We’re ready to rebuild a better, fairer Britain
17 Jun 2017Poilitical pundit after political pundit, and newspaper after newspaper claimed over the last two years that if Labour went into a general election with Jeremy Corbyn as leader and an unashamedly progressive manifesto that we would face electoral wipeout.
It now looks like Theresa May was among those who believed them.
But that’s what Labour did. In fact, we achieved the most remarkable swing in the opinion polls during the campaign. And we made a net gain of 30 seats.
We achieved a 40.1 per cent national share of the vote, representing a 9.7 per cent increase.
Over three million new voters came to Labour — the largest increase between two elections since 1945. Contrary to the pundits’ prediction, we gained seats in England, Scotland and Wales.
We saw this reflected on election day in my own constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington, where we saw an increase in our majority to over 35,000 and an amazing turnout and level of enthusiasm from young people.
What is so encouraging about these Labour gains is that they were motivated by a message of hope for a better Britain.
We should be clear that they were a direct result of both our progressive manifesto and having Corbyn as Labour leader.
In contrast to our message of hope, the Tories’ campaign was based on the politics of fear and division — including a series of vicious and personal attacks on Jeremy, myself and other members of Labour’s shadow cabinet.
Despite the Tories’ negative campaign, again and again Corbyn’s Labour showed we have a clear programme for government that can bring Britain together and genuinely protect jobs and communities.
As the campaign went on, Labour succeeded in convincing more and more people that by investing in our future, we can ensure strong and sustainable economic growth, improve living standards and provide our public services with the funding they need.
Labour’s policies — a million new jobs through our industrial strategy; a real living wage of £10 per hour; decent homes for all with a million new homes to rent or buy; free education and an end to university tuition fees; moving towards universal childcare by expanding free provision for two, three and four-year-olds; properly funded social care and NHS and protected pensions — chimed with people who have had enough of the idea we can’t build a fairer society.
The end result of this Labour surge was that May was denied a majority, despite having called the election on the basis she would gain an increased majority to provide a mandate for her rigid and reckless Brexit plans.
Now she has had to enter a dangerous coalition of chaos with the DUP, despite their reactionary views on issues such as a woman’s right to choose and LGBT rights.
A government formed on this basis can only be reactionary and can only be unstable, especially with its slender majority.
To put it simply, there is nothing strong or stable about May’s premiership or the Tories being in government.
But while the Tories desperately try to hold their unstable coalition together and work out the basis of a Queen’s Speech which will enable them to cling on to the keys to No 10, too many of Britain’s families are struggling to get by and facing a deepening cost of living crisis.
To give just one example, we found out this week that the cost of basic essentials has risen by 2.9 per cent, while wages stagnate.
There was so sign in the Tory general election campaign or manifesto that they have learnt any lessons from the seven years of failed economic policy that have meant the majority of people are losing out.
More austerity will be bad for our economy, society and public services. The reality, therefore, is that the majority of Britons simply cannot afford more of the same from May.
In total contrast to this, the increase in Labour’s support in recent weeks has been fuelled by hope for a better Britain, for the many not the few, while the Tories have nothing to offer but more of the same.
At a time when May’s government is in total disarray, if they will not act then they need to stand aside and let a Labour government build a better Britain for everyone.