Election 2017 YP comment: Who do you trust in this ultimate test of leadership?

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THE GENERAL Election today is not the poll that Theresa May envisaged when she took her party, and her country, by surprise when she chose this moment to seek a strong personal mandate of her own.

After all, the supposedly defining issue – Brexit – has been eclipsed by domestic issues and then, tragically, the Manchester and London terrorist atrocities and the resulting ramifications over national security.

Who will you be voting for today?

Who will you be voting for today?

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Yet, as Britain heads to the polls, the defining issue remains one of leadership – and whether Mrs May, or Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, should be entrusted with the keys to 10 Downing Street and all the responsibility that this entails on our behalf.

Both have offered radically different agendas and approaches – the choice could not be starker – as voters weigh up five fundamental issues which are crucial to the future prospects of this county and this country. They are:

* Which leader do you trust with Britain’s national security interests? Mrs May or Mr Corbyn?

* Which leader do you think will achieve the most advantageous Brexit deal? Mrs May or Mr Corbyn?

* Which leader do you believe will preside over a new era of economic prosperity for all? Mrs May or Mr Corbyn?

* Which leader do you want to overhaul public services and protect society’s most vulnerable? Mrs May or Mr Corbyn?

* Which leader do you trust to champion Yorkshire and deliver the Northern Powerhouse? Mrs May or Mr Corbyn?

There will be those readers who take the view that they’re electing an MP to act on their behalf and that they do wish to reward those candidates, from across the political spectrum, who have made a difference. This is their prerogative. Equally, they may wish to endorse a fresh candidate who, they believe, will be a stronger ambassador for their local area. This, too, should be respected.

However there is little room for sentiment. With the next Government due to start formal negotiations with Brussels in 11 days’ time over the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union, this is, in fact, a defining election in which the national interest, and the recurring issue of leadership, supersedes local loyalties.

These talks will shape the future of the economy and international trade relations. The stakes could not be higher. If Britain maximises its negotiating hand, the UK will maintain its status as a global powerhouse. If not, the fallout will impact upon every section of society.

Even before the two acts of mass murder that were perpetuated by Islamist extremists who deplore the fact that Britain is a living, breathing democracy where voters elect the government of the day, the responsibilities facing the next Prime Minister could not be more invidious or onerous.

Yet here are the leadership quandaries facing the nation. Mrs May’s credentials, substantial before she called the election seven long weeks ago, has been exposed by her decision to go back on her word and call a snap poll, a lacklustre campaign and legitimate concerns about the future of public services.

That said, the furore over her social care reforms is indicative of a leader who accepts tough decisions will need to be taken by the next Parliament because Britain can’t afford to keep writing blank cheques.

However, while Mr Corbyn appears to have exceeded Labour’s low expectations, he has failed to prove that Britain will be safer under his leadership – or that businesses can afford to pay for the tax rises which are intended to fund his ambitious policy programme which has enamoured so many younger people. And he has still been shunned by 80 per cent of Labour MPs who refused to support his leadership last summer because they had so little faith in him.

Today’s election will effectively be determined by the votes cast in dozens of marginal constituencies said to be too close to call. They include many seats in this region, hence why both parties launched their national manifestos here and why both leaders have been such frequent visitors.

The outcome here does matter and will make a difference. Yet it is not for The Yorkshire Post to tell readers how to vote – they are more than capable of coming to the right decision in the national interest.

They do so in the knowledge that this is the ultimate test of leadership – a tried and tested Theresa May or a leap into the unknown with Jeremy Corbyn – and they know that they can count upon this newspaper to challenge the next Government to honour its commitments to Yorkshire.

Read more...

James Reed: Risk-averse campaign has failed to tackle the issues
Jayne Dowle: Your vote is vital in these troubled times
Colin Mellors: Moment of truth arrives for polls in battleground seats
YP Comment: Every vote will defy terrorists. The true price of democracy
General Election 2017: Live news & reaction as Yorkshire and UK goes to the polls
Election 2017: How you can watch the action and when the key announcements are likely to be made
General Election 2017: Who fared well and who could not wait for it to end?