The Youth Vote UK - November News Digest
The US Presidential, House and Senate election results
On the 3rd of November the US election took place. The Democratic candidate, and former vice President, Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump to become President-elect. Biden won 306 of the electoral college votes and also won the popular vote by nearly 7 million votes. Biden also managed to flip five states that Trump had won back in 2016, those being: Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated on the 20th of January 2021. You can see our blog post on youth participation in the 2020 election by following this link: https://www.theyouthvoteuk.com/post/youth-participation-in-the-2020-u-s-election
Along with the Presidential election the elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate took place. The US has a bicameral legislature which is made up of a lower chamber, the House of Representatives, and an upper chamber, the Senate. The Democrats won a majority in the House with 222 (-9 compared to 2016) to the Republicans 209 (+10). The Senate results are as follows: Democrats have 48 seats whilst the Republicans have 50. However, the Senate race is not over as there will be a special runoff election on the 5th of January 2021 to decide the two senate seats in Georgia. This runoff election is taking place because none of the candidates in either seats were able to receive 50% of the vote to win. The results of this runoff will be significant as if the Democrats are able to win both seats then the Senate would be 50:50. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who would preside over the Senate, could then cast a tie-breaker vote, meaning that the Democrats would hold a majority in the Senate.
Jonas Volkwein (Head of Policy and News Analysis)
The Exit of Dominic Cummings
On the 13th of November the Prime Minister’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings dramatically left Downing Street by the front door, clutching a cardboard box. Cummings was a contested figure across British politics. His roles in the Department for Education, leader of the Vote Leave campaign and until now as the PMs top adviser, had come under criticism by many. His unusual approaches, clashes with senior civil servants and even threats of breaking international law, were becoming too hard to swallow for many Conservative MPs
During the first national lockdown, Cummings had come under heavy criticism for breaking lockdown rules. This was defended by himself and the Prime Minister as ensuring the safety of his family. However, this did not prevent protest and social media campaigns calling for his removal.
It seems now that after consistent pressure from the public and Conservative MPs, Boris Johnson has attempted to ‘clear the air and move on’ with the removal of Cummings from his most senior staff.
Sam Ward (Policy and News Analysis Associate)
COVID-19 Vaccine Progress
While we have all had to adapt our lives greatly due to COVID-19 this year, it now looks as if an end may be in sight thanks to developments in vaccination programmes. Three separate vaccines, the Pfizer/BioNTech vacccine, the Moderna vaccine and the Oxford vaccine were shown to be adequately effective this month and are set to be rolled out as soon as possible across the globe. On the 2nd of December, the UK government became the first country to authorise the Pzifer vaccine, and the government plans to start rolling out vaccinations as soon as the week commencing the 7th of December, with 800,000 doses due in the coming days.
Despite the good news, the government faces issues on the road ahead. Mass vaccination on such a scale is unprecedented, and Pfizer must be stored at -70 degrees, making it logistically difficult to transport over and to store once it has arrived in the UK. The challenge is now on for the government to successfully roll the vaccine out nationwide and get Britain back to some form of normality.
Fran Robson (Policy and News Analysis Associate)
Inquiry into Air Pollution
Never before in British legal history has air pollution been found to be a cause of death. This could all be about to change. An inquest is to be opened into the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah who died of acute respiratory failure in February 2013, to determine if air pollution was a severe causative factor. She lived by the busy South Circular road in London, therefore the coroner will investigate as to whether toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide led to her respiratory failure. It could highlight government authorities’ failures to tackle dangerous air pollution and essential to the development of human rights, for example, to breathe clean air. The World Health Organisation estimates there are 4.2 million deaths every year worldwide as a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution.
Matthew Esam (Policy and News Analysis Associate)