This election campaign has been characterised as much by what has not been discussed as by what has. Here’s a quick run-through of some of the issues we think should have been discussed but have been kept off the agenda.

Gaza

Considering that hundreds of thousands are still marching regularly this has not surfaced. Whilst it is true that a genocide taking place halfway around the globe is not the primary consideration of most British voters, it says something about us that it is not dominating the election.

Cost of living

Yes, the cost of living crisis has been mentioned. But if there has been an analysis beyond blaming the other lot we have not seen it. If we cannot think about what causes rising costs, then we are doomed to keep on making the same mistakes.

The environment

Even the Greens barely mentioned this. It was not long ago we were told that it was a climate emergency. We had to take serious action or face dire consequences. As far as we can tell since then things have only got worse. And yet, at a general election the words ‘climate emergency’ were almost totally absent. Almost certainly because no politician wants to admit the truth. To do anything about the climate emergency would involve changes in lifestyles that far too many people are not prepared to make for the benefit of future generations.

Unemployment

It wasn’t that long ago that unemployment was considered the scourge of society. Now it is accepted or ignored. Not least because the way that unemployment is counted has been changed so many times it is meaningless. Norman Tebbit, Conservative Minister in the Thatcher government famously said that no government could survive one million unemployed. The UK currently has 1.5 million unemployed and nobody thinks that worth mentioning.

Knife crime

Since 2019 the number of deaths as a result of knife crime is over 1,000. 78 young people under 25 died as a result of knife crime last year, of which 10 were under 16. Nobody is discussing this because politicians realise that all they have is meaningless platitudes. The reality is our streets are becoming more dangerous, especially for the young. The answer lies not in sentencing or providing places for young people to hang out. The answer lies in tackling poverty and lack of opportunities. But no politician, especially in the midst of an election, is going to admit a combination of more police, harsher sentencing and restrictions on knife sales are not the answer. Best to stay silent.

Housing and homelessness

Inasmuch as housing is mentioned it is with a competition over how many houses the parties are promising to build. What is not mentioned is that shelter is a basic human need and ought to be a basic human right. In London alone over 57,000 people were homeless last year. The UK is one of the richest countries in the world and yet homelessness and food poverty are not the scandals you might think they should be. 

Trade unions

Currently shackled by some of the most draconian laws outside of North Korea. The right to strike, right to picket and right to protest are essential in a democracy. It is assumed by the mass media that strikes, and by extension trade unions, are a bad thing. So, despite growing numbers taking to the picket lines, there will be no discussion of the merits of industrial action. Where protest of any sort is mentioned it is to remind us that those who protest are somehow extremists rather than the extreme events we tend to be protesting about.

What type of society we want to live in

It is impossible to calculate the number of hours or column inches expended on the general election by the mainstream media. But, whatever it is, the amount spent talking about how you would like to live your life and the type of society you want to live in is zero. General elections are not about challenging the status quo but reinforcing it. That is done not only by narrowing the focus but by omitting any issues that are not part of a pre-determined narrative. This is hardly democracy and is, in fact, a travesty of democracy. We deserve better but, so long as we play along to rules clearly written by others, the election will remain a media event dominated by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Brexit

The real elephant in the room is Brexit and yet given that it is perhaps the “most momentous decision the UK has taken in a generation” it has been ignored by all the parties.

This seems quite an important omission in terms of the impact that it has had on the economy. The Independent Office for Budget Responsibility estimates it has made the UK economy 4% smaller than it might have been. In its latest report it stated that both exports and imports will be around 15 per cent lower in the long run than if the UK had remained in the EU, and new trade deals with non EU countries will not have a material impact.

Sunak is clearly concerned about growing awareness as to how much of a failure it has been, Starmer is still trying to be all things to all people and is focused on winning over those Brexit voting areas that swung to the Tories in the 2019 election. The Lib Dems have put it at the bottom of their election manifesto, believing that the electorate are no longer interested, and even Farage is decidedly unforthcoming on the issue he campaigned for so vigorously.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *