7 Days Remaining

Tuesday 18th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

The Conservative record in office is one of disaster for this country – and Labour's policies are consistently popular. We need to get the message out

WE HAVE 50 days until the country goes to the polls in an early general election.

That means 50 days to win a majority in favour of halting the disastrous course the Conservatives are charting out for Britain.

Theresa May’s logic is obvious. She knows she has a tiny majority in the Commons and this could cramp her style as she seeks to use Brexit negotiations to bargain away workers’ rights and control over our own economy in return for access favours for the City of London.

She is acutely aware that Labour, many of whose MPs have spent most of the last 19 months publicly attacking their own leader and whipping up non-existent scandals to undermine him, trails in the polls and is seen as unacceptably divided by much of the population.

May is already claiming a democratic mission — fulfilling the will of the people as expressed in the EU referendum — which only a re-elected Tory government will undertake.

This will be the narrative from Downing Street. But they must not be allowed to get away with it.

The Conservatives have presided over the longest fall in living standards for over a century. Wages have been falling for a decade and are not projected to rise in real terms until 2022.

On their watch poverty has soared. Foodbanks, barely a feature of the economic landscape before 2010, handed out over 1.1 million emergency food packages last year, even more than in 2015.

Nearly one in three children live in poverty, with half a million more kids in absolute poverty than when the Tories entered office. The number is still rising.

Precarious employment and super-exploitation are becoming the norm: the number of zero-hours contracts is more than five times higher than it was in 2010.

To crown this glorious record, Britain piled on more debt in the first three years of Conservative rule than Labour managed in 13 years in office from 1997-2010.

The Tories’ reputation for economic competence rests on nothing but bluster and the connivance of a cynical mass media in the pockets of the rich.

Labour’s policies are far more popular: polls show people want higher taxes for the wealthiest, public ownership of rail, and no private-sector involvement in the NHS, for example.

Labour’s recent policy blitz — pledging pay rises for millions, more money for carers, free school meals for all and forcing tax transparency on big corporations — showcased a succession of practical, costed and vote-winning proposals.

So the party should be able to win. But it will not be easy.

It is not only the Tories who will try to make this a vote about Brexit — for their own respective purposes the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party will do the same.

But if the election is fought on that issue, the left will be split down the middle — and any party that gets painted as championing the losing side in the referendum rules itself out of office.

And the threat a socialist-led Labour poses to the Establishment is very real. The vicious wall-to-wall media war on Labour will reach fever-pitch over the next few weeks, and we cannot count on serially disloyal Labour MPs to rally behind Corbyn as we approach the finish line.

Our best hope is the size of our movement — the country’s half a million Labour members and millions of trade unionists.

Corbyn won’t get a fair hearing on the BBC or in the press — but we can do our bit to ensure he gets a fair hearing in our workplaces and on our streets, at the school gate and down the pub.

Division and bickering are luxuries we cannot afford. The left must throw all its energy into a Labour victory. There are no alternatives.