Labour’s manifesto: a triumph of leadership and hope over cynicism and despair
As I reflect upon the Labour Party manifesto, I am struck by its breadth and scope. It is the most transformational programme offered by any political party, certainly in my lifetime and possibly since the post-war Attlee government. It offers real solutions to the problems faced by millions of people and it’s fully costed.
For students weighed down by loans and their parents worried about how they’ll pay them back, or afford a home of their own, there is hope. A promise of lifelong learning, within the grasp of all, offers a route out of poverty for many and, for business it holds out the prospect of a skilled and capable workforce, fully updated, motivated and productive.
For those unable to afford the rent or who have given up hope of ever owning a home, Labour’s housing policy offers a pathway to safe and secure housing. What’s more, the £10 living wage means they can afford to live with dignity, pay the bills and enjoy their leisure time.
Gone are bedroom taxes and cuts to disability benefits. Instead Labour wants to ensure schoolkids eat together, free of charge and their parents can afford to work, without shelling out their hard earned wages on expensive childcare. There will be a national education service and the NHS will be saved from privateers and chronic under-funding.
There will be huge investment in our infrastructure, modernising the economy and creating real jobs, not zero hours contracts. At a stroke Labour has produced a manifesto for the many and 95% of us will not have to pay a penny extra in income tax, VAT or national insurance contributions. It will be those who have the broadest shoulders who will be asked to pay a little more. They can consider that their subscription for living in a decent society.
There will be borrowing, but not to bail out reckless bankers, who then hand over their windfalls in huge bonuses to city fat-cats. This will be borrowing, at record low levels of interest, in order to to invest in our futures.
No political party’s manifesto has come under more scrutiny than Labour’s. It is as detailed as it is ambitious. The numbers add up and despite the best efforts of the Tory party and their friends in the media to discredit it, this is patently a vision of a future we can absolutely afford to implement. Indeed for the many living on handouts from food banks, living on poverty pay, those sleeping rough or living in insecure accommodation it’s an opportunity we can ill afford to pass up.
Beyond righting the wrongs of seven years of Tory austerity, Labour’s programme offers genuine hope of a better Britain. It proposes a country where the contributions of everyone are valued, where all children are given a helping hand by the state, which will bend over backwards to help them fulfil their potential. This manifesto offers a future in which the young, middle aged, elderly and those living with disabilities can live their lives in peace and with dignity; regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
What a moving and inspiring vision and it’s all achievable, if we want it. We just have to vote for it. It’s really that simple.
In just two years Labour has been utterly transformed from a centrist party frightened of its own shadow, to one determined to stand up for its values. It’s truly remarkable to reflect on the fact that, prior to the election of Jeremy Corbyn, this is the same party that abstained on the Conservatives welfare bill.
Many questions have been asked about Corbyn’s ability to lead, not by the scores of new members who joined Labour to vote for him I might add. Instead commentators and backbench MPs from all sides of the House of Commons have chimed in to tell all of us that this is a man incapable of leadership.
Words like chaos, nonsensical, dangerous and incompetent have been bandied about with such regularity, they have become part of the accepted wisdom. Every interview Jeremy faces is prefaced with questions of electability and accusations of weakness. It seems in the eyes of the commentariat, the Labour leader is perpetually running to stand still.
Meanwhile Theresa May is allowed, without challenge, to trumpet the words “strong and stable leadership” with a chilling robotic regularity that reminds you of a certain Dr Who villain. This despite an almost invisible campaign littered with gaffes.
Surely Labour’s manifesto deserves to be seen as it really is, a monument to remarkable leadership and a testament to resolute strength and determination. Consider all that Corbyn has been through, ponder the journey from outsider to leader. See how he has grown in such a short space of time.
Imagine the character required to withstand the torrent of abuse and vilification from all directions. What must it take to endure all of that and still emerge victorious from not one, but two leadership contests?
If all Jeremy had managed to do was to hang on to his position, in the face of all of that, that in its self would have been some achievement. However, to have emerged from this baptism of fire armed with such an ambitious programme, backed unanimously by the National Executive and the Shadow Cabinet, is a colossal achievement.
If Theresa May had achieved such a feat for the Tories, you can bet her treatment by the media would be very different to that which Corbyn has faced.
We are just three weeks from the General election and there has never been a clearer choice on offer to the British people. It is a choice between more of the same, a government that enriches the few and makes the many pay, or one which strives to reverse this trend.
We can vote for the status-quo, or we can turn out in our droves for genuine change, it’s in our hands. However, that’s not all. On June the 8th voters have the chance to elect a man who has walked through hell and high water to get where he is. They can vote to bring to power a tireless campaigner for fairness, who has succeeded in rising to the top of a movement, never once abandoning his values or losing his temper, despite relentless provocation. Above all, this is someone who has delivered exactly what he promised he would do.
That sounds like effective leadership to me. It sounds like someone I can trust. Given all Labour has come through to deliver this prospectus of hope, in the face of cynicism and despair, I wouldn’t bet against one more inspirational victory.
On June 8th I urge you all to give them the opportunity to deliver for the whole country.