The general health of the nation is at stake once again as Brits head to the polls in December. But this is an election with a twist; it is decidedly fixated on a single issue.
As campaigning got underway this week, the latest polling from Opinium revealed that two-fifths say Brexit will be the key decider when casting their vote, even though 59 per cent believe that the NHS is a more important issue.
It was also revealed that fewer people than ever think Boris Johnson struck a good deal with the European Union, with just 27 per cent of Labour Leavers backing it and 44 per cent of Conservative Leavers saying the same.
Fighting an election on their own terms
The findings show, with the Conservatives polling on 42 per cent of the vote, that the British public could be allowing them to fight this election on their own terms, which is concerning for two reasons.
The first is that it overlooks many other crucial issues.
Matters such as health, crime, austerity, the economy and the climate are playing second fiddle to a single issue that has had an unrelenting and overbearing effect on the electorate.
And the second is that even if the Conservatives were to land the majority they desire, we wouldn’t even know whether the prize is what the public wants.
As I wrote last week, only a confirmatory referendum would provide the government with the public mandate it should desire to deliver Brexit.
Unlike the first referendum it would offer a more informed vantage point on the decision for voters with a deal in place and, to an extent, impact assessments to show what the future health of the nation would look like.
What’s more, it wouldn’t drag into the decision all the other aspects a general election entails.
How are people expected to vote when they a pro-Leave but are worried about the state of our public services and the impact of austerity on local communities, for example?
Or how might a pro-Remain voter decide when their chief concern is the impact of higher education fees on a society ravished by inequality?
There are no winners in a single issue election, but given the current climate surrounding Brexit and a general eagerness to get it resolved that is precisely what we’re going to get.
As John Harris wrote in The Guardian today, “elections used to bring us solutions. The 2019 general election won’t”.
We will be left with a country still as divided as before facing issues that have become similarly overlooked, all because we took a 52/48 punt on a better life outside of the EU.
As Harris puts it, “what transpires on Friday 13 December will have a big influence on the future. But the day after, the usual noise and confusion will resume, as our politics continues to evolve in ways we are only just beginning to understand.”
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