Tag Archives: Brexit

GENERAL ELECTION 2019: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN AND HOW?

By Tobias Chalcraft

Tomorrow the country, and Plymouth, will vote in its third general election in four years, to elect a new parliament. With Brexit, the environment and the state of our union high on the national agenda, this election will be the most important vote in decades. For those that aren’t as politically active as this writer, Generation Plymouth is here to help provide some clarity on everything you should know before the big day tomorrow.

WHO CAN I VOTE FOR?

Plymouth enjoys three constituencies, with the city centre coming within the Plymouth Sutton & Devonport constituency and other parts of the city being represented by Plymouth Moor View and South West Devon. For a list of candidates standing in your area, head to this BBC website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50459517. Be sure to look up these candidates to get a good idea of their individual manifestos.

With many parties standing aside in favour of those with similar Brexit stances, Plymouth Sutton & Devonport is rare in the fact that the Brexit, Conservative & Unionist, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties are all competing here for your vote. 

If you are unsure which party you should support, head to https://voteforpolicies.org.uk for a brilliant unbiased survey which tells you which party you should vote for, based on your individual policy preferences.

However, if you feel unable to vote for any of the options on your ballot paper, it is better to spoil your ballot paper than not vote at all. You can spoil your ballot by leaving it blank or writing ‘none of the above’ at the bottom of the paper. These spoiled ballots appear on national statistics and inform all of the main political parties the levels of dissatisfaction with their policies. Note: If you want to spoil your ballot do not draw inappropriate images within a single box next to a candidate’s name, as this may still be counted

WHERE DO I VOTE?

Multiple schools, church halls and even some pubs across the country will temporarily convert themselves into a polling station for voters to cast their ballot. Please note you must be over 18, and registered, in order to vote. 

Not sure where your polling station is? Check out https://wheredoivote.co.uk to find out where you can vote. You may be in for a surprise – you could be voting in your old primary school or local pub. 

WHEN ARE POLLING STATIONS OPEN?

Polls are open from 7am to 10pm. However, if something arises and you find yourself unable to get to a polling station (and you’ve not registered a proxy or postal vote), you can register for an emergency proxy vote before 5pm on polling day. For more information, head to https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/voting-person-post-or-proxy/voting-proxy.

Don’t let anything stop you from voting – this will have a big impact on your life, and you might not have this chance again for up to five years!

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

At 10pm, an ‘Exit Poll’ will be released – this is an estimate of the result, judging by voter feedback throughout the day. This poll is often accurate, so it will be worth checking out before you go to bed, if you want some idea of the results without staying up all night.  

Following the Exit Poll, results will steadily come in throughout the night. If you are a politics geek like me, and plan to stay up all night, the most intense results will start coming through after 2am. So, the best time to nap will be 11pm-1am, although it will be nearly impossible with all the hype caused by the Exit Poll.

Pending on the results, Friday won’t offer much respite as plenty of political drama could splash the headlines, as party leaders may resign their position following poor results. There is also a moderate risk that some key figures could lose their seat – which will also pour oil onto the flames of political drama.

HOW WILL MY VOTE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

With many seats not changing hands, and following years of political deadlock, some of you may feel that your vote won’t make a difference. However, we in Plymouth are lucky in that our seat is fairly marginal – with the Conservatives and Labour working hard to win this seat. This means that your vote could make the difference between either side winning.

Also, this election seems to be following the 2017 trend of tactical voting, as those on both sides of the Brexit argument are voting for the more likely to win candidate that backs their view on Europe. This election is a deciding moment for the UK’s relationship with Europe, so perhaps it is time to apply your vote to a different party that ensures your preferred Brexit outcome.   

Even if you don’t care about politics – there other incentives, with BrewDog offering a free drink to voters who have taken a selfie outside their local polling station. You can find your local Brewdog bar here: https://www.brewdog.com/bars/uk.

Happy voting!

General Election 2019: In Conversation with: Rebecca Smith

By Tobias Chalcraft

The Prime Minister has finally achieved his desired General Election, in an attempt to break this Brexit deadlock. Thursday 12th December will be our third national election in four years and political commenters will be glancing at Plymouth, a marginal city which has elected both Conservative and Labour MPs in the last two public ballots, as a potential indication of who will lead our next government. On the night of the dissolution of the 2017-2019 parliament, Generation Plymouth interviewed Rebecca Smith – the Conserative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport.

As bonfire night fireworks went off in the sky, we picked up some festive-themed coffees and started to ask Rebecca some pressing questions.

“If you were elected as MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, what would be your top three priorities?”

Rebecca highlights the NHS, Schools and Business as the backbone of her election campaign. She says that through canvassing she has found the NHS to be the issue most discussed amongst voters in Plymouth. Meanwhile, she would like to see further funding for Plymouth’s secondary schools – especially SEN and for students with Pupil Premium. Although proud of her Conservative values, Smith says that she would not seek to be a ‘Conservative mouthpiece’ because she hopes to press on issues that may not always grab the headlines in order to be a “voice for the voiceless”, on behalf of an often “forgotten city”.

“How would you, and potential Conservative government, champion Plymouth’s young people?”

The main theme in her response is the benefit of Plymouth having a young MP in parliament. After showing some respect to the statesmanship and parliamentary experience of Sir Gary Streeter ( MP for South West Devon), Rebecca argues that she could communicate with Plymouth’s youth at a more suitable level through creative events. For example, her Pizza and Policy nights have been invaluable for offering a space for young Plymothians, who aren’t necessarily politically active, to express their opinions on current affairs. It is these sorts of creative events that she would hope to host in future to gain a good understanding of what young people wish to see.

“My big thing is that I hate talking at people, I think politicians do that really quickly, they’ll go in and tell you what they think you want to hear”. Rebecca separates herself from our current political class by arguing that she would spend more time listening than telling constituents what they may want to hear in order to gain support.

There was also some rare frankness in her answer: “I’m not going to be a people pleaser”, she says, as she argues that its unrealistic for MPs to represent every single voice within their constituencies, but Rebecca goes on to say, “I will definitely make sure that I listen, engage and seek out opinions and views”.

As an MP, Rebecca hopes to prove that the Conservatives are better than they are portrayed to be on social media, arguing that today’s world sees people following too many like-minded politicians in order to create echo chambers and that she would seek to combat this by reaching out to people from across the political spectrum to display some of the positives of Conservative policies.

“Today [5th November] Parliament is dissolving, and it looks as though 1 in 10 MPs won’t be seeking re-election, with a substantial portion of those departing only having less than 10 years’ experience, like Heidi Allen, Justine Greening and Secretary of State Nicky Morgan. What is your reaction to this outcome of the 2017-2019 parliament?”

Rebecca starts with, “I think it’s really sad because they have all been excellent public servants and they’ve brought a real breadth of knowledge, interest and expertise”, however she goes on to dismiss the generalisation of these MPs’ motivations such as social media abuse or gender – arguing that there are a multitude of reasons for why MPs have chosen to stand down. Rebecca says she was unsurprised that MPs that sought to make a real change, but had become hindered by Brexit, had become disillusioned. Although, she hopes the 2019 election may allow for a clean slate of fresh MPs, like herself, to improve parliament’s public image at a time of significant dissatisfaction in our democratic institutions.

When asked how these resignations have affected her decision to run in this election, Rebecca responds with “I’m going in with my eyes open”, as she outlines her previous experiences in politics as providing some expectations as to what being an MP may entail. Rebecca adds, “Politics isn’t perfect, but it’s what I think my vocation is”, before she lists the different measures she has put into place to help guarantee her safety throughout this election campaign such as sharing her schedule with a strong support network and having colleagues attend events alongside her.

“With Plymouth University declaring a Climate Emergency and Plymouth’s Youth going on strike, do you think the Government has done enough to combat Climate Change?”

Rebecca spent longer answering this question than any other, reflecting on her envioronmentally focused work such as her environment-based speech at the Conservative Party Conference this year, or working as a Councillor on Plymouth City Council, in which she has frequently promoted the government’s work when speaking in climate debates and played a significant role in the Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency earlier this year. She then goes on to offer some praise for climate campaigners, arguing that they have a “brilliant part to play”.

Rebecca points out the government’s recent decision to pause fracking as a key example of the government’s environmental credentials and offers the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) credit with their successful lobbying efforts. She is hopeful that this ban will be long term, saying that the government wouldn’t resume an activity that brings negative outcomes to their country. If elected, Rebecca hopes to be a mediator between Plymouth’s environmentally engaged young people and the government, whilst also being held to account on any eco-friendly legislation she votes on.

She then displays frustration at negative responses by media outlets: “one of the most frustrating things as a politician is where you take action and the first reaction is ‘it’s not good enough’”. She believes that change can’t be taken overnight and that the realistic steps that are required to make a positive change for our planet should be acknowledged. On the other hand, Rebecca contends the Extinction Rebellion protests in London as potentially diluting the green message, as they frustrate London commuters which may then lower public perception as a result. Plus, further resentment is displayed for the resources used to keep the London demonstrations organised, such as the use of Devon & Cornwall police in the capital instead of the counties they are designated for.

“Do you support Boris Johnson’s revised Brexit deal? How would it deliver for our City?”

Rebecca supports this deal as a way of delivering on Plymouth’s vote to leave in 2016, saying that MPs should be in-touch with their constituency’s views and that, with a Conservative majority in Parliament, this deal would be easily passed before January 2020, followed by a transition period for an undefined period of time.

She argues that Brexit will reduce the impact of some failing European economies on Plymouth and that she would rather “weather the storm of Brexit than face the climate change of a Corbyn economy”. Though, she compares those with a primary preference of a ‘clean break’ Brexit to somebody getting a divorce and expecting their former spouse to walk away with none of their property or belongings.

Having voted to Remain three years ago, if another referendum was to be called, Rebecca would now vote to Leave – claiming that if Remain had won in 2016, remainers would not have been treated in the contempt endured by those who supported leaving the trading bloc three years ago.

She concludes her response with “the bottom line is that we have to leave”.

We concluded this interview by asking a similar question to one we asked Johnny Mercer (Candidate for Plymouth Moor View) way before this election campaign:

“If you were elected, would you see yourself more as a Conservative MP or the MP for Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport?”

Initially, Rebecca outlines her pride in Plymouth, “Plymouth has always been my home. I was inspired by Nancy Astor – the first female MP – when I was a student, and the dream would be to serve in my home seat.”. She then returns to the reality of Westminster politics, “I would also be elected as the Conservative candidate and so there’s a balance to be made”.

She concludes by saying “my passion for politics and my passion for Plymouth connect. I would be the Conservative MP for Plymouth”. Her aim is to be driven by “tackling social issues and caring for the most vulnerable, whilst also promoting the economy, seeing business thrive and seeing people living fulfilled lives”, adding “It’s all about the people of Plymouth in the end”.