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BRITAIN GOES TO THE POLLS TODAY, RACE TIGHTER THAN EXPECTED

June 08, 2017 | Uhuruspirit

A combination of pictures created in London on May 31, 2017 shows Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. Britain goes to the polls to vote in a general election on June 8. PHOTOS | ANDY BUCHANAN AND LINDSEY PARNABY | AFP



Britons go to the polls on Thursday in the shadow of terrorism, in an election Prime Minister Theresa May once expected to win easily but has proved increasingly hard to predict.

When May called the snap vote in April, presenting herself as the strong leader to take Britain into Brexit talks, opinion poll ratings for the premier and her centre-right Conservative party were sky high.

But Islamist attacks in London and Manchester have put her under pressure over her six years as interior minister, while campaign missteps have dented her reputation as a safe pair of hands.

Meanwhile opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, an anti-war campaigner deemed unelectable by a majority of his own lawmakers, has run an energetic campaign promising change and an end to austerity.

LOSE MAJORITY

While May has been touring target seats around the country, delivering slogan-heavy speeches to small groups of hand-picked activists, Corbyn has drawn large crowds to open-air rallies.

Polling experts — many of whom failed to predict the referendum vote to leave the European Union last year — are now wary of calling the outcome.

While most still expect a Conservative victory, predictions of the margin vary widely, and one shock forecast model even predicted May could lose her majority of 17 in the 650-seat House of Commons.

"I'd still put my money on a comfortable Tory win — but who knows?" said Tim Bale, politics professor at Queen Mary University of London.

Speaking to reporters on her plane during a final burst of campaigning on Wednesday, May insisted she had no regrets about calling the vote three years early.

"I've enjoyed the campaign," she said. "There is a very clear choice for people when they come to vote, between the coalition of chaos of Jeremy Corbyn, or the strong and stable leadership with me and my team."

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Asked what would constitute success, the 60-year-old vicar's daughter said: "I never predict election results."

Corbyn, a 68-year-old left-winger who has never held ministerial office and defied the odds to win the Labour leadership two years ago, urged supporters in Glasgow to think big.

"Wouldn't it be great if on Friday we woke up to... a Labour government that will be a government for all of our communities across the whole of the country, to deliver that social justice that we all crave?" he said.

The election is May's first since taking office after Britons voted by 52 percent to leave the European Union, plunging their country into an uncertain future.

May has accused Corbyn of being unprepared for negotiations set to begin on June 19, and unwilling to curb mass migration — a key driver of the Brexit vote.

But her government's record on cutting funding for health and education have also featured strongly in the campaign, to the benefit of Labour.

PAY MORE

"Jeremy Corbyn just seems more for us," said 38-year-old Debbie Worthy, a mother-of-two in Middlesbrough, northern England.

The Conservatives were also damaged by a manifesto plan for elderly care that would see many people pay more.

Then came the suicide bombing at a Manchester concert on May 22, which killed 22 people including seven children, followed by Saturday's knife and van attack in London, which left eight dead.

Campaigning was twice suspended in the aftermath of the attacks, which May blamed on "evil" Islamist ideology.

The Conservatives have always been strong on defence and security, and they have sought to exploit Corbyn's anti-nuclear stance and his alleged past support for Irish paramilitaries.

"They're more experienced — Jeremy Corbyn can't be trusted on security," said Talib Hussain, 46, a postmaster from Bradford in the northwest of England.

EXIT POLL

But May also faced uncomfortable questions over cuts to police numbers during her time as interior minister, amid accusations that the attackers in Manchester and London Bridge had slipped through the intelligence net.

Security on voting day was reviewed following the London attack, with the city's Metropolitan Police force implementing a "specialist and highly flexible operation" which it said could be deployed as needed.

Polls are open between 7:00am (0600 GMT) and 10:00pm.

An exit poll will give an indication of the outcome, although final results will not emerge until early Friday.

"When people ask me for a prediction, I have to say I know that I don't know," veteran BBC pollster David Butler said.

NARROW GAP

Eric Kaufmann, professor of politics at the University of London, predicted that May would increase her parliamentary majority by 25 seats — not as much as she had hoped, but still a "pretty solid" win.

A final poll by YouGov on Wednesday put the Conservatives seven points ahead of Labour, while ICM gave May's party a 12-point lead over its rivals.

Such predictions stand in stark contrast to a Monday poll by Survation, which gave a narrow one-point gap.

As the Conservatives and Labour trade blows, the smaller pro-European Liberal Democrats and the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party (UKIP) have failed to gain much traction.

However the Scottish National Party, which has called for a new independence vote after Brexit, again looks set to dominate north of the English border.

MEDIA GANG UP AGAINST CORBYN

Jeremy Corbyn has been a victim of bias media reporting by most of the UK media outlets who have sought to depict him as unelectable since his election as the leader of the Labour Party.

But as the media lies about him began to collapse like a pack of cards since the snap vote was called, his acceptability and electability has improved substantially in spite of the outright lies that have been told against him.

Nobody can deny now that he stands a chance in this election.

But unfortunately, the misleading media has stuck to their original narrative that he is dangerous.

Ahead of voting on Thursday, the Sun urged its readers not to “chuck Britain in the Cor-bin”.

The tabloid, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, published an editorial on its front page under the headline “Don’t Chuck Britain in the Cor-bin” alongside 10 bullet points that described the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “terrorists’ friend”, “useless on Brexit”, “puppet of unions” and “Marxist extremist”. The article said readers could “rescue Britain from the catastrophe of a takeover by Labour’s hard-left extremists”.

The Daily Mail front page roared, “Let’s reignite British spirit” on the back of a Theresa May speech and also promoted a feature inside called “Your tactical voting guide to boost the Tories and Brexit”.

The Daily Mirror reiterated its support for the Labour party with a front page headline of “Lies, damned lies, and Theresa May”, while the Daily Telegraph ran a story headlined “Your Country Needs You” based on an editorial by the prime minister that urged “patriotic” Labour supporters to vote Conservative. The Daily Express front page said: “Vote for May Today”.

Thursday’s front pages come after the Daily Mail devoted 13 pages to attacking Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and John McDonnell on Wednesday under the headline: “Apologists for terror”.

The tabloid urged readers to support the Conservatives in an editorial on its first and second pages, but concentrated its fire on Labour’s leadership, compiling hostile anecdotes dating back to the 1970s.



To some extent the demonisation of Corbyn has been an asset at a time of mounting anti-establishment sentiment -- much as the repeated attempts by Labour’s top brass to unseat him have only made him more popular among the grassroots. But while Corbyn’s diehard supporters were very much a minority, the election campaign has allowed him to reach out to the many sceptics too.

“Because expectations of him were so low, many people have said ‘Hang on, Mr Corbyn isn’t quite so bad after all’,” said Curtice. “And therefore people who four weeks ago would have said they couldn’t possibly back Labour under Corbyn, have frankly changed their mind.”

- with AFP/theguardian



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