Election 2017: Polls open as security measures tighten
PUBLISHED: 08:49 08 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:49 08 June 2017
Voters will go to the polls today after one of the strangest General Election campaigns of modern times.
People will go to their polling stations amid heightened security as a result of the terror threat but Labour leader Mr Corbyn said voting on June 8 was a way to “honour the victims of these atrocities” by “showing democracy that will never be cowed by terror”.
Before the terrorist attacks, Prime Minister Mrs May’s campaign had suffered a setback of her own making - with an unprecedented U-turn on a key manifesto policy.
The unexpected proposal to scrap a planned cap on social care costs changed the momentum of the campaign, as almost immediately the polls began to tighten, while Tory candidates found anxious voters raising the issue of what the opposition parties quickly dubbed the “dementia tax” on the doorstep.
Within days the Prime Minister had performed a U-turn, announcing that they would consult on a cap in a green paper after the election - effectively rewriting a central plank of the manifesto mid-campaign.
Despite the setback, Mrs May continued trying to fight the campaign on her chosen battleground of Brexit, using a final message to voters to urge them to back her ahead of the negotiations with Brussels.
She said: “ If we get Brexit right, we can build a Britain that is more prosperous and more secure. A Britain in which prosperity and opportunity is shared by all. A Britain where it’s not where you come from or who your parents are that matter, but the talent you have and how hard you are prepared to work. The greatest meritocracy in the world.”
The Labour leader, who claims to have addressed more than 100,000 people at campaign events, used a speech at his final rally in his north London stronghold to claim he had reshaped British politics.
He said: “As we prepare for government, we have already changed the debate and given people hope. Hope that it doesn’t have to be like this; that inequality can be tackled; that austerity can be ended; that you can stand up to the elites and the cynics.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron urged Labour supporters to vote tactically to keep out the Conservatives.
He said: “We will stand up for you on Europe, on schools and hospitals and to stop the heartless dementia tax. So stand up and make your vote count for the Liberal Democrats today.”
The opinion polls continue to suggest a Tory lead, although the scale of the advantage in recent studies has ranged from a single point to a double-digit cushion for Mrs May.
The weather is unlikely to prove too much of a deterrent to voters, although rain is forecast to move north through the UK during the course of the day.
Election expert professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said unless there was a major storm which disrupted transport links, turnout was unlikely to be affected: “We live in a country where a bit of drizzle is commonplace.”
Just two voters were waiting for the polls to open in Hunstanton. While Hunny wasn’t exactly sunny, officials said it was too early to say whether the weather would dampen people’s enthusiasm to vote.
First through the doors at 7am on the dot was Wendy Rose, 69. She said: “I’ve got a hospital appointment. I am keen as well.”
Asked where she was placing her cross, she added: “Conservative. I’ve always been true blue.”
Another female voter wasn’t so sure. She said: “I don’t know how I’m going to vote. I always used to vote Liberal and SDP. I used to like David Owen and David Steel but I don’t know now.
“It would be awful if that horrible man got in. I’ll maybe vote tactically, Conservative.”