Italian government pressed by Amnesty to improve standards in migrant detention centers

LONDON: Britain goes to the polls on Thursday as public discontent runs high over a range of issues.

From the high cost of living and a stagnant economy to a dysfunctional state health system and crumbling infrastructure, some disillusioned voters have turned to the populist Reform Party.

Its divisive leader Nigel Farage, who campaigned for Brexit, is attracting growing numbers of Conservative voters with his promise to “take back our country”.

Opponents have long accused Farage of fueling racist attitudes towards migrants and condemned what they call his scapegoating rhetoric. They say the problem is the underfunding of schools, hospitals and housing under governments on the right and the left, not migrants.

Polls show Farage has a comfortable lead in Clacton-on-Sea – a town on England’s south-east coast where many older, white voters have staunchly backed the ruling Conservatives.

It is unclear how much influence his party will have on winning seats and parliament, although it could be a spoiler by drawing votes from conservative candidates.

Farage, who has lost seven parliamentary campaigns, was the rare party leader not to go to the polls on Thursday. He voted in advance by mail.

All first-time voters in general elections must bring an ID card.

All UK voters had to carry identification on Thursday for the first time in a general election.

The law change requires voters in England, Scotland and Wales to prove their identity from 2023 by showing a passport, driver’s license and dozens of other acceptable forms of ID.

Voters in Northern Ireland have had to show ID since 1985, and photo ID since 2003.

The Electoral Bill introduced by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022 was spotted, ironically, earlier this year when Johnson tried to vote without an ID in a local election in South Oxfordshire.

He was rejected, but later returned with his ID and cast his vote.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey, who has urged voters to take a ‘leap of faith’, is voting in his London suburb.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey voted on Thursday in an election that could see his centre-left party gain a larger share of parliament.

Davey’s Democrats are trying to make inroads in areas of southern England where the Conservatives are vulnerable as their party has fallen in popularity after 14 years in power.

Davey’s stunt-filled campaign was a true advertisement. He fell off a paddleboard into a lake, bravely rode a water slide and bungee jumped, urging voters to “take a leap of faith.”

The party held 15 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons when parliament was dissolved in May.

The party has promised to improve the health and social care system in Britain, including the introduction of free medical care at home. He wants to lower the voting age to 16 and rejoin the European Union’s single market. Davey advocated for water companies to be held accountable for discharging wastewater into rivers.

Davy, who was first elected to Parliament in 1997, greeted members of the media as he arrived with his wife Emily to vote at a Methodist church in Surbiton, a suburb in south-west London.

“It’s a beautiful day,” he said as he left the polls. “I hope a lot of people will come out to vote.”

Communities across the UK, such as Henley-on-Thames, are locked in tight contests where traditional party loyalty comes second to more immediate concerns about the economy, crumbling infrastructure and the National Health Service.

Although traditionally a stronghold of the Conservative Party, the area known for its famous regatta may change its lines. The Conservatives, who took power in the depths of the global financial crisis, have been saddled with sluggish growth, declining public services and a string of scandals, making them easy targets for critics on the left and right.

“This is a blue (conservative) town, always has been,” said Sam Wilkinson, the restaurant’s manager. “My generation won’t necessarily vote blue, not necessarily, but at the same time who else are you voting for?” It’s really awkward. I just care about my kids really, hopefully more money for education and the arts.”

Residents kept coming to the polling station, including Patricia Mulcahy, who is retired.

“The younger generation is far more interested in change,” she said. “So I think whatever happens in Henley, in the country, there will be a big shift. But whoever gets in has a big job ahead of them. It won’t be easy.”

Former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is running for re-election as an independent, posted a photo of himself voting in his north London constituency on Thursday.

Corbyn, a socialist who has won his seat for Labor at every general election since 1983, was suspended from the party and banned from standing by Labor after his leadership faced allegations of anti-Semitism.

He became deeply unpopular after Labor suffered its worst defeat since 1935 in 2019.

Keir Starmer was elected as leader to replace Corbyn and he revamped it and moved it closer to the centre. Pollsters and politicians expect Labor to win the largest number of seats.

Corbyn posted a photo of himself on social media platform X with his right thumb up, saying: “I’ve just voted for an independent candidate in Islington North. I heard it’s good.”

Labor leader Keir Starmer voted on Thursday in an election expected to return his party to power for the first time in 14 years and make him prime minister.

Starmer, who has warned his supporters not to take the election for granted despite polls and politicians predicting a landslide, voted in his London neighborhood.

Pollsters have given Labor a double-digit lead since before the campaign began six weeks ago.

Starmer spent his time touring Britain urging voters to vote for change.

He has promised to revive the sluggish economy, invest in the country’s crumbling infrastructure and fix the broken National Health Service, which his centre-left party founded in 1945.

Scottish National Party leader John Sweeney cast his vote as his party struggles to hold onto a wave of support from rival Labor.

Sweeney, who became the SNP’s third leader in just over a year in May, has tried to bring stability to a party in turmoil.

Scotland’s long-serving First Minister Nicola Sturgeon resigned suddenly last year amid a campaign finance investigation that eventually led to criminal charges against her husband, who was the party’s chief executive.

Sweeney joined the party at the age of 15, and previously led the party from 2000 to 2004.

Sweeney said that if his party won a majority of seats in Scotland, he would try to open talks on Scottish independence with the UK government based in London. He wants to rejoin the European Union and the European single market.

Sweeney went to the polls in Burelton Village Hall, Perthshire, with his 13-year-old son Matthew.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak voted Thursday in a national election that will determine whether he remains in office.

Sunak, who sought to bring stability to the Conservative Party in chaos when he was elected leader in October 2022, has spent the past six weeks trying to convince voters across the UK to give his party another term after 14 years in power.

Pollsters and politicians expect the Labor Party to win for the first time since 2005.

Sunak’s campaign got off to a wet start when he called a snap election in a splash outside 10 Downing Street in May.

He was expected to wait until the fall, when expected improvements in the economy would give him a better chance.

Sunak voted shortly after the polls opened in his constituency in Yorkshire, northern England.

British voters choose a new government on Thursday after polls opened at 7am for a general election expected to bring the opposition Labor Party to power.

Against a backdrop of economic weakness, growing distrust of government institutions and a crumbling social fabric, a fractious electorate is delivering a verdict on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party, which has been in power since 2010.

The centre-left Labor party, led by Keir Starmer, has held a steady and significant lead in opinion polls for months, but Labor leaders have warned against taking the election results for granted, worried that their supporters will stay at home.

For his part, Sunak tried to rally his supporters, saying on Sunday that he still thinks the Conservatives can win and defending his record on the economy.

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