THIS week, the Tories claimed that they want to build a country that works for everyone, but in fact their conference showed they have nothing left to offer the people of Britain.
They’ve spent the week rehashing policies and watering down Labour ideas to present as their own. They’ve shown a lacklustre and divided front and failed to address the real issues facing our country.
When it came to Theresa May’s speech for example, she finally recognised that the energy market was broken, echoing the speech from Ed Miliband the Tories mocked as Marxist not so many years ago.
But her response again failed to show a clear way forward.
As Rebecca Long-Bailey MP commented: “It is unclear if responsibility for action has again been passed to Ofgem, with no commitment on when or how action will be taken,” and “yet again the country is left confused about whether the Prime Minister will honour her election promise.”
In contrast to the Tories, Labour has been clear that we would introduce a clear emergency price cap while taking the bold measures needed to reform our broken energy market in the long run such as bringing energy back into public ownership.
This is just one area that illustrated how the Tory approach couldn’t be more different from the message of hope Labour presented at our conference last week and promoted during the general election campaign and have continued to campaign on day-in, day-out since.
Throughout our conference we didn’t only expose the Tories’ record of failure, but outlined in depth our progressive alternative, based on investment in our future.
In my speech on “protecting our communities,” for example, I showed how cuts do have consequences, especially for all of our safety and that you cannot keep the nation secure on the cheap.
The Tories have a lot to answer for in this area. Recently, the chair of the National Police Chiefs Council warned that that counter-terror funding to police forces was to be cut by 7.2 per cent over the next three years.
Home Office documents reveal that the budget for the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism will fall by more than £50m over the next two years.
Furthermore, since 2010, May has been home secretary and now prime minister while the number of police officers has dropped by 20,000 as £2.3bn has been cut from police budgets.
In contrast to permanent austerity, Labour will recruit 10,000 new police officers to work in the community.
Meanwhile, in Manchester this week, Amber Rudd’s speech showed that the Tories still think we can have security on the cheap and have learnt nothing from recent years.
More laws to combat terrorism and violent crime, as Rudd said in her speech, won’t be enough when the Tories are committed to cutting police numbers and budgets further.
Rudd is correct in noting that the public is rightly worried about the growing threats of terrorism and violent crime, but the Tories simply can’t say how cutting police numbers by 20,000 is a way to tackle them.
Rising incidents and new laws both require more resources but their commitment to permanent austerity means that they simply won’t commit to giving our public services the resources they need.
And it wasn’t just in this area the Tories were lacking in terms of the policies Britain needs.
When it comes to mental health for example, they made the welcome and long overdue announcement of an independent review of the Mental Health Act – but far from being better funded than ever before, more than a quarter of CCGs have under-spent their mental health budgets for 2016/17.
We need to address the underfunding which leads to services failing too many people, both here and in other areas.
When it comes to the housing crisis, securing the future of our NHS, ensuring education for all and many other areas, it is only Labour that is offering new ideas about how to protect our public services and offer hope of a better future.
This programme is fully costed and is based on understanding that investment in the economy — for example in transport and infrastructure such as in communications networks and the green jobs of the future — will help achieve robust and sustainable economic growth — something Tory austerity has failed to do.
Labour is setting out not only how we would protect public services but how we would rebuild our economy by investing in it. With a publicly owned engine of sustainable growth — driven by national and regional investment banks — generating good jobs and prosperity in every region and every nation.
After May and the Tories’ disastrous conference this week, we need to ensure that as many people as possible turn towards Labour as providing hope for the country. We are already winning the confidence of millions of voters by promoting our ideas and plans for Britain’s future.
Our conference showed that the Labour Party is stronger than it has been for years and it is advancing in the polls. It was the best-attended conference for years with a mood of unity and determination to take the fight to the Tories and working to put Corbyn into 10 Downing Street.
But we also need to be clear that after seven years of failing Britain the Tories are still trying to cling to power and they — alongside their allies in the British establishment — will do everything they can to keep Corbyn out of Number 10.
The contrast between Labour and Tory values has been clearly illustrated by the two weeks of conferences. Only Labour can transform Britain to work for the many, not the few.
Diane Abbott is MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and shadow Secretary of State for Health. She writes every other Saturday in the Morning Star.
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