Get ready for polling day, as election campaign reaches its climax

on 21 June 2024

It has only been a month – though it seems like an eternity – since Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stood outside 10 Downing Street in the pouring rain and called a general election for Thursday 4 July. It has been what feels like a very long campaign, but we can now say that we will know the result by the end of next week.

The first thing for you to do right now, if you are planning to vote in person at a polling station, is to check that you have photo ID ready (e.g. a passport or driving licence). As Boris Johnson found out at the English local elections last month, even former prime ministers will get turned away if they haven’t brought photo ID with them.

Don’t assume the photo ID you have will be valid; you can check online. If you don’t have anything, you have until 5pm on Wednesday 26 June to apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate from your council in England, Scotland or Wales. If you live in Northern Ireland, you have a few more hours, until 11.59pm on the same day, to apply for an Electoral Identity Card.

It is now too late to register to vote or to apply for a postal vote, but if you are not going to be able to get to your polling station between 7am and 10pm on polling day, Thursday 4 July, then you have until 5pm on Wednesday 26 June to apply for someone to vote on your behalf, called a proxy vote. This option is only still available in England, Scotland and Wales as the deadline has passed in Northern Ireland. Your proxy will need to go to your polling station and vote on your behalf on the day.

There is still more than enough time to get in touch with the candidates standing in your constituency, and we hope that you do. You can use websites like Candidates Portal to find out who is standing in your area. We have blogged previously with ideas about how you can challenge candidates on the issues that matter to maternity services. Please read that post and get in touch with them – with polling day visible on the horizon, this is the moment when you have maximum influence over candidates. Be sure to use it.

We posted previously too about what is in some of the main parties’ manifestos. At the time, we left out the Scottish National Party and Reform UK as they had not yet published theirs. They now have, so after reading what comes next in this post, please read that earlier post to remind yourself of what the others are promising.

The SNP manifesto calls for a jump in spending on the NHS in England, which would automatically trigger more money for the NHS in Scotland too. The party also wants to see England match higher NHS pay in Scotland, which would also automatically trigger additional funds for the Scottish Government. The party also wants to see a pushback against the role of the private sector in the NHS, and repeal of recent anti-trade union laws that the RCM and other unions have campaigned against.

The Reform UK manifesto commits to substantial cuts in Income Tax for frontline NHS staff, which would include midwives and maternity support workers. They also signed up an idea, which the RCM has been pushing, for tuition fee debts to be gradually written off in exchange for working in the NHS. Reform UK says that after 10 years the debt would be fully written off.

Between this post and the earlier post, we hope we have given you a good briefing on what a wide range of parties are committing to in their manifestos on maternity care and other issues affecting midwives, student midwives and MSWs.

How you vote is up to you. We won’t encourage or discourage you to vote for or against any candidate or party. That’s your call. But we are unapologetic in encouraging you to use your vote. Different parties offer different solutions to the problems and challenges we face. They are not all the same.

Some people have already now voted by post, but the overwhelming majority have not yet chosen. Results are therefore still up in the air. We cannot know for absolutely sure who will stand outside 10 Downing Street at the end of next week as the Prime Minister of this country, whether they do so in pouring rain or brilliant summer sunshine. We do know that your vote can help decide.