General Election 2017: The Time Is NOW

Where is the election campaign?

The Labour Campaign has been building since May’s announcement of the 2017 Snap Election. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry, along with new names Barry Gardiner and Rebecca Long-Bailey, have penned articles in major newspapers and strongly presented the Labour plan for Government. The Labour party have had a united front for most of the campaign with Kinnockite John Prescott joining Corbyn’s Battle Bus for Scarborough, Goole and Hull campaigning. Local Constituency Labour Parties and Momentum have mobilised Labour’s massive membership (the biggest party membership in Europe) with activists canvassing up and down the country. As a consequence Corbyn has effectively changed the narrative from “The Brexit Election” to a clear choice between progressive left-leaning policies and a continuation of brutal austerity.

Most importantly, Corbyn has built and maintained momentum in his election campaign. Labour have promoted progressive policies to working and middle class voters squeezed by the Tories. The release of manifesto policies have been timely and beneficial. Corybn’s harmonious visit to a West London Gurdwara contrasted favourably with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s insults to large numbers of the Sikh community in talking about the consumption of alcohol in a Bristol Gurdwara. The pushing of youth policies prior to the deadline for voter registration: scrapping university tuition fees, restoring maintenance grants and EMA, £10 Minimum wage for over 18s – seems to have paid dividends. Labour’s pledge on FA Cup Final day to reinvest 5% of Premier League TV revenue into lower league football, along with pledges to put fans at the heart of their club and take football back to its working-class roots, was genius. Corbyn’s Twitter account flooded the feed with quotes from football legends and heroes; Brian Clough, Bill Shankley, Alex Ferguson, Sócrates, Mia Hamm, Jose Luis Chilavert, Arsene Wenger and also a notable quote from Harold Wilson, “Have you noticed how we only win the World Cup under a Labour government.” Labour also successfully intercepted and capitalised upon the Conservative Dementia Tax own goal, Labour’s Social Care and pensioner offensive commenced immediately after the release of the Tory Policy and again upon May’s historical U-Turn (the first ever Manifesto U-Turn to occur during a British Election Campaign).

18th April, Theresa May calls Snap General Election. Labour are 22 points behind the Conservatives. An unassailable deficit. Labour’s best hope in the election is to regain the 232 seats won in the 2015 election.

9th May, Labour Campaign officially launched.

11th May, Draft Manifesto leaked. Leaks are rarely positive. If this was a Conservative Party sting or a leak from the right of the Labour Party it horrendously backfired. While Theresa May, Tim Farron, Nicola Sturgeon and the media attempted to use the leak to show in party divisions, the leak in fact continued to build momentum and excitement towards the progressive plans Labour were bringing forward. The leaked Labour manifesto became the talk of the media for 24 hours. Campaign Chief Andrew Gwynee had an opportunity to calmly field questions from most UK news broadcasters on the Draft Manifesto’s “great ideas”; a “Britain for the many, not the few”. The Leak resulted in positive spin with talk of Labour’s policies for Government beginning a week in advance of when they were due to be released.

11th May, Jeremy Corbyn announces that the Labour Manifesto had been unanimously agreed by the Shadow Cabinet, National Executive Committee, Parliamentary Committee of Backbench MPs and Trade Unions. Unity and a vote of confidence from the Labour Party, now it was time to see if the policies would be taken as “very popular” by the public.

16th May. 72 years in waiting, the Manifesto “For The Many, Not The Few” is launched. Widely accepted as one of the most detailed manifestos in a generation. Labour’s Progressive Manifesto was released with all funding sources identified and published alongside the “Funding Britain’s Future” costing document. Thus, all £48.6 billion of Labour’s spending commitments have been explained and accounted for. Conversely, the Conservative Party Manifesto has been published wholly uncosted, as a simple “set of principles”.

Labour have delivered the most progressive and transformative manifesto since Clement Attlee’s 1945 Government which, building on the Beveridge Report, gave us the Cradle to Grave Welfare State that is world renowned. Labour’s 2017 Manifesto has come at one of British politic’s most reactionary times. Since the 2008 Crash, the Conservatives Austerity politics has wreaked havoc on the working and middle classes, squeezing them with brutal cuts to Education, Healthcare and Welfare.

Labour’s Manifesto is strong on Taxation:

  • Labour is the party of low taxes for middle & low earners,
  • No tax rises for 95% of workers,
  • 5 Year Freeze in income tax for ALL earning less than £80,000,
  • 5 Year Freeze on VAT,
  • 5 Year Freeze on National Insurance Contributions,
  • Raise in income tax for top 5% of earners,
  • 45p income tax rate for anyone earning above £80,000,
  • 50p income tax rate for anyone earning more than £123,000,
  • Corporation Tax raised to 26% (lower than 2010 rate of 28%),
  • Tax reforms will raise £48.6 billion per year.

Labour’s Manifesto is strong on Defence:

  • 10,000 more police,
  • 10,000 more security and intelligence agency staff,
  • 3,000 more firefighters,
  • 3,000 more prison officers,
  • 500 more border guards,
  • Commits 2% GDP on Defence,
  • Commits £10 billion for Cyber Security,
  • Commits to the renewal of Trident.

Labour’s Manifesto is strong on Education:

  • Scrap tuition fees,
  • Bring back student grants & EMA,
  • Free school meals,
  • Pledge of £25 billion investment into National Education Service.

Labour’s Manifesto is strong on Health:

  • Extra £37 billion investment for our NHS,
  • Scrap NHS car park charges,
  • Create a National Care Service for social care,
  • Scrap the unfair pay cap,
  • Put safe staffing levels into law.

Labour’s Manifesto is strong on Brexit:

  • Brexit which focuses on jobs and worker’s rights,
  • Guarantee rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK.

Labour’s Manifesto is strong on Housing:

  • Commitment to building 1 million new homes in 5 years,
  • Bring back housing benefit for under-21s,
  • Making 3 years tenancies the norm,
  • 4,000 homes reserved for people with a history of rough sleeping.

Labour’s Manifesto is strong on Work:

  • £10 per hour minimum wage for all over 18 year olds,
  • Ban unpaid internships and zero hour contracts,
  • Creating four more bank holidays,
  • End the public sector pay cap,
  • Ensure workers have security and equality at work.

Labour’s Manifesto is strong on Public Ownership:

  • Railways nationalised once franchise contracts expire (bringing the UK in line with Germany and France),
  • Create a state energy firm,
  • Renationalise Water and Royal Mail.

Labour’s Manifesto is strong on Welfare:

  • Keep the pension triple-lock,
  • Scrap the bedroom tax.

Conversely, the Conservatives Manifesto builds upon the previous 7 years of austerity politics. 7 years which have seen disastrous cuts to the NHS, education system, national defence, plunges in living standards and stagnation of wages. Theresa May’s flagship pledge is that of a ‘Dementia Tax’ which will leave 52% of people facing home repossession on death, May has failed to rule out raising of income taxes to middle and low earners, pledges to scrap Free School Meals in favours of 7p Breakfasts, pledges to scrap the Winter Fuel Allowance leaving 10 million OAPs out in the cold. The Conservative Manifesto and campaign have been utterly shambolic and brought British politics first ever mid-election manifesto U-turn just four days into the manifesto launch. Chaotic and incompetent. The Conservatives have been Weak and Wobbly, not Strong and Stable.

22nd May. Race to Register.

The Youth Movement. The 2012 University tuition fee rise from £3,000 to £9,000 per year went ahead with the blessing of Nick Clegg’s ConDem Coalition irrespective of the mass student protests in the winter of 2012 . The Brexit vote has taken British Youth unwillingly out of Europe while 7 years of Conservative cuts to education and arts funding have left British Youth feeling disenfranchised and unrepresented. Nick Clegg (who stabbed the youth movement in the back via his retraction on a manifesto pledge to freeze University tuition fees) and Ed Miliband both managed to stoke some youth support with Clegg-Mania and MiliFandom in the 2010 and 2015 General Election campaigns. However, neither amassed the support that Corbyn’s 2017 Labour Movement has. After continually being dictated to by the 60+ Middle England voter, this election has presented as the time for the open minded, diverse British youth to stand up and be counted. In the penultimate day before the voter registration cut off 157,400 under 35s registered to vote, on the last day of registration 680,322 people signed up with more than 450,000 under 35. In total 1,049,308 under 25 year olds have registered to vote since the 18th April the date the 2017 General Election was announced. British youth have registered en masse to vote and now must make sure they use their voting power on polling day. While the British electoral system is first-past-the-post and not proportionally representative, every young person’s vote and every one of the 1 million new young voters that have registered can make a difference in marginal and historical swing seats. 59% of 18-24 year old voters support Labour, while 67% of 65+ voters support the Conservatives. However, the 2015 election saw only 43% of under 25 vote contrasted with a 78% turnout among 65+ voters. This election can be won and lost on the turnout of these two groups. The youth vote must be made for Corbyn’s Labour to win the election.

22nd May. Manchester Arena Attack.

The Manchester Arena Attack. A disgusting attack on unknowing, unprovoked, unarmed innocent young civilians. 22 killed. 10 under-21s killed. 59 others injured. This vile and abhorrent attack would seemingly derail Labour’s election momentum which had built swiftly with the race to registration. Campaigning would be paused in order to honour and pay respect to those who lost their lives. More significantly, the environment, context and grounds of the election would usually shift sharply towards anti-immigration rhetoric, stronger immigration controls, “Us v. Them” and other nationalistic arguments. This sort of discussion is naturally better for the incumbent who has the position to take the “Safe and Stable” high ground as the captain of the ship. May had an opportunity to reset the narrative of the election around immigration policy and nationalism, areas in which the Conservatives have historically been strong on and gained support for. May could use this as an opportunity to regain some of the “core” older voters alienated by her flagship “dementia tax” policy. However, the public consciousness and united reaction of Manchester locals has spun the narrative away from immigration towards solidarity and the lack of funding put into the national defence by the Conservative administration. The Conservative Governments cuts to defence have resulted in the cutting of 20,000 police officers, 1,337 firearms officers and 1/3 of police dogs. The Labour reaction to the Manchester bombing has been to reiterate their plan to invest in defence where the current administration hasn’t and assess some of the causes of terrorism; such as foreign intervention. This presented as a risky tactic in the midst of a brutal attack however the public reaction has been seemingly positive with “53% of Brits believing British foreign policy has been responsible, at least in part, for terrorism in the UK” (YouGov Poll).

Corbyn the IRA supporter. The media and Conservative Party reaction to the Manchester attack has been to draw false links of support between Corbyn and terrorist activities carried out by the IRA. Dirty politics. But this is an election campaign. Although there is no need to dispel this as it is a blatant falsity: On 29th November 1994 Corbyn signed a Parliamentary Motion calling a PIRA bombing a murderous, terrorist atrocity.

May 25th. Local campaigning resumed.

May 26th. National campaigning resumed.

May 28th. Corbyn’s Glasgow address. Corbyn speaking in Glasgow announced his angle for Scottish voters, in grouping Nicola Sturgeons Nationalistic obsession with continued Tory Austerity, Corbyn set out the Labour vote as being the only one to end Austerity. On the same day Sturgeon announced openness to SNP “progressive alliance” with Labour at the head. While the SNP’s single policy nationalism is infuriating and bordering selfish in the broader context of the progressive revolution this General Election offers, Labours stance towards the Scottish Independence movement is ill-advised, calling for unity and stating that “together we are stronger” will not appease the many Scottish voters who wish for another opportunity to determine their future. However, the notion that Sturgeon and the SNP are more concerned with nationalistic referendums than fighting austerity holds certain weight and may draw support from those Scottish voters that have been battered by Conservative Austerity. The Scottish vote can and must swing at least marginally to Labour should they hope to win the 2017 General Election.

May 29th. “The Leaders Debate”. Theresa May had earlier promised on 6 separate occasions she would not call a snap election as it would destabilise the country. Yet Theresa May proceeded to call a vanity snap election. Theresa May stated the “dementia tax” as her party’s flagship manifesto pledge. Yet Theresa May U-turned on her flagship pledge mid-campaign. Theresa May’s Spring Budget announces a National Insurance rise. Yet Theresa May’s administration U-turns on National Insurance increase one week after policy’s introduction, breaking a 2015 Manifesto pledge. Theresa May sets election ground on leadership and Brexit. Yet Theresa May refuses to debate Jeremy Corbyn face-to-face. Theresa May has robbed the public of an opportunity to see the two people vying for the highest position in public office debate. Theresa May is incompetent. Weak and Wobbly not Strong and Stable. Where is the leadership? What is the point of strong, if it is strong against the weak? What is the point of stability if it is stable decline and destruction? Theresa May’s policy U-turns, lack of clarity, indecision and bad judgement, suggest Brexit will not be safe in her hands. May’s failure of an election campaign has the Conservative Party set to relaunch their campaign. The UK will not get a chance to restart Brexit negotiations, as easily as May intends to relaunch her campaign. May’s hard-line rhetoric and megaphone diplomacy towards Europe pre-election has already alienated the UK and left her in the cold with all of Europe’s main leaders. May’s bland leadership has failed to combat the broad range of progressive policies Labour have proposed.

The debate itself was Corbyn’s strongest media performance to date; calm, collected, competent, assured, trustworthy, genuine, passionate, reasonable, stable and a visionary. Corbyn coped well with audience questions responding calmly and drawing on his manifesto and its strengths at favourable intervals. Corbyn exuded leader-like qualities under Paxman’s tough questioning and heckling, who interrupted him 49 times in a 20 minute interview. Contrastingly, May came off weak, slow, boring and tiresome. May failed to answer specific questions on the “dementia tax” and Winter Fuel Allowance, stating these figures would be settled in consultation documents after the election. Providing figures after an election on policies that affect people’s lives is meaningless and useless. May came off as “a Blow-Hard who collapses at the first sound of gunfire”. If May cannot handle Paxman’s stern questioning, Brexit negotiations are due to crumble immediately.

The polls

From a 22 point deficit in the polls on the 18th April. Labour have surged.

On the 20th May Labour were 9 points behind the Conservatives:

CON: 43% (-5) LAB: 34% (+4) LDEM: 8% (-) UKIP: 4% (-) [YouGov]

On the 25th May Labour cut the gap to 5 points behind the Conservatives:

CON 43% (-1). LAB 38% (+3), LDEM 10 (+1), UKIP 4(+1) [YouGov]

Furthermore Labour have seen a 16 point swing in Wales:

LAB: 44% (+9) CON: 34% (-7) PC: 9% (-2) LDEM: 6% (-1) UKIP: 5% (+1) [YouGov]

However, polls are unreliable and not results. Labour still have a fight on and must concentrate on continuing the momentum in closing the gap between themselves and the Conservatives while making sure all the new voters that have registered go out and vote. The polls are positive, the movement is building but it must continue and the vote must be mobilised.

What is the election mood?

While the polls have swung by 25 points, polling is a flawed method and only provides a snapshot. Thus, it may also be worth measuring the mood. This is of course even less scientific and much more subjective. The social media bubble is churning out many pro-Corbyn, pro-Labour movements. Grime4Corbyn, celebrity endorsements (JME, Stormzy, AJ Tracey, Akala, Ellie Goulding, Riz Ahmed, Danny DeVito, Ricky Gervais, Maxine Peake, Pink Floyd and more) and timeline buzz presents a pro-Labour mood. Similarly, volunteer and canvassing numbers have been high for Labour across the country. Corbyn and Labour MPs have been received by huge crowds across the country with 1,000s lining the streets in Leeds and 20,000 people at the Wirral Live Rock Festival receiving Corbyn to chants of “Oooh Jeremy Corbyn” as he warmed up for the Libertines. The mood around Corbyn and the Labour is hopeful and positive.

With under two weeks to go till polling day, the time is NOW. This election can change the direction of the UK and the world. Campaign, write, tweet and go out and Vote for Labour on June 8th. Vote for a New United Kingdom.

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