GE2017 For Dummies

An Election Guide for Dummies: Take 2

This time around it is the recent General Election I will be breaking down, which sees the electorate take to the polls to vote for one candidate from a political party to see them through to one of the 650 seats up for grabs across the UK (18 of which are in Northern Ireland).

My thoughts on this election are summed up in these 5 words.

As you might have already heard, the Conservatives suffered crippling losses at the hands of Theresa May’s ‘gamble’ to call this premature election in the first place. In order for the Tories to take sole leadership in the UK, they must hold a majority of 326 seats. Although, they only managed to gain 318 seats, meaning they lost their reigning majority in the House of Commons and ultimately the sole power to run this country.

 

But lets be honest, it was probably the farmers revolt against Theresa for ruining their crops.

 

Although they still hold the most seats of any party in the UK, they need the help of a smaller party to form a government  – this is when the DUP come in to play.

The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn triumphed in this election, turning around their less than satisfactory polling in the 2015 election to gain 29 brand new seats, upping their total number of seats to 261. I am pinning this unbelievable result on the students who registered to make their voice heard in an election campaign where Corbyn capitalised on student debt worries and promised a free ride to higher education if he was voted PM. It was the mass student outcry in key Uni areas such as Kent and Leeds that helped Labour win over the Conservatives in historic proportions.

 

Image result for jeremy corbyn fur coat
This is the way I’m currently imagining Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction

 

What Labour did in this election, is similar to how the Sinn Fein removed the DUP majority in Stormont elections just months ago. This is a tremendous achievement for both liberalism and socialism.

 

What does this mean for NI?

In NI, a vote holds a completely different political agenda as to if you were voting Labour or Conservative in the rest of the UK. Instead of voting Left or Right, you most likely voted Republican or Loyalist. The reason I use the two more extreme versions of the NI division (instead of Nationalist and Unionist), is because Northern Ireland has seen a surge in radicalisation, as the NI voters decided to mostly go DUP or Sinn Fein.

As predicted in my last blog, we have seen a total annihilation of the UUP and SDLP, two ‘softer’ parties with less hard-line policies (despite the UUP and DUP being as backward as each other). The Foyle constituency, described as a ‘Citadel of the SDLP’, was a historic win for Sinn Fein as it has been for decades the political stronghold of the SDLP. Another huge success for SF is South Down where Chris Hazzard won the seat from SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie. DUP also stole the seats of South Antrim and South Belfast.

  • Sinn Fein will continue their policy of abstention where they do not take their seats at Westminster.

 

Where do the DUP come into all of this?

Since announced by Theresa May that the Tories will be entering into an official partnership with the DUP to be able to form a minority government, the DUP have been the most searched political party on Google in the UK. Voters will be wondering who Arlene Foster is and what her political agenda is. They will come across articles on the ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal, her bigoted stance on gay marriage and abortion and her pro-Brexit policy. Of course, English news websites have highlighted Foster’s troubled past with the IRA, likely to resonate with those in England still fearful of the terrorist group since the 1990’s. I should not need to go into the ancient, obnoxious policies of the DUP, but it is imperative that you know that their stance on some key humanitarian issues have no place in modern day society in NI.

 

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As a line dancer myself, I find the first one most upsetting…..

 

The DUP’s aim with working with Theresa May is to help achieve their Brexit goals, like pushing for a soft border due to the special circumstances which surround NI and the ROI. In a way, it is good that Northern Ireland finally have a significant impact on the going-ons in Westminster, but on the other hand I am frightened that it is the DUP who have the say.

So there we have it. Despite the British people showing a clear want for a political reform, we have against all odds seen the most shocking election in decades, with a Conservative government upheld only by the Democratic Unionist Party.

In 2 and a half years, I have voted in 4 elections. Each time I made my voice heard, despite belonging to one of the most secure nationalist constituencies in the North. I still need to utilise that vote to make sure the party I believe in are getting popular support. If you didn’t vote, I have no doubt you will get the chance to very soon.

 

Shannon Quinn is a 2nd year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/shannon-quinn-556236132 and on Twitter @ShannonQuinnPR.

Since my last political post faired out so well, I have decided to continue to include my own opinion on the going-on’s in Northern Ireland’s ever-changing political landscape.

If Facebook was invented during the Troubles, I can only imagine that the war would have been fought with a keyboard instead of with guns. As social media has grew in popularity, a steady decline of humility and feeling has occurred. This negative correlation showed itself to me firstly when Margaret Thatcher died, as thousands flooded my timeline to show their courtesy – yet simultaneous disrespect – to her death.

However, on 21/03/2017, I was genuinely shocked to come on to Facebook and Twitter, and see so many disgusting comments at the death of Martin McGuinness. A man without whom Northern Ireland would still be very much stuck in the 1980’s.

As Margaret Thatcher is the only person who comes to mind when trying to compare the two political giants’ deaths, I must remind you of the background of each character.

Baroness Thatcher came from a well-to-do family and grew up in a quiet market town in Lincolnshire. Martin McGuinness was raised in the Bogside of Derry City, which to those who haven’t studied an ounce of NI history (half of my Facebook timeline), was a highly deprived area where Catholics were discriminated against at the electoral polls and at the housing executive. He left school at the age of 15 and without the right education behind him to express his anger at the British Government through speech, he delved into the violence that was rife at that time throughout NI.

I found this tweet sums up a great deal of Martin McGuinness’ early years.

 

This is not a post to make excuses for McGuinness’ early years, when he was obviously under the influence of the romanticised Irish patriots of the 20th century, but instead a post to commemorate his final 20 years where he pushed for change for Northern Ireland.

The progress he made throughout his political career is unparalleled – being the chief negotiator for Sinn Fein and Irish republicans through the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and staying with the power sharing Executive throughout its 19 year period. He too had to make compromises when dealing with the opposition who he fought with violence so vehemently just years previously. His warm and witty personality caught the attention of US President Bill Clinton, who spoke at his funeral.

The most poignant part of Clinton’s speech was when he mentioned Nelson Mandela. The South-African freedom fighter has come to epitomise peace and revolution – despite being involved in similar militant tactics as a young man. Clinton said that in a conversation with Mandela, Mandela told his people “if I can get over ‘it’ you can too, we have got to build a future”, which is exactly the attitude Martin McGuinness had when realising that until republicans and loyalist sides learned to move forward together, they wouldn’t move at all.

 

Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinnesswatched by First minister Peter Robinson (centre) at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Photograph: PA
McGuinness shaking Queen Elizabeth II’s hand. “If I can get over it, you can too. We have got to build a future.” – Nelson Mandela

 

If the Queen can shake Martin McGuinness’ hand although he was head of the IRA when her cousin Mountbatten was murdered by them – then surely everyone can pay respect to him (or perhaps not react at all), because after all he is a human being.

It is easy to judge someone when you only see them in black and white. But when I think of Martin McGuinness, his past reflects a rainbow of triumphs and turbulence.

Martin McGuinness “expanded the definition of ‘us’, and shrunk the definition of ‘them”

– Bill Clinton.

Image result for martin mcguinness funeral

 

Shannon Quinn is a 2nd year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/shannon-quinn-556236132 and on Twitter @ShannonQuinnPR.