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It’s Brexit that has won, but it will be the Tories who will let the voters down

Nine years of austerity has devastated working-class lives – we’re about to find out how much worse things can get, writes RUTH HUNT

THE general election result is catastrophic for all those who were clinging on to hope. 

It’s a kick in the stomach for people who have lost loved ones due to austerity. 

For those living in poverty, those with severe disabilities and/or long-term health conditions, it’s a result that brings fear and dread of what is to come.

It is clear as to what went wrong. Jeremy Corbyn should’ve been allowed to stand his ground on Brexit and campaign for a Brexit that protected jobs and the economy as much as possible. 

Instead, for two years a group of Labour MPs continually, loudly and publicly rounded on Corbyn’s Brexit approach, pushing the party into a convoluted position, which attempted to appeal to both Leave and Remain voters. 

For Leave voters this meant Labour broke its promise to them. In return they were given a Brexit option, which was far more confusing than the simple (albeit misleading) messaging from Boris Johnson.

It wasn’t simply a public row on Brexit that appeared in the press, but since Corbyn was elected he has been undermined publicly from within the party, most notably by Chuka Umunna (who left and had the ear of the now deposed Jo Swinson) Tom Watson and from voices outside such as Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair.

This gave the media, in all forms, permission to ridicule Labour and Corbyn. Even the supposedly humorous offhand comments such as journalist Emma Barnett asking Angela Rayner if Labour would “nationalise sausages” would have had an impact.

As well as the almost constant ridiculing or scare stories about Corbyn, far too often the media picked up and promoted stories from Conservative sources, such as the Labour activist who “punched” Matt Hancock’s adviser — which simply didn’t happen.

The push notifications from the online versions of these newspapers were revealed to be overwhelmingly negative stories about Corbyn. 

If you were a reader of these sites, and were constantly being told Corbyn was a Jew-hating, terrorist sympathiser, how on Earth would you want to trust Labour?

Research by First Draft, a non-profit organisation, found that 88 per cent of Conservative adverts on social media were false or misleading in the first few days of December, compared with 0 per cent from Labour.  

This was straight from the Donald Trump playbook. Promote a lie widely and the damage is already done, with a retraction or apology not having the same power as the original lie.

In this general election, Labour was not without fault. For example, the manifesto stuffed full of “retail offers” gave the impression of a long list of “free stuff.” 

It’s all right to be ambitious but when compared to the offer from the Conservatives, many voters didn’t believe it would all be possible without damaging the economy. 

When the Tories revealed their sparse manifesto, Labour should’ve been nimbler and focused on its core priorities rather than diluting the message further.

During the coverage of election night, Andrew Neil spoke to Mark Francois about the responsibility that comes with power. 

He said that with the Conservatives picking up a lot of blue-collar voters, they had better not let them down, as these were people on low incomes, on welfare. 

Such individuals were missing from the Tory manifesto, Neil pointed out. Notably, Francois offered no reassurance other than bland statements and reverted back to talking about Brexit. 

Brexit is going to be a lot more difficult than that three-word slogan, but the only consolation (if I can call it that) is the blame of a damaging, messy Brexit will be at the Conservatives’ door, along with any significant damage to the economy, the NHS, services and jobs.

Also, any pride Johnson has about his victory will be marred because of where his power actually lies. He’s prime minister of a “Little England.” The very powerful result by the SNP, means a second Indyref will be demanded, not requested. The stage is set for a showdown.

For over nine years the Conservatives have systematically destroyed our society. Now that they have a mandate for another five years, with many working-class voters placing their trust in them, we do need to ask how that will be repaid given the decimation of the NHS, social care, mental healthcare, welfare and housing. They’ve got a very divided and unequal society, let’s see how they fare.

It is said when Labour fails to get into power, it’s the most vulnerable who suffer. For now, there are a lot of very desperate people, particularly among those on the very margins of society and they face an uncertain future.

RF Hunt is a freelance journalist and author.

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