With experts predicting this year’s election to be one of the hardest to call in modern times, it is no surprise then that here in Nottinghamshire the battle for seats is proving just as volatile and unpredictable.
In all of the county’s 11 parliamentary constituencies, from surprise candidates, to election pacts and the odd political scandal, and, of course, Brexit likely to be a major factor, nothing can be taken for granted.
The youth vote, many predict, could also be a deciding one. In 2016, an incredible 90% of over 65s voted in the European Referendum compared to just 64% of voters aged between 18 and 24. With 70% of the younger generation supporting Remain, it’s thought that many of those voters, alongside the young people who have more recently become eligible to vote, could lead a ground swell against the Conservatives and the Brexit Party.
Despite backlash from some quarters, academic leaders at Nottingham Trent University have taken the unprecedented decision to encourage its 30,000 students to vote. Information on how to register has been posted on lectures slides and emailed to students, many of whom will be eligible for the first time.
It is no surprise then that all major parties have been ploughing money into advertising campaigns on social media and targeting specifically the young inhabitants of Instagram and Snapchat. In the second week in November alone, it was reported, that the Conservatives spent more than £86,000 on ads with Labour and the Lib Dems spending around half of that amount at £43,000 and £42,000 respectively.
But, as the 2015 election demonstrated, the traditional two-horse race, which has characterised UK politics for generations, is becoming a thing of the past with so many voters turning their backs on their roots to entertain new ideas allowing for smaller parties to gain in popularity.
The British Election Study estimates that as many as 40% of voters are floating between the party they have always supported and something else which means, in this election perhaps more than any other in modern history, nothing is guaranteed on no outcome is certain.
The Green Party , led jointly by Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley, is hoping to capitalise on the public’s increasing concerns for the environment. With the issue constantly in the news, the party has seen is grass-roots support grow. But it also believes the UK should stay in Europe and in key seats, targeted by the Liberal Democrats, it has agreed not to field candidates to allow the Lib Dems a better chance.
But history also tells us, during times of economic hardship, attitudes can harden and views can become entrenched and no one doubts that this election is as much about Brexit as it is about any other issue. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is continuing to push for a quick exit at any cost with its uncompromising stance on Europe appealing to many former in former Labour heartlands.
And as the two main parties move further and further away from the centre, with the Brexit Party even further to the right, never before has politics in this country been more polarised.
Dodging the divisive issue of Brexit, by taking a neutral ground and promising a People’s Vote, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has been striving to convince the country to back his radical agenda for nationalisation and social equality. But his proposed substantial tax hikes for the better-off are proving unpopular and he has come under fire from members of the Jewish community for failing to tackle anti-semitism within his party.
Whilst the Liberal Democrats‘ Jo Swinson is gambling on winning over the 48% of people who voted to Remain in the European Union by promising to scrap Brexit. But even amongst those Remainers there are fears that the party’s plans to overturn Article 50 without a second referendum would represent a unpalatable challenge to our democracy.
And finally, Conservative leader Boris Johnson is aiming to secure his residency at No.10 with his insistence the most important issue facing the UK is to ‘get Brexit done’. But, the integrity of his promises of extra cash for new hospitals has been called into question as has his, seemingly, off-the-cuff claim he would cut taxes for low earners. He has also been accused of allowing Islamophobia to go unchallenged within his own party.
And so against this colourful and unprecedented political background, our Nottinghamshire parliamentary hopefuls are working hard to press home their individual brand of politics to win over voters.
Using the tabs at the top of our home page, you can find details of all the candidates standing in each of the 11 constituencies here in Nottinghamshire and what it is they are promising in return for votes.
We have visited these areas to find out what matters most to voters and to ask those campaigning to represent them how they will take these issues forward, not just in the run-up to polling day, but for the parliamentary term beyond.