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UK Election 2024: What Are The Key Issues At Play?

With the July 4 UK election 2024 approaching, the United Kingdom is seeing an unprecedented number of candidates—over 4,000—campaigning for seats. Polls suggest Labour is likely to secure a majority, ending over a decade of Conservative rule that has seen five different leaders, including current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and former Prime Minister David Cameron, […]

UK Election 2024: What Are The Key Issues At Play?
UK Election 2024: What Are The Key Issues At Play?

With the July 4 UK election 2024 approaching, the United Kingdom is seeing an unprecedented number of candidates—over 4,000—campaigning for seats. Polls suggest Labour is likely to secure a majority, ending over a decade of Conservative rule that has seen five different leaders, including current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and former Prime Minister David Cameron, now serving as Foreign Secretary. Amidst this political shift, Nigel Farage’s Reform Party is poised to improve its standing, reflecting a growing division in the electorate.

Key Election Issues: Economy, Housing, Health, and Immigration

Economic Challenges

The UK’s economy is a central issue, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) highlighting the worst income growth in generations over the past 15 years. Both rich and poor have experienced slow growth, stalling progress on reducing absolute poverty. The ongoing cost-of-living crisis, characterized by rising prices and stagnant wages, is a critical concern for voters. Labour leader Keir Starmer has proposed significant reforms, including a £7.4 billion tax increase to fund the NHS, housing, and energy sectors. In contrast, the Conservatives are promising £17 billion in annual tax cuts, including reductions in National Insurance contributions.

Housing Crisis

The housing crisis remains acute, exacerbated by austerity measures from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition that came to power in 2010. Rising property prices, rental hikes, and a shortage of affordable homes have led to an 89% increase in temporary accommodations over the past decade. The Conservatives pledge to build 1.6 million new homes, while Labour aims to restore local house-building targets, scrapped in 2023, with a goal of 1.5 million new homes.

Health Concerns

Health is a top priority for voters, with NHS waiting lists at an all-time high. As of April, 7.6 million people were waiting for treatment, just below last September’s record. Emergency department wait times have also surged, with over 50% of patients waiting more than four hours as of late 2022. Labour promises to cut NHS waiting times by adding 40,000 more weekly health appointments and doubling the number of cancer scanners. The Conservatives have committed to increasing the NHS budget, though many view this as too little, too late.

Immigration Debate

Immigration continues to be a contentious issue. A YouGov poll for Sky News found that 43% of Britons view immigration negatively, compared to 35% who see it positively. The Conservatives have pledged to reduce irregular arrivals, such as those crossing the English Channel in small boats. Their controversial plan to deport undocumented individuals to Rwanda has faced legal challenges and delays. Labour plans to scrap this policy and has promised to reduce net migration without detailing specific measures.

Foreign Policy Focus: Ukraine And Gaza

Support For Ukraine

The UK’s support for Ukraine remains steadfast. Prime Minister Sunak has reiterated the country’s commitment to aiding Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, promising continued support “whatever it takes.” The UK has pledged £12.5 billion in aid, including £7.6 billion in military assistance. Labour has affirmed its “ironclad” support for Ukraine and aims to help isolate Russia diplomatically and boost Ukraine’s industrial production.

Gaza Conflict

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has sparked significant public outcry in the UK, with many Britons demanding an immediate ceasefire. A YouGov poll showed that over 70% of British people want an end to the violence. Labour has pledged to recognize a Palestinian state as part of a peace process leading to a two-state solution. However, party leader Keir Starmer’s previous comments on Israel’s right to cut off water and electricity to Gaza have alienated some Muslim voters, leading to a potential loss of support in this demographic.

Regardless of the UK election 2024 outcome, the next UK government will face substantial challenges. Economic stagnation, a housing crisis, health system strain, and contentious immigration policies are just a few of the pressing issues. As the nation prepares to vote, the only certainty is that significant and immediate action will be required to address these multifaceted problems.

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TDGThe Daily GuardianUK Election 2024UK General Elections