- Polls show Conservative majority for general election could be hard
The U.K. general election on Dec. 12 could result in a hung parliament, although the Conservatives are hoping for a parliament majority to push through Brexit.
The latest opinion polls reveal that the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's party lead over Labour stabilized at 10 points, with the Labour party’s momentum falling away as they struggle to narrow the gap. The polls show that over the last few days, Labours is gaining support, but not sufficiently to close this gap. Nonetheless, it should be noted that the polls were mostly wrong in the outcome of the Scottish referendum, the EU referendum and the last two general elections.
A quick review of the three main parties shows that leader of the ruling center-right Conservative Party and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 55, has been one of the U.K.’s most-high-profile but controversial politicians.
He is the former editor of the right-wing Spectator magazine and a former columnist for the center-right Telegraph newspaper. In the latter position, he garnered controversy for allegedly racist comments about Muslims and foreigners, an issue that he was challenged on during the current election campaign. Since 2015, he has been MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and between 2016 and 2018 was the U.K.’s foreign minister. In 2016, he was a leading figure in the pro-Brexit campaign. He was photographed standing next to a bus emblazoned with the claim that Britain pays the European Union £350 million a week, and said if Leave won, the money could be diverted to the National Health Service (NHS) - a claim critics say was unsubstantiated. He won the Conservative leadership race and became prime minister in 2019.
Jeremy Corbyn, 70, is the leader of the opposition center-left Labour Party. A firebrand socialist, his landslide victory in the 2015 Labour leadership election was a surprise to everyone, including his own supporters. A long-time backbench MP, he spent three decades criticizing both the Conservatives and his own party for not being progressive enough. His anti-austerity credentials helped him win over young people, but some of his other stances have generated controversy. Corbyn has been MP for Islington North since 1983. He is pro-nuclear disarmament, supported the miner’s strike in the 1980s, opposed apartheid, supported animal rights, advocated for gay rights and opposed the Iraq War. He has also been accused of being anti-Semitic.
Jo Swinson, 39, is the first female leader of the centrist Liberal Democrat party. She was born in Scotland and made her first run for parliament at the age of just 21. She lost and tried again in 2003 for a seat in the devolved Scottish parliament. She lost again. But in 2005, it proved to be third time lucky when she won her current seat of East Dunbartonshire. At 25, she was the youngest member of parliament.
During the 2010-15 Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, she became a minister for employment relations and consumer affairs and later on, she became women and equalities minister. She lost her seat in 2015 but regained it two years later, rising to become party leader in 2018.
She won the Liberal Democrat leadership election as a new face, but she and the party are still associated by some with the coalition government’s austerity policies.
Nicola Sturgeon, 49, is the leader of the left-wing Scottish National Party (SNP). She joined the party when she was 16 and entered the Scottish parliament when she was 29.
Following an SNP victory in the 2007 Scottish parliamentary election, she became deputy first minister and health secretary under her predecessor, Alex Salmond. She led her party’s historic 2011 campaign when the SNP won a majority in the Scottish parliament and then led the Yes campaign in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, which the SNP lost 55% to 45%.
She has insisted that permission from London to carry out a second independence referendum is a red line for the SNP’s support of a Labour-led pro-Remain coalition in Westminster. Sturgeon is widely regarded as one of the U.K.’s most effective politicians and performs well in election debates, as does her party in regional and national elections.