Corbyn, by contrast, leads a Labour Party that is ready to govern in the interests of the many, writes KEN LIVINGSTONE
THE success of Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn-led general election campaign in defying the odds and denying Theresa May a majority continues to transform the political scene in Britain, and nothing illustrated this more than the Queen’s Speech this week. Key plans of the Tory manifesto were nowhere to be seen.
From scrapping free school lunch meals, to the hated “dementia tax” — which has been replaced by a review — to scrapping the winter fuel allowance for millions of pensioners through means-testing, to the proposed return of the barbaric practice of fox hunting, Theresa May simply can’t be confident of getting most of their manifesto through Parliament.
These retreats can be added to the list of backtracks and U-turns Jeremy’s Labour has forced from the Tories since he became leader from his position of outright opposition to austerity.
As Jeremy said in his response to May, the Queen’s Speech represented “a threadbare legislative programme from a government that has lost its majority and apparently run out of ideas altogether.”
The fact that the Tories cannot put forward legislation concerning some of their most reactionary policies will be welcomed by millions of people across the country.
However, we also need to be clear that the Tories are still committed to permanent austerity, and every day they stay in office is bad for the living standards of the majority and a disaster for our public services that have already been starved of vital resources by seven years of ideologically driven austerity.
As shadow chancellor John McDonnell said in response to his Tory counterpart Chancellor Philip Hammond’s set piece speech earlier in the week: “The message remains the same — austerity will continue. The Tories have learnt nothing from the general election and the last seven wasted years of economic failure.
The Conservatives have no understanding of the depth of suffering, stress and insecurity their long austerity regime has caused.”
Continuing Tory rule means rising inflation, with the effects of low pay and falling real incomes going to hit even more families every month Tory rule goes on.
The six million workers earning less than the living wage; the millions of people in insecure work; those subject to the benefits freeze and the five-and-half million public servants living with an unfair pay cap literally can’t afford more Tory austerity, which will also mean poverty and inequality continue to spiral.
Additionally, the Tories still haven’t moved away from dangerous threats of proposing a rigid and reckless Brexit that would turn Britain into a bargain-basement tax haven, which would further threaten millions of people’s jobs and living standards, plus the future of our public services.
Labour, in contrast, has a coherent alternative economic strategy, based on investing in our future and renewing and rebuilding Britain’s infrastructure and industry. And it is only Labour that has the correct approach of putting jobs and the economy first when it comes to the issue of Brexit negotiations.
Labour won almost 13 million votes at the election because its manifesto offered hope and opportunity for all and real change.
As Jeremy put it this week, Labour stands clearly for “a way for the public to really take back control so that our key utilities and our railways are taken into public ownership and are run in the interests of the many, not to pay the dividends of the few.”
As we look to the weeks and months ahead, we should be clear that Labour’s support didn’t peak at the general election, as opinion polls since have shown, and Jeremy is right to say Labour is now a government in waiting with a fully costed programme ready to be implemented.
The Tories have run out of positive ideas and just offer more of the same, while Labour, in contrast, offers concrete, positive policies that will create at least a million new good jobs and ensure strong and sustainable economic growth.
With the government likely to face crisis after crisis both in terms of Brexit negotiations and the austerity agenda — as shown this week by the High Court judgement that the benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against single parents with children aged two or under — we can be sure therefore that Labour will provide a strong and effective opposition in Parliament. But we also need to increase the pressure on the Tories’ weak and wobbly government at all levels, from local and community campaigns against cuts to national mobilisations from key campaigns against the government’s reactionary agenda.
Concretely, this means that on July 1 we need as many people as possible marching on the streets of London against another five years of a Tory government committed to austerity, cuts and privatisation.
This is one of the most important demonstrations I can remember in my lifetime and one that can directly impact on the national political scene. Be there and keep up the fight for a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government that can transform Britain.
You can follow Ken on www.twitter.com/Ken4London and www.facebook.com/KenLivingstoneOfficial
The Tories Out demonstration called by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity will form up at noon at BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA, then move off at 1pm.