UK goes to the polls, polls open awaiting the turning point. The key words of these elections


By John

Polls open in the four nations of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) for the elections to renew the 650 seats in the House of Commons, the only elective branch of the Westminster Parliament, according to the traditional voting system divided into as many single-member majoritarian constituencies: in which only the first passes (‘first past the post’). Around 50 million Britons are called to vote those entitled, out of a population of almost 68 million, between the 7 local elections (8 in Italy) and the 22 (23 in Italy).

The unanimous forecasts indicate a very large victory for the Labour opposition with a return of Labour to government after 14 years of fasting, under the moderate leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, 61-year-old former Crown Prosecutor. And, in parallel, a historic collapse of the Conservatives of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in power since 2010, against the backdrop of crises, scandals and lacerations marked by the backlash of Brexit as well as by a revolving door of leaders. The Tories, according to some estimates, risk being approached, if not overtaken, in terms of percentage consensus by the populists of Reform UK of the revived Nigel Farage, who are competing with them on the right; and in terms of seats by the centrist Liberal Democrats of Ed Davey, whose votes are traditionally better distributed in the various constituencies.

UK votes: the key words of these elections

Climate change, Brexit and Europe have been key issues in previous UK election campaigns, but an analysis by the Guardian shows that they have been given much less prominence in the latest manifestos of the two main parties, the Tories and Labour, this election.
Examining every Conservative and Labour election manifesto from 1945 to the present day, the Guardian found that while both parties still devote entire articles to the climate emergency, these issues are less prominent than they were in the last election in 2019. While Labour mentions climate issues at a higher rate (1.7 climate-related terms per 1,000 words) than the Tory manifesto (1 in 1,000), they are mentioned far less frequently than in the 2019 documents (4.4 mentions per 1,000 words for Labour and 1.1 for the Conservatives).

The analysis, which captures the relative frequency of words for every manifesto published by both parties over eight decades, does not consider the content of the policies or the meaning of the words themselves. This means that the strength of the policies, or even each party’s stance on an issue, is not taken into account, the Guardian explains. However, measuring the amount of ‘ink’ devoted to different issues provides a sense of the key issues that the two main parties are focusing on.
References to Brexit, Europe and European institutions in this election campaign are packed into less than one word in 1,000 in both parties’ policy documents – the lowest level since 2010 for Labour and 1970 for the Conservatives. The Conservative Party mentioned the word Brexit 61 times in its 2019 manifesto, entitled “Get Brexit Done”. In this year’s document, that frequency has fallen to just 12 times, while Labour has mentioned Brexit just once compared to 21 times in the last election in 2019.

The Guardian also analysed each manifesto to find the word “exceptional” – not the most common word, but the one that appears most when compared to all previous manifestos: this year, for the first time, the most prominent word used by the Conservatives was “NHS”, the acronym for the public health service, which was mentioned 54 times in their manifesto. The NHS was also the most prominent topic for the Labour party, with 52 mentions mainly focusing on the deplorable state of the public health system after 14 years of Conservative rule.