The Tories are out of ideas

06 Oct 2018
Earlier this week, the Tories claimed that they want to build a country with opportunity for all, but in fact their conference showed they have nothing left to offer the people of Britain.
They’ve spent their conference rehashing policies and watering down Labour ideas to present as their own.
They’ve shown a lacklustre and divided front, as they argue among themselves about Brexit and they have failed to address many of the real issues facing our country, our economy and public services.
The last week has shown, as my shadow cabinet colleague Rebecca Long Bailey put it to our own conference, that “we have a government overwhelmed by the process of Brexit, with no idea about the type of country they actually want to live in, [that] on all the big questions — the economy, climate change, inequality, what our working lives will look like — this government has simply nothing to offer.”
When it came to Theresa May’s speech, she offered up pinched ideas and tinkering around at the edges, relying on petty attacks on Jeremy Corbyn to cover up a lack of vision.
While the country is crying out for real change, all Theresa May and her party offer is more of the same.
In contrast to the Tories, throughout our recent conference, we didn’t only expose the Tories’ record of failure but outlined in depth our progressive alternative, based on investment in our future.
In my speech, for example, I showed how cuts do have consequences, especially for all of our safety and that you cannot keep the nation secure on the cheap. The Tories have a lot to answer for in this area.
They have cut over 20,000 police officers and support staff have been decimated. We can see the consequences of this in our communities.
Response times to 999 calls are increasing and violent crime is increasing, but arrests are falling.
Tory austerity has damaged all our public services. All Tory cuts have consequences too. And their police cuts have consequences. You cannot keep people safe on the cheap, but the government is in denial.
In contrast to permanent austerity, Labour will recruit 10,000 new police officers to work in the community.
The government also refuses to accept that their cuts to fire services are responsible for longer response times. They refuse to accept that privatisation and deregulation led inevitably to disasters  like Grenfell. This means that, more than a year later, they have not produced a single initiative that would prevent a repeat of Grenfell.
The government is big on rhetoric about security, policing and borders, as we saw from Sajid Javid and Theresa May’s contributions this week, but talk is cheap. Action costs money.
The reality is that the Tories’ commitment to permanent austerity means that they simply won’t commit to giving our police, fire and rescue service or other public services the resources they need.
And it wasn’t just in this area the Tories were lacking in terms of the policies Britain needs.
When it comes to social care, for example, the Tories announced some emergency funding, but as my colleague Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Social Care, said, “There is a severe crisis in social care caused by eight years of Tory austerity and tinkering at the edges like this is not going to solve it.”
With 400,000 fewer people receiving care under this government than in 2010, funding such a small number of care packages is a drop in the ocean, especially consider the chronic underfunding of our NHS from the Tories.
We need to address the underfunding that leads to services failing too many people, both here and in other areas, and that is why Labour will rebuild social care services, starting with an extra £8 billion across a Parliament to start to ease the crisis, to lift care quality and ensure more people get the support they need.
When it comes to the housing crisis, securing the future of our NHS, ensuring education for all and many other areas, it is only Labour that is offering new ideas about how to protect our public services and offer hope of a better future.
This programme is fully costed and is based on understanding that investment in the economy — for example in transport and infrastructure such as in communications networks and the green jobs of the future — will help achieve robust and sustainable economic growth, which Tory austerity has failed to do.
Labour is setting out not only how we would protect public services but how we would rebuild our economy by investing in it.
Whatever the Tories say, austerity is not and has never been an economic necessity. It is a political choice made by the Conservatives to hack away at our public services and communities, leaving the  majority worse off while gifting huge tax cuts to big business. And as long as we have a Conservative Prime Minister, we’ll never see an end to austerity.
With the Tories looking as divided as ever, we need to ensure that as many people as possible turn towards Labour as providing hope for the country.
The polices outlined at our conference showed Labour is strong and we are ready to govern. We have a determination to take the fight to the Tories and to work together to put Jeremy Corbyn into 10 Downing Street.
In contrast, this week the Tories have shown they offer no answers, no ideas and no hope for communities held back for too long.
As John McDonnell put it this week, “as the Tories sink into a pit of bitter infighting, we mustn’t allow them to take the country down with it.”
But we also need to be clear that, after eight years of failing Britain with their ideologically driven austerity, the Tories are still trying to cling to power and they, alongside their allies in the British Establishment, will do everything they can to keep Labour out of office.
The contrast between Labour and Tory values has been clearly illustrated by the two weeks of conferences. It is only Labour that can transform Britain to work for the many not the few.

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