“The choice is clear – we can either take action to protect future generations, or allow the Tories to help fuel our planet’s destruction.”Jeremy Corbyn
Labour’s campaign is off to a flying start writes Matt Willgress
This General Election campaign and the immediate period preceding it has been marked by the Prime Minister getting in trouble every time he meets a member of the public, whilst at the same time being elusive in terms of policy commitments on spending, tax and the economy.
In stark contrast, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s team have been busy announcing a range of policies that can rebuild and transform Britain, whilst at the same time clearly exposing the Tories record, illustrating effectively how and why the Tories can’t be trusted.
The clear message of Labour’s campaign is that only a Jeremy Corbyn-led Government can bring about real change, and transform our economy to protect people, planet and public services.
Alongside this, as shown by just a couple of examples below, Labour is exposing how Tory cuts have consequences, damaging our public services and society.
Specifically, to mark Bonfire Day, new analysis revealed that the central Government grant to fire and rescue services has seen a real terms cut of £314m or 27% since 2015/16.
The figures show that as a direct consequence of this response times have also gone up. The most significant increase has been in ‘other outdoor’ category with responses to fires taking 1 minute and 28 seconds longer than in 2009/10.
This week Labour also revealed the scale of Tory damage to the NHS, with new data obtained through FOIs exposing a huge increase in the number of cancelled operations.
Last year, 78,981 operations were cancelled. These were either classed as urgent or were elective operations cancelled at the last minute – either on the day the patient was due to arrive in hospital or after they had arrived.
The number of operations cancelled because of staffing issues and equipment failures have each increased by a third in two years. Last year, 10,900 were cancelled because of staffing issues and 4800 were cancelled because of equipment failures.
Labour linked this clearly to the record of failed Tory austerity, namely that there are currently over 100,000 staff vacancies in the NHS, with shortages of 10,000 doctors and 43,000 nurses.
Labour then is making it clear that whatever the Tory spin, this general election is about the future of the NHS and all our public services.
As the election campaign goes on, the true nature of whose interests the Tories stand for is also becoming ever clearer.
First, we saw the news that the Conservative Party manifesto is being written by a corporate lobbyist for Facebook, Amazon and Caudrilla. As Jon Trickett put it “If ever we needed another reminder that the Tory Party represents the privileged few, this is it…It’s an outrage to democracy that the frackers, the tax dodgers and the zero-hour exploiters will have the biggest say when it comes to Tory policy.”
Then this week – as the ‘Morning Star’ has covered– we have seen the Tories continue to come to the defence of a candidate who said people on benefits should be “put down.”
It’s pretty hard to imagine something that could more easily reveals their complete and utter contempt for the less well off.
Whilst the Tories show contempt for ordinary people, Labour is outlining a policy agenda that will improve the lives of the 99%.
A crucial plank is linking these proposals to improve peoples’ living standards with action to tackle the climate emergency.
Climate change is a massive concern to the majority of voters, and Labour is hammering home how our Green Industrial Revolution will be a central motor of plans to transform our country and economy, using public investment to create good, clean jobs, tackle the climate emergency and rebuild held back towns, cities and communities.
As part of this, this week Labour announced “Warm Homes for All.” This radical, ambitious programme would be the largest scale upgrade of UK housing since post-war reconstruction.
And as part of it, by 2030, Labour will create 450,000 jobs by installing energy saving measures such as loft insulation and double glazing, renewable and low carbon technologies in almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes.
The UK’s housing stock is among the worst insulated in Europe, and this illustrates clearly why positive proposals to solve the two biggest crises we face – the living standards squeeze and the climate emergency – are two sides of the same coin.
This is because electricity and heat use in buildings is the biggest source of emissions in the UK – 56% of the total. And at the same time, it also costs households billions over the odds in heating bills and pushes 3.5 million households into fuel poverty. According to National Energy Action, last year around 10,000 winter deaths were caused by ill health linked to cold homes.
As Rebecca Long Bailey put it, “Warm Homes for All is one of the greatest investment projects since we rebuilt Britain’s housing after the Second World War,” and “will also create hundreds of thousands of good unionised construction jobs, bringing good work back to areas of the UK the Tories abandoned long ago.”
And as Jeremy Corbyn added, “At this election, the choice is clear – we can either take action to protect future generations, or allow the Tories to help fuel our planet’s destruction.”
I couldn’t put it better myself!
- This election diary will appear regularly in ‘The Morning Star.’ Matt Willgress is the editor of Labour Outlook and national organiser of the Labour Assembly Against Austerity.