Saturday, 31 August 2019

Why I will be Voting Labour

I remember the dark old days of 1980s Britain when the northeast of England was forgotten by the Tory government. Unemployment was sky high. The few available jobs paid badly. Crime soared, poverty soared, services were terrible, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Wealthy southerners can’t grasp how horrified us northerners are by the creeping return of those dark days. My people deserve better than this. All decent people do.

When I was growing up, we had nothing. It was a genuine struggle to know where the next meal was coming from. We couldn’t go to nice places – and nice things were for wealthy people in other parts of the country. I remember when I left school and couldn’t get a job, couldn’t get a home, despite being one of the most gifted kids in my school. And I remember how Blair was prime minister at this point, and things were getting better for some in my area, but not for single young men like me.

One of the many reasons people called Blair a red Tory was that although he helped some, he did not represent everyone – and I was cast aside.

Now I see a leader in Jeremy Corbyn who genuinely would represent the working class and give the underclass a fair shot. And even though my situation is not as dire now, this matters so much to me. I don’t want our kids to go though what I went through. And nor should you.

Our kids deserve their free school meals (just like they deserved the milk Thatcher stole) and their schools should not be sold to the highest bidder. They should not amass huge debts for a higher education or see aspiration as unrealistic.

Our workers deserve a living wage and a full time contract. They deserve four extra bank holidays and rights at work. They deserve the right to sue for mistreatment or wrongful dismissal, regardless of the length of their employment.

Our pensioners deserve their winter fuel allowance. They deserve social care. They deserve to keep their house. They deserve dignity in old age. These people fought for our country and many of their peers died for our freedom.

The disabled deserve better than humiliating ATOS assessments, the bedroom tax, loss of benefits, loss of support, loss of life. Yes, loss of life. An estimated 130,000 vulnerable people have died due to Tory cuts, according to academic studies, and many more were left destitute, including wheelchair users and the mentally ill.

Parents deserve better than stagnating wages, cuts to tax credits and child benefit. They deserve better than unaffordable rent and unattainable mortgages. They deserve better than skipping meals to ensure their kids don’t go hungry.

Britain deserves better than food banks, shoddy services, and exploitation from the elite. We deserve better than the destruction of the NHS, a police force unequipped to deal with terrorism, a fire service unequipped to prevent avoidable deaths which have increased 21%.

At present, many of our public services (like rail and energy) are run by foreign governments who are profiteering from our shoddy services and pumping the profits into their own services. It’s time we put a stop to this. It’s time we prioritised high quality service and kept the profit for ourselves. Ask yourself, why can’t our government run our services, when other governments run their own services and our services? Is nationalisation really such a crazy idea?

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has given every indication he is more right-wing than May or Thatcher, his agenda even more extreme. But in Jeremy Corbyn we see someone who is the opposite in every way, who is passionate and sincere, who has been on the right side of history throughout his career, who gives us hope.

Corbyn was arrested for protesting apartheid when the Tories were calling Mandela a terrorist. He was campaigning for gay rights when it was unfashionable to do so. He brought republicans and loyalists to the negotiating table during the IRA conflict, and he was awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2013. Corbyn warned us that deregulation of the financial sector would lead to economic recession. He warned us the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would destabilise the middle east. He warned us that police cuts would leave us vulnerable to terrorism. He was right. Every. Single. Time.

Almost everyone agrees the establishment is corrupt, that ordinary people are not being represented. Well, finally we have a chance to take another direction, to take on the bankers and the media moguls, to create a system that works for everyone. Take a look at the countries with the world’s best living standards, best public services, highest social mobility, best records on human rights, lowest levels of corruption – they are the left-wing democracies. The Labour Party is offering a system proven to work – and considered normal throughout northern Europe and beyond. When the press tell you otherwise, whose interests do you think they’re representing: Yours or the billionaire press barons’?

The UK is currently charging corporation tax at 19% which is lower than most G20 countries. Could this be why the media are so keen to keep the Tories in power? I would suggest this is what corruption looks like. The number of Tory tax dodgers is simply unacceptable, including, allegedly, the Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson who is reluctant to disclose his finances.

The Tories are handing out sweetheart deals to their corporate mates left, right, and centre. Labour would put a stop to this. They’d crack down on tax dodging and make the elite pay their way. If you think such steps are unnecessary or impractical, consider this: The Tories have borrowed more than every Labour government combined because they otherwise could not pay their bills, due to sharp tax cuts. While the public is undergoing austerity, the rich are getting richer, and our debts are mounting. Wages fell by 10.4% in real terms for ordinary people under Tory rule. What happened to ‘We’re all in this together’?

I don’t want five more years of austerity, police cuts, fire service cuts, NHS cuts. I don’t want the remains of our public services to be sold to the highest bidder. And the left-wing are not exaggerating or scaremongering when we say the future of the NHS is at risk. Prominent Tories have stated their desire for full privatisation for many years and Alexander Johnson is keen to charge for access to the service. Every chance they get, the Tories sell off another piece of our most prized institution.

Even former Conservative Prime Minister John Major said the NHS is under threat because of the ‘pythons’ Michael Gove, Alexander Johnson, and Ian Duncan-Smith. Doctors and nurses are hugely concerned, and I think we should take their concerns seriously. I do not want my children to grow up in a country where the poor get sick and die like they do in some countries.

And it is not just doctors who are concerned. Prominent police officers continuously warned the government that budget cuts left the country at increased risk of terrorism. The previous Prime Minister Theresa May accused them of scaremongering and crying wolf. Recent events have shown their concerns were justified. And it is heart-breaking to think children have lost their lives because of her arrogance.

I find it horrifying many would consider voting for a party that could be so reckless with our safety. A party so inhumane it wants to bring back fox hunting, scrap free school meals, scrap the winter fuel allowance, even take grandma’s house. Prior to 2010, I really thought Britain was better than this, that we were moving onto a more compassionate kind of politics. I sincerely hope we soon will.

The Tories are promising to take us down the same old path. Labour is offering a different direction, and I’m not na├»ve enough to believe they will work miracles or be perfect. Of course they won’t, but at least they will sincerely try to improve things, and are offering a strong plan. The Tories didn’t bother to cost their last manifesto, let alone offer anything resembling hope. It is galling that many still back them, but people can change their minds.

A general election is surely coming in 2019 and all we have to do is vote for our best interests.

Vote for investment in our services. Vote for people before profit. Vote for free school meals. Vote for free higher education. Vote for a £10 an hour minimum wage. Vote for one million new houses. Vote for four new bank holidays. Vote for the police. Vote for the fire service. Vote for the NHS. Vote for hope.

Vote Labour.

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