Why I Will Be (Reluctantly) Voting Labour

In posting to a right-leaning political blog, it can be assumed that not many heads will be properly turned by my words. Regardless, in an age defined by divisions across the whole of society, it is crucial now more than ever to reach over perceived political boundaries and tackle issues as a collective. Therefore, as a member of the Labour Party, I implore you to cast your vote in favour of the party which has a clear vision regarding the fundamental transformation of the British state and wider society to create better opportunities and living conditions for all. Only a majority Labour government will be able to bring together seemingly disparate sections of society and mobilise resources to the greater good of everyone in society.

No pundit would contest the fact that Labour’s manifesto constitutes one of the boldest and most radical pieces of political thought for several decades. Investment on the proposed scale would truly transform British society and make the UK a champion of left-wing thought on the international stage. The boldest and most important pledges concern the alleviation of poor living conditions for the worst off in society. The pledge to finance the building of 100,000 council houses over the course of a five-year parliament is a massive and necessary shift towards stopping the exploitation of vulnerable individuals by the private sector. In 2017, 16,320 instances of homelessness were as a result of private evictions. By increasing the pool of cheap state-built housing and introducing rent controls which would largely help to prevent situations like these, the party demonstrates how it is conscious of how important the issue of housing is to a significant portion of Britain’s electorate.

More policies which are central to Labour’s proposed left-wing social revolution also involve reducing costs for certain kinds of people who often find themselves cash-strapped. Although not being a key target demographic, Labour’s policies for elderly voters demonstrate compassion and a real desire to improve the lives of all. The establishment of a National Care Service, the abolition of NHS parking charges, and the maintenance of free TV licences for over-75s are all important policies which would improve the lives of older people, with the former policy also being an important step towards properly tackling the monumental issue of social care. Combined with the pledge to reimburse millions of women for the injustice of the Coalition government’s decision to suddenly increase the age at which state pensions could be accessed by women from 60 to 66, the common sense choice becomes obvious. Meanwhile, the alternative for older people is a party which only two years ago seriously considered the introduction of a so-called ‘dementia tax’, only to withdraw it for cynical electoral reasons. It is clear that only Labour can truly be trusted to look after the elderly.

Furthermore, as a young person, it is only natural to be curious and excited about what the two main parties have planned that will affect people in my age group. The promise of a swift increase to the national minimum wage with everyone aged 16 or over being entitled to £10 an hour will help to combat in-work poverty. Millions of people work long and tiring hours every week but still find themselves struggling financially. Employment is not a solution to poverty if wages are not high enough. Labour will help young people and vulnerable workers all over the country with this bold pledge. Also, the broad plans for sweeping nationalisation of key industries will remove private sector bias and preferences from the delivery and quality of key services. Unabashed profiteering will no longer be the central notion governing the ownership and functioning of utilities. Again, Labour’s policies will benefit those who are currently the victims of the free-market system. As a young person, the choice is once again very clear.

However, I must state for the record that my appreciation for the party has waned significantly since the last general election due to a lack of inspiring personal leadership from Jeremy Corbyn as well as the awful handling of a string of anti-Semitism related cases and a shockingly fudged policy on Brexit. Although these issues were arguably endemic even before 2017, over the last few years, they have come to define the party and the succession of lacklustre responses from its leading figures mean that I will undeniably have some moral and ideological reservations when I cast my vote.

Crucially, Labour’s policy on Brexit attempts to appeal to everyone but ultimately does so to nobody. By openly conceding that a supposed deal might involve close alignment with the EU on the single market and customs union level, any result from a referendum between a Labour deal and remaining would be both invalid and farcical. The decision which would be faced by the British public would be between remaining de jure and remaining de facto in the organisation. In an election which is threatening to demolish a bloc of seats dubbed Labour’s ‘red wall’, it should have been obvious to Labour policy formulators that areas of the country where they have traditional support but which are strongly Leave-backing would be where the election is won or lost.

Although the domestic portion of the manifesto would provide veritable and necessary change for the country, further consultation and refinement would be necessary to Brexit policy if a Labour government comes to power in December. While a second referendum appears to be one of the only true remedies to this heavily-entrenched division within politics and society, it should feature a real choice between a relatively clean Brexit and remaining, rather than effectively offering a choice between remain and remain. It is vital for justice and democratic accountability that the people’s voice is truly heard on this issue. 

But this election, although it may not always seem so, is to do with more than just Brexit. In shifting his policy preferences firmly to the right, Boris the Tory party’s blond Brexit bombshell has signalled to moderates in his own party as well as the electorate that he represents more than just a bumbling buffoon and that he plans to shift the domestic agenda decidedly in a direction which will mirror the preferences of the set of leaders which personify the populist wave which has washed over the West over the course of the last decade. By drafting in politicians like Priti Patel and Dominic Raab to occupy high office, as well as offering a cabinet position to Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris has clearly signalled the jarring and nasty policy path along which he plans to lead the country. In contrast, Corbyn’s utilisation of populism is more earnest and is aimed at truly giving voices to those who are currently voiceless. In terms of leadership, only one of the two men who will realistically be occupying Downing Street after 12 December can be trusted.

Furthermore, despite my criticism of Labour’s Brexit policy, the Liberal Democrats undoubtedly constitute the greatest threat to a Labour majority becoming reality, rather than the Brexit Party. In the Financial Times’s Poll of Polls, the Brexit Party’s polling statistics have bombed noticeably over the last couple of weeks, with the key catalyst evidently being Nigel Farage’s confirmation that he would stand aside in the 317 seats which returned a Conservative MP. Their numbers have gone from around 10-11% to around 3-4% ever since this announcement, providing confirmation that the Brexit Party mainly provides an electoral threat to the Conservatives.

Therefore, the onus should have been on the Liberal Democrats to informally back a Labour government in order to secure a final say for the people on Brexit. The reality of a split vote is something that I will personally be confronting in my marginal term-time constituency of Warwick and Leamington. It is more than likely that the Conservatives will have an MP elected as the Liberal Democrats take votes from Labour Remainers so the Labour candidate will be unseated after securing a slim mandate in 2017. Although being principled is a highly admirable political trait, sometimes pragmatism has to reign and the reality stands that the biggest potential obstacle to eventually remaining in the European Union is the Liberal Democrat Party’s failure to appreciate that the only potential Prime Minister who could deliver a result which would lead to the UK remaining indefinitely is Jeremy Corbyn. After all, for those who want a fairer economic system and to remain in the European Union, the only choice at this election should be a vote for the Labour Party candidate in your constituency.

A vote for the Labour Party on 12 December will be a vote for real positive and necessary change. Living standards will be improved for everyone in society while a more progressive and outward-looking focus will be placed at the heart of government with clear long-term planning to secure our economic and existential futures. The alternative would involve increased wealth concentration at the top of society and continued exploitation of those who are worse off. A vote for the Labour Party truly is a vote for the many, not the few.

By L Dearmer

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