Week Five: Which Side Are You On?

7th December 2019

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The final leadership debate in the UK General Election has once again laid bare the question which is at the heart of the election; which side are you on?  That question is not one of whether to leave or remain within the EU.  It is a question of the direction which the country takes after the 12th December.  That is a choice between the continuing chaos, cutbacks and austerity of a Tory government or the prospect of real change under a Labour government.

The bluff and bluster of Boris Johnson continues to attempt to mask the fact that poverty and homelessness have increased over the past decade, the NHS is in crisis and billionaires in the City of London are on the increase.  The Labour Party programme sets out a clear agenda for change which would address these issues, tackle child poverty, invest in industry, peg back the runaway profiteering in the City of London and tackle the issues of climate change.

For Johnson the mantra, Get Brexit Done, has become the hollow cover for a campaign short on any significant ideas for change and in denial about the damage a decade of austerity has inflicted upon working class communities.  Where the Tories do make specific commitments, such as putting more police on the streets or increasing NHS funding, they are usually stealing Labour’s clothes, having recognised that the Labour manifesto has identified key issues affecting the daily lives of people in the UK.

More than actual substance, the Tories have focussed upon a series of smear tactics, aimed specifically at Jeremy Corbyn, such as the anti-Semitism campaign, questioning Corbyn’s ability to secure a Brexit deal and, on matters of national security, branding the Labour leader an enemy of the state.

The Tory campaign has been aided and abetted by the usual suspects in the right wing press and significantly by a distinct bias on the part of the BBC, which has caricatured Labour’s position and colluded in the assertions that Labour’s programme would be bad for the country and the economy.

Inevitably, social media has played a different role and Labour has used this channel to get its message out where traditional media are failing.  Whether this is enough remains to be seen but the battle will certainly intensify in the final week of the campaign.

The latest tactic from the political establishment has been to attempt to undermine the credibility of leaked documents, showing collusion between the Tories and the US in carving up the NHS, by suggesting that they are part of a Russian disinformation campaign.   The intention here is twofold.  The first is to raise questions about the authenticity of the documents and therefore the validity of Labour’s claims.  The second is to imply Labour collusion with an outside State, interfering in a UK General Election.

Consistent with the entire campaign against Labour there is no evidence to back up these claims but they are made, and reported as headline news, in the tried and tested expectation that if you throw enough mud, some of it is going to stick.

The biggest fear of the political establishment and the billionaires which the Tories represent is a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government.  It is not that such a government would be revolutionary.  It would not transfer power from the hands of the rich and powerful and into the hands of the poor and disenfranchised.  It would not initiate State control of the commanding heights of the economy and nationalise without compensation.  It would not even cancel the obsolete Trident nuclear weapons system or withdraw from the equally obsolete and strategically brain dead NATO military alliance.

However, a Labour government would stop the free run at privatisation and profiteering which are characteristic of every Tory administration.  It would constrain the tax dodgers, the dodgy landlords, the low paying bosses and the economic gambling houses of the City of London.  It would shift the emphasis in how the country’s wealth and resources are used away from individual gain and shareholder dividends and back towards collective community investment.

Far from being a manifesto for revolution Labour’s programme is a series of baby steps but steps in the right direction.  They are steps which, if delivered, may just make people realise that more significant change is not only possible but is desirable.  For the political establishment, that is the dangerous thing.

As Labour’s manifesto states, it is time for real change.  It is ironic that whatever the outcome of the vote on Thursday there will be change.  However, only Labour offers the prospect of that change being positive and beneficial for the many, rather than more years of the few having their snouts in the trough at the expense of us all.

A vote for Labour is the only vote that makes sense on Thursday, in order to send out a clear message to the political establishment that we know which side we are on.