A Guide To The General Election 2017: Everything You Need To Know Before Voting

From the parties' manifestos to the opening and closing times of polling stations, we've got you covered with our guide to the General Election 2017.

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The day of voting in the UK General Election is almost upon on us.

With polling cards at the ready, Twitter/national press providing us with last minute updates regarding changes in the political parties (*ahem* Dianne Abbott) and the prime minister admitting the naughtiest thing she did as a child, approximately 2.3million registered voters will take to the streets tomorrow to determine which political party will run the UK for at least the next four years.

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However, if you still feel undecided, conflicted or haven't yet managed to read the parties' manifestos, fear not. We've, thankfully, compiled a list of everything you need to know, ranging the parties' manifestos (and how to find them), their main objectives, your local polling stations, their opening times, and when you should expect to learn of the result on Friday.


Manifestos

With several parties in the running, it's about time you know the key points from their manifestos and where to read the texts in full.

Conservatives

  • 'No deal is better than a bad deal'. Theresa May has said she will walk away from our divorce with the EU without a deal if she thinks what's on offer isn't a good alternative for the UK.
  • If voted in again, they will be 'taking measures' to close the gender pay gap, including requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish more data on the pay gap between the men and women in their staff and pushing 'for an increase in the number of women sitting on boards of companies'.
  • Offer asylum to people in places affected by conflict and oppression. At the same time, they promise to reduce asylum claims made by people already in Britain.
  • Invest £178 billion in new military equipment over the next 10 years.
  • Retain the Trident nuclear deterrent programme.
  • Invest a minimum of £8billion a year over the next five years into the NHS.
  • Increase the tax-free personal allowance from £11,500 to £12,500.
  • Raise the higher tax rate bracket from £45,000 to a minimum earning of £50,000.
  • Scrap universal school lunches for children in the first three years of primary school and replace it with free school breakfasts.
  • Build 100 more free schools a year and stop councils allowing any more places in schools rated 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement' by Ofsted.

Read the Conservatives' manifesto in full here.

Labour

  • By contrast, the Labour government vows to rule out the 'no deal' option and will fight to come up with a trade deal with the EU.
  • Keep the shared approach to education with the EU so British university students can study abroad under the Erasmus scheme. It will also continue to welcome international students.
  • Pledge to work with the Northern Ireland assembly to make abortion legal in the country.
  • Form a cabinet which is at least 50 per cent women.
  • Stop overseas-only recruitment and prosecute employers evading the minimum wage.
  • Prioritise jobs and prosperity over 'bogus immigration targets' and 'develop and implement fair immigration rules'.
  • Put 'conflict resolution and human rights' at the heart of foreign policy and guide foreign policy values by peace, universal rights and international law.
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  • They promise not to 'be afraid to disagree' with a US government led by President Donald Trump.
  • Invest £30 billion in the NHS, paid for by an increase on income tax for the country's wealthiest people and on private medical insurance.
  • Scrap the pay cap for NHS staff and re-introduce bursaries for health-related degrees.
  • Not raise income tax for those earning below £80,000 per year, national insurance tax or VAT (which Labour say will mean 95 per cent of the population).
  • Meanwhile, the top five per cent of earners (earning more than £80,000) will be subject to raised income tax.
  • Reintroduce maintenance grants for students and scrap tuition fees.
  • Scrap free schools and grammar schools and oppose attempts to encourage schools to become academies.

Read the Labour manifesto in full here.

Liberal Democrats

  • Vow to hold a second referendum on the terms of a Brexit deal.
  • Keep the UK in the Single Market so they can protect the 'right to work, travel, study and retire' across Europe for British people.
  • Fund more extensive childcare and provide further back-to-work support to reach a goal of a million more women in work by 2025.
  • Push for 40 per cent of board members in the FTSE 350 companies to be women.
  • Hold an annual debate in parliament on where the labour market is lacking or exceeding to identify 'necessary' migration.
  • Offer sanctuary to 50,000 Syrian refugees over the next parliament and re-open the scrapped Dubs child refugee scheme to admit 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children.
  • Commit to spending two per cent of GDP (Gross domestic product) on defence and maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent.
  • End the pay freeze for NHS staff, reinstate student nurse bursaries and promote evening and weekend hours for GPs, as well as online, phone and Skype appointments.
  • Raise the tax-free national insurance threshold to the income tax threshold (£11,500).

Read the Liberal Democrats' manifesto here.

Click on the following to read the Green party, UKIP, SNP and Plaid Cymru's manifestos.


Opening and closing times of polling stations

Juggling work and your daily commute on election day is no mean feat. So, you'll be happy to know the polling stations will be open for you to vote from 7am until 10pm.

If you're in the station, or in a queue outside, at 10pm, you will still be allowed to vote, according to the Metro.

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The location of your nearest polling station will be on your polling card, which you should have received in the post. If you are yet to receive your card, contact your local authority to find out where to go on election day.

Find out more here.


How to vote

If you've chosen to vote in person at a polling station, and not by post or by proxy, Your Vote Matters has outlined exactly what to expect when you turn up on the day:

  • The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper listing the candidates you can vote for. You may be given more than one ballot paper if there is more than one election taking place in your local area on the same day.
  • Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that no one can see how you vote. Read the ballot paper carefully, it will tell you how to cast your vote. Do not write anything else on the paper or your vote may not be counted.
  • Mark your ballot paper according to the instructions. A pencil will be provided for you to do this, but you may use your own pen if you prefer.
  • If you make a mistake on your ballot paper, don't worry – so long as you haven't already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can issue you with a replacement ballot paper.
  • Fold your completed ballot paper in half, show the back to the Presiding Officer and then pop it in the ballot box.

The result

On Friday morning, we will finally learn the results from 650 parliamentary constituencies across the UK.

According to the Independent, we can expect to roughly know the outcome of the general election around about 4am with a clearer idea at approximately 7am.

Find out the full list of declaration times across the constituencies (based on forecasts obtained from councils) here.

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