The one month countdown to Britain’s parliamentary elections kicks off with few firm predictions.
Two things are certain: who will get the prime minister’s job is a contest between the incumbent David Cameron and opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband; the other sure thing is that the election won’t produce a one party government, since neither the Conservatives with Cameron nor Miliband and Labour are tipped to win an absolute majority, so governing will mean forming alliances, of two or maybe more parties.
Jobs, the economy, the health care system, immigration and Europe are the main fare in the campaigning.
Cameron, with 34% of voters saying they intend to cast their ballot in his favour, is asking for a second term in office, saying he wants to “finish the job”, touting record growth and unemployment below 6%. He is promising two million jobs in the next five years.
On the campaign trail, Cameron said: “We are not saying, ‘believe some forecast’, we are saying, ‘believe the record of creating a thousand jobs a day,’ and if we stick with the plan of keeping taxes low, making Britain an attractive place to invest, go on training the apprentices, build the big infrastructure projects like Crossrail, we can go on creating those jobs.”
Miliband is underscoring the effects of five years of the Conservative Party’s austerity policy, the widening inequality gap and the losses of middle income earners.
The Labour leader said: “David Cameron tried and failed to defend an economy that is shutting out most working people and an NHS going backwards. And what I set out was how we can build a recovery that goes beyond the City of London, how we can rescue our NHS — all based on the idea that it’s only when working people succeed that Britain succeeds.”
Proof that the political chess board is up for a grand revamp is the success of the right-wing populist UK Independence Party, led by Nigel Farage. His radical position on immigration plays a prominent role in Cameron’s promising to hold a referendum on the UK’s place in the European Union.
“I made it clear that, post-May 7th, if we find ourselves in the right position the absolutely key issue is the referendum. That doesn’t mean it will be the only one.”
In the longer term, a second referendum in Scotland is a real consideration, since the Scottish National Party, after not getting the result it wanted in a first historic plebiscite last September, keeps hopes alive for a majority in favour of an independent future, in a sort of federation with the UK.