Hadn't you heard? There's an election on! It's all over the news, but what does it all mean? Here to explain what you need to know is Zoe Chadwick. Here, she details what's in the manifestos (especially the bits that affect the equine sector) from the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems.
The Manifestos Are Out!
The campaigning for the General Election is well underway, and this week the parties are releasing their manifestos, outlining what the UK would look like should they be elected on the 8th June.
I’ve pulled out the key elements for the equine sector from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat manifesto for you in the summary below:
The Conservative Party will:
- Control immigration and secure the entitlements of EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU.
- Maintain the Common Travel Area and maintain as frictionless a border as possible for people, goods and services between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
- Pursue free trade with European markets, and secure new trade agreements with other countries.
- Subject the final Brexit agreement to a vote in both houses of parliament.
- Bring forward a number of bills (in addition to the Great Repeal Bill) to ensure that when Britain has left the EU there is a clear statutory basis for United Kingdom authorities to exercise powers that are currently exercised through EU law and institutions.
- Will not bring the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law.
Agriculture and Rural Infrastructure
- Work with farmers, food producers and environmental experts across Britain and with the devolved administrations to devise a new agri-environment system.
- Bring sustainable growth to the rural economy and boost our rural areas, so that people who live in the countryside have the same opportunities as those who live in towns and cities.
- Take steps to enhance the provision of public services in rural area.
- Continue to take action to improve animal welfare by implementing their proposed reforms on pet sales and licensing and making CCTV recording in slaughterhouses mandatory.
Work & Skills
- Increase the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020 and then by the rate of median earnings.
The Labour Party will:
- Immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who have chosen to make their lives in EU countries.
- Drop the Conservatives’ Great Repeal Bill, replacing it with an EU Rights and Protections Bill that will ensure there is no detrimental change to workers’ rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections as a result of Brexit.
- Scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union.
Agriculture and Rural Infrastructure
- Invest in broadband, housing and transport to create jobs in rural communities and ensure that the nation’s prosperity is felt beyond our large towns and cities.
- Introduce a ‘rural-proofing’ process so that all our laws, policies and programmes consider their impact on rural communities.
- Allow EU workers employed across farming, fishing and food manufacturing to remain in the UK, and reinstate the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme.
- Reinstate the Agricultural Wages Board to underpin employment standards and wages.
- Prioritise a sustainable, long-term future for our farming, fishing and food industries and invest in rural and coastal communities.
- Ensure the UK lead’s the world with high animal welfare standards in the wild, in farming and for domestic animals.
- Increase the maximum sentence for those convicted of committing animal cruelty.
- Promote cruelty-free animal husbandry and consult on ways to ensure better enforcement of agreed standards.
Work & Skills
- Raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) – for all workers aged 18 or over.
- Provide free lifelong education in Further Education, providing opportunity for people to retrain or upskill during their lives.
- Maintain the Apprenticeship Levy and improve the quality of apprenticeships.
- Double the number of completed apprenticeships at NVQ Level 3 by 2022.
- Implement a Ministry of Labour which will have the resources to enforce all workers’ rights.
- Introduce a 20-point plan for ensuring security and equality at work, including banning zero-hours contracts and repealing the Trade Union Act.
- Ensure sporting events are open and accessible to all, and push sports authorities to make rapid improvements on access provision for fans with disabilities.
The Liberal Democrats will:
- Guarantee the protection of rights for EU citizens and UK citizens - press for the UK to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK, ending their ongoing uncertainty, and call for the overhaul and simplification of the registration process and the requirements for EU nationals to obtain permanent residence and UK citizenship.
- Guarantee membership of the single market and customs union - any deal negotiated for the UK outside the EU must ensure that trade can continue without customs controls at the border, and must maintain membership of the single market.
- Guarantee freedom of movement - any deal negotiated for the UK outside the EU must protect the right to work, travel, study and retire across the EU.
Agriculture & Rural Infrastructure
- Continue their long campaign to reform agricultural subsidies – making sure British farming remains competitive and doesn’t lose out in the event of Britain leaving the EU, rebalancing away from direct subsidy and refocusing support towards the public benefits that come from effective land management including countryside protection, flood prevention, food production and climate-change mitigation.
- Ensure that every property in the UK is provided, by 2022, with a superfast broadband connection with a download speed of 30Mbps, an upload speed of 6Mbps, and an unlimited usage cap.
- Invest £2billion in innovative solutions to ensure the provision of high speed broadband across the rural UK, working with local authorities and providing grants to help areas replicate the success of existing community led projects.
- Set up a £2billion Rural Services Fund of capital investment to enable communities to establish a local base from which to co-locate services such as council offices, post offices, children’s centres, libraries and visiting healthcare professionals.
- Continue to improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture by updating farm animal welfare codes and promoting the responsible stewardship of antibiotic drugs.
- Introduce stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences, increasing the maximum sentencing from six months to five years, and bring in a ban on caged hens.
- Clamp down on illegal pet imports through legal identification requirements for online sales, and minimise the use of animals in scientific experimentation, including by funding research into alternatives.
Work & Skills
- Aim to double the number of businesses which hire apprentices, including by extending apprenticeships to new sectors of the economy such as creative and digital industries.
- Encourage the creation and widespread adoption of a ‘good employer’ kitemark covering areas such as paying a living wage, avoiding unpaid internships and using name-blind recruitment to make it easier for customers and investors to exercise choice and influence.
- Protect sports and arts funding via the National Lottery
Who's going to win?
Current polling still puts the Conservatives in the lead, but the Labour Party is steadily gaining ground. Latest polling has given Labour an 8 point boost, leaving them only 15 points behind the Conservative party.
15 points is still a significant lead mind you, but the fact that Labour has reduced the Tories’ lead by 8 points more than halfway through the campaign makes the election that little be more intriguing.
So with only three weeks to go, all candidates will be working hard to get your vote.
If you would like to vote and have not yet registered, you have until the 22nd May to do so, and you can register via: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote