For some people this election is about Brexit, or Red vs Blue, or even just an elaborate and expensive game. It is a chance for Lib Dem gains, for the SNP to call for independence, and Barbour-wearing Tories to celebrate a new era of cruelty. But for many this is election is about more than politics or entertainment, it is much more serious than that. For much of society, the threat of chants of ‘five more years’ will strike fear into hearts, despair into minds and shatter the last dregs of hope for those on the brink. It is an election that Labour simply must win; peoples’ futures depend on it.
Britain has suffered for nine years of Tory rule. In that time poverty has become a fixture of our communities, where homelessness is rife, and hope is rare. People no longer blink when regaled with stories of previously unimaginable cruelty. Show someone a story of a diabetic pensioner dying in a Job Centre after being declared fit for work and they will show you an article on starving children stealing from classmates in order to eat. People are forced to choose between food and heat, while schools are moonlighting as laundrettes and foodbanks for their pupils, and the sick are worked to death. When David Cameron sold the idea of a ‘Big Society’ is this what the electorate voted for? As Ian Lavery said in Durham this weekend, if we cannot feed our children what kind of a society are we? Poverty is a political choice and Labour has rejected it.
Labour’s response to this has not been to engage in a ‘project fear’, it has been to offer hope to millions, to attempt to show that there is another, better way. The Labour Party’s policies are not just lifechanging, they are world-changing. The pledge to transform our economy to protect the environment while creating a million ‘green’ jobs, will not only offer many a route out of poverty through work, it will attempt to save our planet and limit the number of climate refugees. A green industrial revolution is where socialism meets environmentalism and it is incredible.
The Party has pledged to end in-work poverty, to end rough-sleeping, and to stop poverty pay. They will create a National Education Service that gives people a right to education without the worry of crushing debt and will tackle pay discrimination based on age, gender, race or sexuality. Our public services which have been privatised for profit at the expensive of the people will be returned to the public, their rightful owners. They will make sure people work to live, rather than live to work. Finally, Labour will halt the NHS’s privatisation and protect it from being sold to American corporations. They will ensure that it remains free at the point of use and expand this to dental care. Labour’s proposals do not offer a halt to Britain’s decline under the Tories, they promise to reverse it. Labour’s manifesto offers a vison of hope, a Britain we can be proud of.
Some media figures have labelled Labour’s manifesto a class war and they are right, but they are wrong to say that Labour fired the first shot. A class war has been waged in Britain for decades. Poverty, privatisation and austerity are examples of this. Was it not class war when the police charged the miners at Orgreave? Was the poll tax’s disproportionate punishment of the working class not class war? As Grenfell burned and Theresa May fiddled, did it look like a society at peace? It is only called class war when the people fight back and it’s time they did. Labour’s manifesto offers hope for the many, and a reckoning for the few. For some this is a meaningless political slogan, yet for others it is a mantra full of meaning which promises real change, change that will send shockwaves throughout the arenas of the elite. Labour is promising to take on the billionaires, the heartless landlords, the corrupt and the cruel. They are offering to change society and they need your help to do it.
This election offers the opportunity for real and meaningful change. The outcomes for many are life or death, prosperity or poverty, housing or homelessness, hope or despair. This may sound big and it may sound dramatic but the difference between a Labour government and a Tory one really is that stark. This election offers an opportunity to tackle the climate crisis, to end poverty and to really change Britain. The electorate may not get a chance like this again. It must be seized.
So, when you cast your vote this Christmas, think not of ‘leave means leave’, of strong leadership, or of Jeremy Corbyn. Think of the world you will be voting for. Despair and deprivation through the Tories, or equality and compassion with Labour. A vote for Labour is a vote for a better, fairer society, while a vote for the Tories will bring misery upon millions. Vote carefully, for it is not just you who has to live with the consequences.