities. Even more confusing, based on my selections it showed me three parties policies I agreed with and apparently I agreed with none from the two parties I was considering!
Have you decided which way you’re voting yet?