It would be unforgivably irresponsible not to vote Labour next Thursday, and not to persuade your friends, family and contacts to do the same. This will most likely be the most important election of our generation. Here’s what’s at stake:
THE PLANET. Labour has a clear commitment to cutting out greenhouse gas emissions. Not just rhetoric, but an actual Green New Deal that invests massively in renewables, electric vehicles, public transport, afforestation and research; a government that doesn’t pander to the fossil fuel lobby and that opposes resource wars; a government that can set an example for the other capitalist countries which have done so much to create the climate crisis and so little to fix it.
ENDING AUSTERITY. Austerity has led to literally tens of thousands of deaths since its introduction. It has deepened poverty and misery. Labour’s unambiguous commitment is to reverse austerity and to properly fund health care, education, housing, disability benefits, unemployment benefits, care for the elderly, and youth services.
BREXIT. Labour’s proposal for resolving Brexit is the only correct one: negotiate a reasonable Brexit deal with the EU that retains customs union membership and preserves workers’ rights; then put this deal to a referendum, with Remain as the other option. This is a fair and mature solution, and neither outcome is disastrous, unlike Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit, which will be a carnival of neoliberalism, deregulation and racism.
THE NHS. Only Labour will reverse the privatisation of the NHS and protect its future. Labour’s manifesto commitments include bringing all PFI contracts back in house, bringing outsourced services back in house, increasing NHS funding by over 4 percent per year, and establishing a publicly-owned generic drug company. By paying dignified wages (and by dropping disgusting racist immigration targets), a Labour government will be able to attract and retain more doctors, nurses and other health workers.
OPPOSING WARS AND EMBRACING MULTIPOLARITY. Boris Johnson is a puppet of Donald Trump, and can be expected to be a MAGA stooge. If the US goes to war with Iran, Tory Britain will join in. Tory Britain will join in the trade war on China (Johnson has already given the US a veto over Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G infrastructure!). Tory Britain will most likely pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement. On the other hand, the Labour leadership and membership are against imperialist wars and in favour of a more balanced, multipolar world. A Corbyn-led Labour government can be reasonably expected to play a helpful role in global affairs.
ENDING HOMELESSNESS. Labour is committed to building at least 100,000 new council homes every year, to introducing caps on private rent, to ending rough sleeping within five years, to vastly increasing support for the homeless in the meantime, and to turning the council funding taps back on so that local councils are able to build homes and provided decent accommodation to those that need it.
FIXING EDUCATION, YOUTH SERVICES AND CHILDCARE. The Labour manifesto promises to: abolish university tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants; bring academies and free schools back into public control; provide up to six years of free adult education; provide 30 hours of free pre-school education a week from the age of 2; make free school meals available to all primary school children; rebuild youth services and re-open youth centres; invest in, and secure the long-term future of, libraries (800 of which have been closed down since 2010).
REDUCING POVERTY. Labour are pledging to introduce a minimum wage of £10 per hour for everyone aged 16 and over. The manifesto also promises to set up Universal Basic Income pilot. Labour will ban zero-hour contracts and mandate that all employees have full employment rights from day one on the job. Most importantly, Labour’s policy is to repeal all anti-trade union legislation, promote union membership, and strengthen union rights.
TACKLING DISCRIMINATION. The Tories have consistently played the divide-and-rule game in order to push their pro-rich agenda. If they get a majority and a hard Brexit, this will only get worse. They’ll deepen the hostile environment and make life increasingly miserable for immigrants and non-white people. Labour will end the hostile environment, will end ‘no recourse to public funds’, will introduce measures to educate people about the legacy of colonialism, will actively address institutionalised racism, will celebrate the contribution of immigrants to British society. Labour in power will champion the specific needs of women, of disabled people, of LBGT+ people.
And what’s the alternative? What happens if Boris Johnson gets a majority? We’ll be subjected to a Tory Brexit, meaning that Britain comes out of the EU customs union and goes running to the US for a free trade deal. That inevitably means more privatisation, more deregulation, more austerity, more attacks on trade unions, more attacks on workers’ rights. It will be the beginning of the end for the NHS. The hostile environment will get even more hostile. Meanwhile Britain will be pulled into ever-closer military and political alignment with the US – with potentially disastrous consequences for the planet in terms of war and climate change. In summary, everything will get worse.
Britain NEEDS a radical Labour government. What it’s offering isn’t a revolution, it isn’t socialism, it isn’t working class power and social ownership of the means of production. The current balance of forces simply doesn’t allow for that. But Labour’s manifesto represents a significant transfer of wealth and power from rich to poor. It’s a comprehensive package of reforms that will improve life for millions of people, will help save the planet, will contribute to the creation of a multipolar world, will empower millions, and will boost the unity, experience and fighting strength of working class and progressive forces in Britain.
Of course, the struggle doesn’t end with the elections. If we win, we’re going to be faced with an angry and desperate capitalist class that will stop at nothing to undermine us. There’ll be many more battles to be fought. But it’s far better to be in that situation than to not be in that situation! And whatever happens, in the course of struggle we’ll learn from our experiences.
So let’s go all out to get a radical Labour government.