Are you unsure who to vote for? Simon Burgess writes..
Why I will vote Labour
‘Anyway, here are my reasons for voting Labour, and it is all about their policies. But first, a quick word why you shouldn’t consider voting Tory or LibDem…
We’ve had nine years of Tory and LibDem austerity, that has seen the very wealthiest get even richer, as well as allowing the biggest companies and polluters to avoid paying tax. And all the while, we have witnessed the biggest ever borrowing by any British government ever.
Indeed, the Tories have borrowed more in nine years than every other government in history combined. In nine years. And this during austerity that has seen public services slashed; the NHS brought to its knees through underfunding; police, fire and nursing numbers cut. Libraries closed down. A record number of foodbanks opened and used; record numbers of homelessness; record numbers of in-work poverty (that is people who are in full-time employment, working every hour they can, and still having to claim benefits and use foodbanks); we’ve heard headteachers break down as they tell us about children scavenging in bins in school for an old apple core, because they are that hungry.
Given that services for us have been slashed and borrowing is at an eye-watering record level, you might wonder where the money has gone.
The very richest have taken it. We have seen the biggest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich that we have ever seen. And all done by the Tories AND the LibDems (the LibDems voted through every austerity measure while they were in coalition government, and now they have the nerve to try and make us forget that it was them – and in particular Jo Swinson – who voted with the Tories every time).
There have been 130,000 preventable deaths as a direct result of austerity. And austerity was a political choice, not a necessity. Can you imagine if a terrorist organisation had killed 130,000 people? We would hunt them to the end of the earth, but because it’s a government we shrug our shoulders and get on with it.
And here’s another thing. Doctors have stated that we have seen the rise in diseases not seen since Queen Victoria was on the throne, namely scurvy and rickets. These are diseases of poverty. And they are back, in 2019, in the world’s fifth biggest economy. Labour wants to change all of this, and give us a fairer more equal society. To do this, they have produced the most progressive manifesto seen since the war. Here are some of my favourites.
Labour will save the NHS
They will properly fund the NHS. They will recruit more doctors and nurses, and reinstate the nursing bursary (meaning nurses getting paid whilst they are training). Labour will make prescriptions free for everybody.
Labour will introduce free NHS dentists for basic dentistry (free annual check-ups and fillings etc, but cosmetic work will still have to be paid for). If the Tories get back in (and they might with a minority government, propped up by either the LibDems or the DUP) the NHS will no longer exist in five years. The Tories are already having meetings with American pharma companies about selling them the NHS. Labour, by comparison, will introduce a government-run pharmaceutical company to make its own generic drugs, which it can then sell to the NHS at cost. How sensible is that?
Oh, and they will scrap all hospital parking fees. Labour’s plans for the NHS are much, much wider and, if that interests you, I will send you more details. I just didn’t want to add to what will be a long email – because, as I say, Labour’s manifesto is so jam-packed with good stuff, which I also want to quickly touch on.
Labour will introduce a National Education Service
Just like the NHS, but for education: Labour will introduce a National Education Service, giving people free education from cradle to grave. Why is that important? Well, it is vital for a country to have a well-educated workforce, of course, but for me it is more personal. It will mean Poppy and Clemmie will be able to go to university (or do an apprenticeship) without being saddled with crippling debts (university leavers currently are in their early 40s by the time they have paid off their student loans). But it is also for me, and people like me, who find that their industries just no longer exist. If I was in the UK now, and under a Labour government, I would without a doubt go back to university at night school to retrain.
How good would that be?
Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution
As any scientist will tell you, we have 11 years left to reverse climate change (after 11 years it will be irreversible, and so will get worse and worse). Labour recognises this and will create a Green Industrial Revolution, which will in turn create thousands of jobs. Labour will introduce:
· 7,000 new offshore wind turbines
· 2,000 new onshore wind turbines
· Enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches
· New nuclear power needed for energy security.
They will introduce a new National Transformation Fund, where businesses (existing or new) can borrow to help them become carbon neutral. Labour has 30 specific Green policies which will ensure that by 2030, the UK will be carbon neutral. Again, if you want to know more about these, I’m happy to tell you.
Renationalise rail, mail, water and energy
Privatisation has been an utter failure. Though it isn’t often reported, we – the taxpayer – still pay the same out of our taxes for these services, only all the profits now go into the hands of the very wealthiest, rather than back into the public purse. Read that again: we still pay for it. For rail, for example, the government pays companies to run the services.
I think we have a collective belief that when it is privatised that the government no longer pays anything. It is untrue. We actually pay more now than when it was nationalised. But big companies, with fat-cat directors, walk away with all the profits, whilst giving a worse service than when we owned it. (And, by the way, when you have an integrated transport system that is cheap and reliable, it also helps with your Green Revolution).
The Financial Times yesterday suggested that with renationalisation the country will save around £13 billion a year. And that’s money we can put back into the betterment of society.
Free broadband for all
Every household, every business, across the country will get high-speed broadband, absolutely free of charge. Again, instead of paying Richard Branson £50 a month, you will get better broadband, for free. This is transformative, because the internet now is a vital service that we all use daily.
Labour has also pledged to…
· Scrap Universal Credit, which has blighted the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society
· End homelessness, which is at epidemic proportions. Why? Because of austerity. And I tell you what else, there will be millions of people (me and Debbie included) who are one accident away from losing everything. People don’t choose to live on the streets. Maybe they lost their job (and, under Universal Credit, they are entitled to nothing). The Tories and LibDems have taken away the safety net, leaving millions terrified for their future. And here’s a sobering thought. One homeless person dies every 19 hours in the UK, and they are dying because they are cold, hungry and utterly destitute. It is shameful that in the world’s fifth biggest economy that we allow this to happen.
· Build 100,000 new council houses a year.
· Introduce a National Care Service. Older people will no longer have to sell their homes to go into residential care. People with mental health issues will be properly cared for. As a society, we will look after each other.
· Re-introduce Sure Start, meaning every baby born will have a good start to their lives. It was a much-loved scheme. The Tories abolished it.
· Scrap Zero Hours Contracts. Imagine trying to build a life for you and your family when you are on a ZHC, never knowing how many hours you will work that month. These are no better than slavery.
· Introduce a national minimum wage. £10 an hour, guaranteed. Hang on, you might say, we can’t just give people money. We won’t. The employer will, which then stops the burden on the welfare system. For example, JD Sports, say, pay the minimum wage. That employee then has to claim Income Support, because they don’t earn enough. Essentially, the tax payer is subsidising big businesses and paying their employees for them. Introduce a national minimum wage, and the employers will have to pay what they should pay. When I worked in Scotland, one of the first things we did was introduce the national Living Wage. Over 50 people immediately stopped claiming Income Support. And you know what else happens when you introduce a minimum wage? It boosts the economy, because people have actually got a bit of cash in their pocket to spend in the high street. Everybody wins. Apart from the very richest.
Honestly, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, but know this is getting long. As I say, the Labour manifesto is the most exciting, progressive manifesto seen since the second world war (the Tory manifesto, by comparison, consists of ‘Let’s get Brexit done’, and very little else). So let’s move on to what I imagine your first thought is, namely…
“But there’s no magic money tree”
Even if you like the above policies, you might question how we are going to pay for it. Everything has been fully costed and is available alongside the manifesto, in what is called the Grey Book.
However, put simply, 95% of people will not pay a penny more in tax.
The average wage in the UK is a little over £23,000 a year. So, if you are on £30,000, you are doing OK. But you won’t pay any more. Those earning 40, 50, 60 or £70,000 are doing pretty nicely. But still, they too will not pay a penny more.
If you are on over £80,000 a year, and therefore in the bracket of the top 5% of earners, you will pay more.
Labour has introduced an online tax calculator so people can see what they will pay. If you are earning £82,000, for example, you will pay an extra £8.33p a month. And I do not think that is bad. The price of a couple of coffees from Starbucks.
Even if you are paying an extra £8.33 a month, also remember that you will not have to pay for private medical insurance, you will not have to pay for prescriptions, you will not have to pay for broadband. So will they really feel the pinch?
If you are a billionaire, you will pay more. And big companies will have tax loopholes closed, meaning they pay what they should have been paying for the last 10 years. (As an aside, it is absolutely true, and maddening, that companies like Vodafone or Starbucks pay less in tax than somebody who cleans their offices. That is just not fair, and it will stop.)
Labour will increase corporation tax to 26%. The Tories generally, and Boris Johnson in particular, have repeated again and again that this rise will make the UK’s the highest corporation tax in Europe. This is a lie.
France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium and Greece (just off the top of my head) all have corporation tax of 30% or over.
Holland, Austria and Spain all have 25% corporation tax, with Italy on 27%.
Raising corporation tax to 26% is not outrageous, and it is not unusual. It is right, and it is just.
There’s also some pretty clever levies. For example, to pay for free broadband for all, the big tech companies (Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon) will all pay a specific levy, which will then be used to pay for free broadband for all. Why is that clever? Because these companies will also benefit from it. If everyone has free broadband, more people will use Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter.
But what about Brexit?
In my view, Labour has the only sensible Brexit policy. The Tories want to crash out with no deal (which would be catastrophic). The LibDems want to revoke Article 50, which means they ignore the referendum completely, and with it the views and wishes of 17.4 million people.
Labour have said they will, within six months of taking power, negotiate the best deal they can and put it back to the people to decide: Remain in Europe or leave with the deal presented to them.
In the first referendum, most people (including me) didn’t really know what we were voting for. This time we will.
The media might scream that they need to know how Jeremy Corbyn will personally vote. I don’t understand this position. He has said he will remain neutral. There is nothing wrong with this. (And, by the way, he voted Remain last time, and in terms of numbers of rallies and speeches, he was the third most active MP before the last referendum, so his views are pretty clear.) I would say I don’t know why the media don’t acknowledge this, but I do, as we will see soon…
But I just can’t vote for Corbyn
This is the one that really saddens me. We don’t see it in the media, but he is a genuine, compassionate man, full of integrity, who has stood up for the most vulnerable in society his entire life. He has stood up for gender equality. He has stood up for the lesbian and gay communities. He has fought racism of every kind (including anti-Semitism) his entire life. Indeed, his mother was involved in the Battle of Cable Street, which saw people trying to stop Hitler-supporting Oswald Moseley and his fascists marching through London’s east end in 1936. There is a video of Jeremy Corbyn speaking about that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Qj-wtH5CBc
He also has a 40-year voting record proving he has always fought against racism and anti-Semitism. I’ve pasted some highlights of his voting record below. The media won’t tell you this, but you need to know it.
He is not an anti-Semite. He is kind and he is decent.
(By comparison, and in the last 10 years alone, Johnson has called gay men “tank top wearing bum boys”, he has called Muslim women “Letterboxes” and “bank robbers”, he has called black people “picanninies” with “watermelon smiles”. He said that the city of Liverpool was full of people always wanting to be the victims (about Hillsborough). He has been sacked twice for dishonesty. He is a serial adulterer. When he became Foreign Secretary, MI6 demanded that his role of overseeing them be quietly moved to the Prime Minister (Theresa May at the time). When he left the Foreign Office, those roles moved back. MI6 were concerned that he not be allowed to know any secrets.) ß You read hardly a word of this in the media. But they are quick enough to tell you how awful Corbyn is…
If Corbyn is so nice, why do the newspapers say how horrible he is?
Our whole system, the economy and the rules, have been rigged in favour of the billionaires and the millionaires who serve them.
Over 90% of the British media (newspapers, TV and radio) is owned by five people. They are all billionaires. There is a good, easy video about this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbqhTKgv0hg&feature=youtu.be
These billionaires will have to pay more tax, and have their tax loopholes closed. They don’t want that. As another quick aside, it’s hard to imagine how big a billion is. Here’s a nice way to picture it. If I were to put a pound note in your hand every second, continually and with no sleep, to get to a million would take 11 days and 13 hours. To get to a billion would take 31 years.
Labour have also said they will implement the findings and recommendations of the Leveson Enquiry (this was the thing that closed the News of the World, when Murdoch journalists hacked into the phone of a murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler).
These press barons don’t want this, and they don’t want to pay their fair share in tax. Put bluntly, these billionaires piss on us and use their newspapers to tell us it is raining.
The truth is, it is not Corbyn they dislike, it is Labour policies. I guarantee you that if Corbyn stepped down tomorrow and I became leader of the Labour Party, those newspapers would label me an anti-Semite immediately.
They smear Corbyn because of Labour policies. And, being the decent man he is, he refuses to get drawn into these arguments. All he cares about is people, and putting policies in place that will benefit the many, not the few.
(And ask yourself why, given his truly awful record, why the newspapers don’t say more about Johnson’s dishonesty, or about his affairs… it is because he is in the party that will look after the super-rich.)
But why is he so unpopular with normal people?
He isn’t. He is massively popular. While Johnson gets greeted with boos and jeers wherever he goes, Jeremy Corbyn has people chanting his name. It’s become a bit famous actually, and here is an explanation of when it started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4_Yrwb4rh8
The polls tell us that Johnson is more popular. But here is the truth: polls are designed to shape public opinion, not reflect it.
Corbyn is massively popular. He is loved. And he is so because the policies he wants to introduce scare the billionaires senseless. He offers real hope and all for the many, not the few. Here he is entering the BBC in Sheffield this week before the leaders’ debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwb_rm8EFxA
Your vote is your vote, and I won’t tell you which way to vote. But I did want to give you something that the media will not tell you and that is, on the 12th of December we have the chance of electing a party that will reshape how the country works, so that we have a fairer, more decent society.
A better world is possible.’