In this talking in English lesson we cover the British 2019 general election, and why this election is different. Along the way we explain how elections work in the UK and how things are changing because of the Brexit referendum result. So an interesting opportunity to dust off vocabulary specific to elections and democracy, great for conversational English practice.
Democracies around the world are always changing, it is the nature of democracy to change, usually slowly and predictably. Recently, the people in the US, UK rejected the status quo and are saying no too more of the same governance and are demanding a faster pace of change. This has led to a lot of arguments and polarisation of views which has led to the policy decision making in both the UK and the US slowing to a halt.
Unfortunately, doing nothing for years is no-way to run a country, and these countries need to break the gridlock. So in it seems in the US they started an impeachment process to force change. In the UK they called a snap general election to break the standoff.
Who knows where this will lead us? However, if you intend to learn to speak English, it provides a great opportunity for us to listen and speak some interesting English language and vocabulary.
Most Unusual Words:
Canterbury Marmite Cymru
Most common 3 word phrases:
|In The UK||8|
|A Lot Of||5|
|Of The UK||3|
|The Brexit Election||3|
|The Brexit Party||3|
Listen To The Audio Lesson NowThe mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.
Transcript: Talking English About The 2019 Brexit Election
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English, talking English to help you learn to improve your spoken English, and learn English speaking in a more pleasurable way than with other methods!
The UK Election 2019
Well, we are currently in the middle of an election here in the UK. ‘An election’ is what happens when you vote for political parties, you vote for politicians, if you live in a democracy. And then the people that you vote for end up in power. They end up determining how the country is governed, what laws are brought in etc. In the UK, the people we vote for are MPs, or Members of Parliament and each MP has a ‘seat’, S-E-A-T, which doesn’t here mean a chair, but rather a seat means a small geographical area of the country that an MP represents. It does mean that they have a seat in parliament – but if you’ve ever seen video of the UK parliament, it’s more accurate to say that they have ‘place on a bench’ - parliament doesn’t really do chairs!
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A map of Europe with all the various European flags, used to highlight that the UK is still a member of the European Union 3 years after voting to leave.
So the date of the election in the UK is 12th December 2019. And this is being called ‘The Brexit Election’. Even though it’s more than three years, since the UK voted by a narrow majority to leave the EU – we still haven’t left – and there’s still a lot of debate over how we leave and even whether we leave. So in a sense, this election is ‘The Brexit Election’ because it will decide finally about Brexit. Or will it?!
Why is it being called ‘The Brexit Election’?
We have in the UK a ‘party system’ - in that most of our MPs, most of our members of parliament belong to a ‘main party’. Now you may know the word ‘party’ to mean a social gathering, a social get-together, where you might meet up with your friends and have fun. But here, the word ‘party’, P-A-R-T-Y is being used to mean a formal group, where political opinion is shared, common. Or at least, it used to mean that – until we had the issue of Brexit. Now there are problems for the two main parties in the UK – so that’s The Conservatives and Labour – in that Brexit divides both parties. In each party, there are people who’re pro-Brexit and there are people who’re anti-Brexit. And as I’ve said before, it’s a Marmite issue. There are leavers and remainers – most people have a very firm opinion and they don’t want to compromise. And three years of arguing has firmed up, has entrenched people’s opinions.
So the official position is that a Conservative government would see Brexit through, probably using Boris Johnson’s ‘deal’ - that is the agreement he arrived at recently with the EU, with the European Union. Except that in that agreement, there are still a lot of things yet to be decided. And there are a lot of Conservative MPs who will vote against Boris’s deal. The other main party, Labour is divided also. And they’ve arrived at saying if we get into power, there will be a second referendum – a second vote on the EU. The problem for Labour is, a lot of their traditional voters, the people who normally vote Labour probably are wanting Brexit to happen and yet most people in the Labour party don’t want Brexit to happen. So there’s a divide between the MPs and the people that vote for them. The Liberal Democrats are one of the smaller parties and they’re saying ‘we will stop Brexit altogether’ and revoke article 50 – so stop the whole process. And then of course, there’s also the Brexit Party, who want an even harder Brexit than the one proposed by Boris Johnson.
So with all these parties and issues – and the complication also of there being lots of MPs stepping down, letting new people in – it’s impossible to tell what’s going to happen.
General election 2019: The voting system explained - BBC News Video
It’s Hard to Predict
So, it’s always difficult to predict an election result, but this one is particularly difficult. There is a ‘Brexit effect’ going on, which is turning politics ‘on its head’, ‘turning politics upside down’. I’ll explain. The two main parties, The Conservatives and Labour have been the main political parties in the UK for nearly 100 years. The word ‘conservative’ with a small ‘c’ in English means that your attitude, your thinking ‘tends to want things to stay the same as they are’. The verb ‘to conserve’ is what you do to food that you want to keep for a long period of time. So ‘Conservatives’ traditionally have been people who like things as they are and this political party has been associated with the middle and upper classes in British society. They tend to be more right-wing politically. And just because of the way the UK is, that has meant that they tend to hold power more in the south of the country. Labour meanwhile became a political force, through advocating for worker’s rights, through representing ordinary workers. So traditionally, Labour was the party whom the working classes, the ordinary people voted for. And geographically, the north of the UK, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales, all the places where there was more industry, these would have voted Labour. That’s the tradition anyway.
British Politics Turned on its Head!
But – in this election, with Brexit in mind, the situation is reversing. There seems to be far more support for Brexit in the working classes than in the middle and the upper classes. And that might mean far more support perhaps – we don’t know yet – for the Conservatives in the north and the Midlands, which are traditionally Labour areas and perhaps more support for Labour in the south. That’s unless of course, the people in the north vote for The Brexit Party. And in Scotland and Wales, there’s traditionally been strong support for Labour. But now nationalist parties have gained support. So in Scotland there’s the SNP or the Scottish Nationalist Party and in Wales there’s Plaid Cymru. These parties and their popularity make it even harder to predict. A ‘nationalist’ party means one that wants a separate nation. In the UK, there’s far more pressure from Scotland to be a separate nation than there is from Wales, where ‘the union’ seems to be more what people want.
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So the working classes traditionally voted Labour and the middle and upper classes voted Conservative. But when you add ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ into it, the middle classes, the so-called educated ‘liberal elite’ are far more likely to vote Liberal Democrat or for the more left-wing Labour Party because they don’t want Brexit. And the working class seem perhaps more likely to vote Conservative or even Brexit Party because they do want Brexit! And this is a complete turnaround from how politics in the UK has been traditionally – 100 years of politics being turned on its head! All of this would have been unthinkable before Brexit came along. That’s how much Brexit has changed British politics.
Tactical Voting Will Affect the Result!
There’s also in the mix other complications. Certain parties are making tactical decisions to withdraw their own candidates. So ‘a candidate’ is somebody who stands, ‘to withdraw’ means you take that candidate away. And ‘tactical’ as in ‘tactical decisions’ or ‘tactical choices’ - ‘tactical’ is an adjective, which means ‘using tactics’. And tactics, T-A-C-T-I-C-S means the things you do, which make a certain outcome more likely. In a game, you may employ tactics to help you win. If you like, tactics are a strategy, a plan you’ve formulated and which you’re using to help you get a certain result. So the ‘tactical withdrawal of candidates’ during this election? If you ‘withdraw a candidate’ it means that your political party decide not to put forward that candidate for a particular seat.
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So this doesn’t what usually happen in an election – parties generally contest most seats, most areas. But candidates are being tactically withdrawn, removed – to boost, or increase votes for whichever other party it is on the same side about Brexit. So for example, if you have a parliamentary seat, an area where candidates are competing against each other to become the MP for that area, and a lot of people want ‘remain’, if there are two ‘remain’ candidates for different parties, they may split the vote – and the ‘leave’ candidate may be successful. So for example, in the town of Canterbury, the Liberal Democrat candidate has withdrawn, in the hope that remain voters will all support the Labour candidate instead, otherwise the Conservative candidate might win if the vote is split. And the Brexit Party has agreed not to put candidates in 317 seats, which were Conservative last time, last time we had an election, because it doesn’t want to split the Leave vote.
Hard to Call, but Interesting to Watch!
All of this means that this is one of the most difficult-to-predict elections that we’ve ever had. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. And it will make for a very entertaining night of the 12th December and the early morning of the 13th December. Time to get in some bottles of beer and prepare to stay up and watch the results, I think. It’s going to be interesting and full of surprises! Enough talking. English vocabulary around elections will hopefully be very useful for you to learn.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.