The UK General Election on the 12th December 2019 has to be one of the most important elections of our lifetime. Under the current Tory leadership, we are engulfed with austerity, discrimination, child poverty and insecurity, not to mention the absolute mess which is Brexit. Whilst sifting through the party manifestos, I was disgusted (but not surprised) with how the Conservative Party flooded their pledges with Corbyn-bashing fake news, whilst giving extremely vague and insincere policy descriptions of their own. With a glorious 107 paged document with egalitarian, universalist policies, the Labour party definitely have my vote in two weeks, and here’s why:
Brexit is the most explosive policy on the government agenda and has been since the EU referendum all those many moons ago. Despite voting to leave with a marginal 52% of the vote, it is clear that in the 3 years since the referendum, the British people have had a change of heart. In 2016 we voted to Leave, but since then, the misinformation and lies have come to the surface, and it is clear that what we will lose is far greater than what we will gain. Opinion polls have shown that, when asked the question ‘In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the EU?’, the ‘wrong’ vote has been highest since June 2018, and has been steadily inclining.
Conservative and Labour have very different stances on Brexit as stated in their 2019 manifestos: the former is hasty to decide on a deal and ‘get Brexit done’. Johnson’s Brexit deal was a product of parliament suspension and takes us out of the customs union, leaving our trade deals unstable and unforeseeable. The manifesto makes tenuous links between Brexit and ‘unleashing Britain’s potential’, glazing over the fact that small business will be hit the hardest by this deal, placing even more families in economic insecurity than already under the Tories.
Corbyn’s Labour party has been known for taking a reasonably neutral stance on Brexit, something that is vital in order to fully represent the electorate’s views and take into account the changing demands since the EU referendum. Labour pledges to take the final decision back to the people; a referendum between a fair trade deal and the option to remain will ensure that all those who regret voting Leave in the first place can right their wrong.
Brexit is a life-altering decision made on behalf of a population that will hardly see the adverse effects. I was 16 years old during the EU referendum and was not able to express my desire to Remain, alongside many other young people my age. Now, at almost 20 years old, Brexit needs to be opened up to the newly enfranchised electorate to make a more informed decision.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that it was Labour who founded the NHS in the first place; the 1948 Attlee Government introduced the National Health Service to exercise the universal right to health and treatment. It has been since the UK has been under Tory leadership that the NHS has experienced mass privatisation, cuts, increased prescription charges and plummeting wages and support for NHS staff.
Corbyn has recently unveiled that Johnson’s Brexit deal is putting our beloved NHS on the negotiating table in trade deals with the US. This is unacceptable and just shows how a Conservative government prioritises saving money for the rich at the expense of life saving services for the average citizen.
Now, I am not saying Labour are not entirely innocent. The graph below shows us the extent of private providers in the NHS since 2006 to 2016: whilst Labour increased privatisation from 2.8% to 4.6% in 4 years, the Conservative coalition and majority governments dragged this figure up to 7.6% in 5 years, and it is continuing to rise dramatically.
Labour seeks to increase NHS spending by 4.3% per year, whilst the Tories pledge to increase it by £33.9 billion with no outlined time frame. When we consider how NHS funding has been stagnate since the Tories assumed office in 2010, I find it very difficult to believe this policy. It is even more dubious when we recognise how prescription charges have been steadily increasing whilst funding remains relatively the same. Where is this money going?
For all those dependent on the NHS, vote Labour. They are the only party who we should trust with our public services, especially something that literally saves lives. The Conservative government will continue to privatize, limit spending and cause even more poverty in Britain.
Poverty and inequality
The UK has experienced mass austerity in recent decades, with an estimated 14.3 million people are in poverty in the UK, 8.3 million of which are working-age adults, 4.6 million are children and 1.3 million are of pension age. Despite Tories priding themselves on the fact that unemployment is at an all-time low and that wages have been rising faster than prices for 20 months, it is the nature of employment and working conditions that make poverty even more prevalent than before. An estimated 7 million Britons are in some form of precarious employment, like zero hour contracts or those with extremely poor working regulations.
Labour pledge to abolish zero hour contracts, to give everyone the right to guaranteed hours and to raise the minimum wage for all jobs to £10 per hour. Labour’s socialist stance gets to the root causes of poverty, rather than settling for satisfying statistics like the Tories. Labour have also pledged to increase rights for maternity and paternity leave, the strength of unions and to end food-bank Britain. The Tories have made no explicit policy pledges to tackle the austerity they created. Surprise, surprise.
I think the most divisive issues in modern politics is taxation policy. As usual, the Conservative pledge to lower taxes with the argument to stimulate the economy. Labour, on the other hand, want to freeze taxes for those earning under £80K a year, and then increase for the top 10% of earners. This allows our public services to be adequately funded without putting pressure on our poorest households. We should be holding large businesses accountable for their wealth through increases in corporation tax and redistributing income of the top 10% of earners back into our society so everyone can benefit.
This is also when the Tory manifesto really doesn’t add up. How are you supposed to put £30 billion into the NHS when the government’s income through taxation will be reduced? Not only does this catch the Tories in a lie but shows how the only way we can combat inequality and keep our public services alive is through Labour’s model of redistributive taxation.
Why you need to vote Labour
As well as everything already discussed, if you have any morals, you cannot justify voting Tory. Borris Johnson has called Muslim women who wear the Hijab ‘letterboxes’ and gay men ‘bumboys’. If you vote Conservative fully aware of these comments, it is tenuous to complete omit yourself from contributing to racism and homophobia. The usual argument is that people vote for particular policies, usually associated with taxation, and ignore the morality and social policy of politicians and leaders. It is really important to look at the bigger picture when voting in a General Election: not just how things will affect you, but the whole of society, not just one singular policy pledge that has no guarantee of being implemented, but an entirety of a manifesto.
No politician is perfect, most are liars and I don’t particularly like Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. But I would much rather have an altruistic, ideologically strong-minded and communitarian Prime Minister than a racist, homophobic millionaire who spends more time attacking the opposition than standing by their own policy pledges.