The NHS and public spending appear to be two key topics that political parties in the UK are raising during campaigning for the 2015 general election. Early indication seems to show that the campaigns are taking a traditional form with the Labour Party showcasing potential Conservative spending reductions and the Conservatives highlighting potential Labour over-spending. The elections, scheduled for 7th May, are expected to be unique, especially with smaller parties such as the Scottish National Party (SNP) and United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) expected to play an important part in a potential coalition government.
Furthermore, the Conservative party are expected to showcase the growth that the economy has experienced during the Conservative government. Meanwhile, the Labour party seem to be focusing their early position in highlighting the challenges that they feel another Conservative government might bring to the NHS, whereas they promise to raise NHS funding through measures such as their proposed ‘Mansion Tax’. Equally, Labour are using pledges such as a rise in the minimum wage and a freeze in energy bills to evoke support in the electorate.
The NHS might be important to the outcome of the General Election due to the challenges it faces with increased demand and numbers of staff particularly in an era of spending reductions. Furthermore, the NHS is seen as a distinctive pillar of public policy within the United Kingdom and appears to be at the forefront of Labour’s electoral message. In response to Labour the Prime Minister stated “We’ve said very clearly we’ll protect the NHS – it’s very precious to me, it’s very precious to Britain.”
The prospect of another coalition government with smaller parties such as UKIP, SNP and the Green Party appears to be growing in support, and due to this the early campaigning might be an opportunity for the Conservatives and Labour to attempt to regain voters from these parties and position themselves as a more effective coalition partner. With UKIP having won the European elections, the SNP managing to pick up 45% of votes in the Scottish independence referendum and the Green Party doubling over 2014 to 27, 618 registered members these non-traditional parties appear to be in a strong position. This early campaigning may provide these growing parties with an appropriate chance to analyse the positions of the Conservatives and Labour with increased thought going on who might make an acceptable coalition partner.
The NHS seems to be one of many important electoral topics that parties may be campaigning on. Discussion on regional devolution might become key, in particular since the independence referendum in Scotland and with other regions in the United Kingdom expressing a desire to be subject to some levels of devolution. Immigration is also likely to be an important area of debate due to the success of UKIP in campaigning on that area. Equally, the challenging nature of world events in the last year might also bring foreign policy into the election debate limelight with policies involving Russia, EU membership and the Middle East playing a significant part within the election.
The 2015 General election seems to be already beginning with campaigning on topics such as the NHS and the economy which may be likely to be the foundation of the election. It seems that the NHS may be the area utilized by Labour whilst the Conservatives rely on a strengthening economy which may be underlined by UKIP, the Green Party and the SNP aiming to garner as much support and votes as possible in order to attempt to create a coalition government.
How might attention in the general election lead to more productive NHS public policy?