‘Nightmare before Christmas’ election is ON

They’re off: Boris Johnson is to hold Britain’s first December election in almost 100 years. © Tutu

Who will win Britain’s most crucial vote in 50 years? Leave or Remain? Capitalism or socialism? People or Parliament? The choices facing voters have scarcely ever been more sharply divided.

There’s nothing like a Christmas election for inspiring terrible puns.

“Jingle Polls!” blares Metro this morning, noting that it is the first Christmas ballot since 1923.

“It’s Time To Stuff The Turkey,” yells The Daily Mirror, referring to the election that gives voters a chance to get rid of Boris Johnson.

“New Year’s Leave,” proclaims The Sun — meaning that if Johnson wins the election, he could get Brexit done by 1 January.

MPs voted overwhelmingly last night to end the Brexit paralysis at Westminster and put the issue back to the people, setting a general election for 12 December. Johnson’s plan to hold a pre-Christmas election was approved by an overwhelming 438 votes to 20.

But behind the merriment, nearly all experts agree, lies a deadly serious point.

Britain’s next general election, they say, will be the most important decision facing voters since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, if not in the entire post-war era.

The result will not only determine the direction of Brexit, or if Brexit happens at all, but also whether Britain is taken over by the most radical Labour Party in its history.

This election could decide Britain’s long-term trade, political and security relationship with Europe, and the future of the union between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A victory for the Labour Party could lead to a wholesale shift towards state intervention in the economy and away from the UK’s long-standing defence and security relationship with the US.

Who will win? There are five main questions:

Could Nigel Farage damage the Conservatives? He will argue that Johnson has failed to meet his pledge to take Britain out of the EU on 31 October — and that the Brexit Party’s unqualified commitment to leaving without a deal is the only option.

Can the Tories take seats in Labour’s heartlands? To have any chance of winning, Johnson must win seats in the traditional Labour-voting areas of the Midlands and north of England — many of which voted Leave in the referendum.

Will Remain voters desert Labour? The Lib Dems have a clear message on Brexit: if they win, they will keep Britain in the EU. Labour’s position is far more complicated. It will agree a new Brexit deal, hold a referendum and then decide whether or not to remain in the EU.

Will the election be about Brexit or domestic policy? Johnson wants it to be about Brexit. Corbyn wants it to be about the state of public services. His catchphrase is that he is promoting “real change” rather than just focusing on Brexit.

Finally, is a Christmas election a voters’ nightmare? Many MPs believe it is risky to hold a poll so close to the holidays. “When someone opens the front door to a stranger in December, they expect to be sung a carol, not asked how they are going to vote. A government that is seen as provoking a season of ill-will is unlikely to be viewed affectionately by the general public,” says one.

So, in short, who will win?

Bojo or Jezza?

“It’s possible this is the moment Boris Johnson threw Brexit away,” one former Conservative minister said yesterday. “I think we will end up with another hung Parliament.”

“Most of us are up for it,” said Gary Streeter, a veteran Tory MP and former whip. “I think we’ll lose 20 and gain 60.” But it is an election that could be decided by very fine margins.

You Decide

  1. “Politics will ruin my Christmas — just imagine the arguments!” Do you agree?
  2. Do people vote for personalities or ideas?

Activities

  1. Imagine you are the leader of one of our main political parties. Your first act today is to commission a new election poster for every bus stop in Britain. Create a sketch for that poster that you will hand over to an artist to finish off.
  2. Hold a mini general election in your class. Get volunteers to make a short speech for each of the main parties. Then hold a vote and see who wins.

Some People Say...

“No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition.”

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), former Prime Minister

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
As Britain prepares for a December general election, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is enjoying a clear lead in the polls; meanwhile, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has the worst personal ratings of any opposition leader in history, according to some surveys.
What do we not know?
What the outcome of the election will be. Johnson and the Conservatives are under threat from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, while Corbyn and Labour risk losing votes to the resurgent Liberal Democrats, who want to remain in the EU.

Word Watch

Ballot
A system of voting secretly on a particular issue.
Radical
A person who advocates complete political or social change, or a member of a political party that wants the same thing.
Referendum
The vote that took place on 23 June 2016 in the UK to ask the country whether it should remain a member of, or leave, the European Union.
EU
The European Union is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined population of about 513 million.
Public services
A service which is provided by government to the people, such as education, the NHS or the police.
Hung Parliament
A Parliament in which no political party has enough seats to secure an overall majority.

Subjects

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