Our choice on June 8 is between a rigged economy for the few or a better Britain, writes Diane Abbott
THE longer this general election campaign has gone on, the clearer it has become that the Tories are doing everything they can to avoid scrutiny of the failures of seven years of austerity when it comes to living standards and our public services.
This is hardly surprising when all major projections are that wages are going to fall in the years ahead and a cost-of-living crisis is approaching.
But despite the Tories and their supporters in the media trying to deflect discussion away from their record of failure, with less than a week to go until the election, it has become crystal clear to more and more voters that the very future of the NHS and our schools is at stake.
Ordinary people increasingly understand that, over the last seven years, the public services we rely on have been starved of resources as the Tories run them down and push them into disrepair.
As Jeremy Corbyn put it this week: “Patients are suffering ever longer waits and overcrowded wards; those who need care have been left without it. Children are crammed into overcrowded and crumbling classrooms. It has to change.”
Also this week, the reasons why this has to change were made clear, when Labour published research highlighting the threat to our schools and hospitals posed by five more years of the Conservatives.
The study warned that if the current rate of deterioration continues, our health and education services could face huge problems.
When it comes to the NHS and social care, we could see 5.5 million people on waiting lists in England, 1.8m more than at present, and almost 1.5m older and vulnerable people with unmet social care needs.
When it comes to education, we could see 650,000 primary school pupils crammed into classes of over 30, and families left almost £450 worse off per child as a result of the Tories’ plan to scrap free school meals for 1.7m children.
One of the reasons why Labour’s support has grown throughout this campaign is that we have not only repeatedly exposed the Tory record of failure but also outlined how a better Britain is possible.
This is particularly the case when it comes to our public services.
A Labour government will invest £37 billion in our NHS and take one million people off the waiting list by the end of the next parliament, while investing £8bn in social care over the course of the next parliament and laying the foundations of a national care service to integrate health and social care.
In education, we will cap class sizes at 30 for five, six and seven-year-olds and provide free school meals to all primary school children.
In further and higher education, we will lift the burden of debt off students’ shoulders.
These measures aren’t just good for public services and our quality of life, they will also benefit the economy.
The same can’t be said of the Tories’ plans.
The Tory manifesto launch plunged pensioners and working people into even greater insecurity, as the document threatened to take away winter fuel allowances, ditch the triple lock on the value of the state pension and force the sale of homes to pay for social care costs.
It is clear the Tories are planning five more years of austerity for our public services, with no guarantee to not raise taxes for 95 per cent of taxpayers.
Contrary to spin from some in Tory-supporting parts of the media that they have broken from austerity, Philip Hammond’s Budget this year, and the Tory general election campaign have confirmed that they plan unrelenting austerity for five more years if re-elected.
And if Theresa May wins, Britain will be subjected to the grimmest of hard Brexits, with all the harsh consequences for jobs and the economy. In contrast to the Tories, Labour is committed to reversing years of neglect of public services and real investment in our future — as detailed in our industrial strategy — to boost the economy.
Our policies will create over a million new jobs, upgrading Britain’s economy to ensure it works for the many and not just the few.
As John McDonnell said this week, while we have a fully costed programme to rebuild and transform Britain, the only figures in the Tory manifesto are the page numbers.
This general election campaign has confirmed that only Labour has the capacity to bring Britain together and genuinely protect jobs and communities.
The choice is stark. It is between Labour’s plan to transform Britain for the many not the few, and a Conservative Party that has held ordinary people back and put the wealthy first.
Please do all you can to help the Labour campaign this week.