During the 2017 general election campaign, I was a reluctant advocate for a Labour Party that I didn’t quite have faith in. I had, as I do now, concerns about the way the party operated, worries that Jeremy Corbyn was an authoritarian figure who could not tolerate dissent. With the anti-semitism scandal to add to this, it is clearer to me than ever before that there are problems within the Labour party. Yet I will vote for them on the 12th and, this time, I am certain that I am making the right decision.
I think we are at a crossroads in time. We have reached a point where whatever decision we make on the 12th is going to determine what sort of country we are. Now, more than ever, voting is crucial. Every possible outcome for this election presents wildly different scenarios for the country as a whole.
Unfortunately, many of those potential scenarios are decidedly unwholesome, at least in my eyes. The most unwholesome, of course, is a Conservative majority. To vote Conservative this election is to vote for the most right-wing Tory party in decades. A Tory party whose centrist voices have been subject to purges and sidelining. A vote for this Tory party is a vote for a philosophy that will undoubtedly transform the type of country Britain is.
Their vague, numerically suspicious manifesto is a deliberate ploy: its promises of a better Britain have no basis, and yet serve to draw in voters who would never have previously voted Tory. According to a YouGov poll from a couple of weeks ago, 45% of working class voters intend to vote Conservative; just 31% are opting for Labour.
Yet faith in an unspecific manifesto, especially an unspecific manifesto associated with Boris Johnson, is misplaced. Make no mistake, I realise Labour’s flaws, and the flaws in their own manifesto. I realise that Corbyn can be unlikable, and has demonstrated poor leadership on several occasions. But if this election campaign has demonstrated anything, it is the willingness of Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party to lie. And the manifesto of a liar is not one that can be trusted.
Consider the deliberate incorporation of deception into Conservative PR. Their creation of a fake fact-checking site and a fake Labour manifesto simply to smear the opposition is nothing short of despicable. Taking BBC footage out of context to create an anti-Labour video was manipulative. This is a party that will blatantly lie before it even has a majority; any promises it makes mean nothing.
This is especially worrying because of the critical situation we are in. Much talk has been made of the NHS this election, especially with regards to what might happen to it in the event of a free trade deal with the United States. While Boris Johnson may insist that the institution would not be on the table in trade talks with the US, how much stock can we really put by the guarantees that Johnson offers? After all, Johnson has previously said that patients should be charged to use the NHS. His personal politics lean towards privatisation. Under him, one of the institutions I most value in the UK is threatened.
Under Jeremy Corbyn, there is the promise of something different. Throughout his 35-plus years in parliament, Corbyn has consistently voted for motions which underpin the platform on which he stands today. He is principled where Johnson is unscrupulous. While Johnson has referred to black people as ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’, Corbyn has championed race equality. While Corbyn’s Labour promises to scrap the Universal Credit system, which disproportionately adversely affects single mothers, Johnson himself has referred to their children as ‘ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate’.
I could go on, and these snippets of Johnson’s ramblings are probably familiar to many people, having been rolled out multiple times by his opponents. But I think the facts are clear: under a Johnson government, lies, inconsistency and and privatisation would be the norm. Under Corbyn, even if he struggled to deliver on his ambitious manifesto, we would at least see principle, public spending, and a commitment to a more equal society. As George Monbiot has said, it doesn’t necessarily matter if Labour can’t deliver all they promise; a Johnson government will undoubtedly be cruel and damaging to this country.
Many people describe a Corbyn government as ‘the lesser of two evils’, but this statement fails to acknowledge that the party is keen to deliver the least ‘evil’ policies of all those it campaigns against. Though Labour has its problems with anti-semitism, we must not forget that the Tories too are represented by individuals with reprehensible beliefs, including a holocaust-denying former candidate. This does not make the situation in Labour any more palatable, but simply offers the context that not voting for Labour does not mean that one can avoid a vote for prejudice.
So although former Labour MP Ivan Lewis is now urging people to vote Conservative, we must remember that we cannot cancel out one form of oppression by voting for different oppressions. A vote for the Tories is a vote for social division: by class, race, gender, creed, and sexuality.
And where do the Lib Dems stand? Well, I can’t see much point in voting for a party which seems to have lost its way on pretty much everything except Brexit. Don’t get me wrong, Brexit is important, but it cannot be the be all and end all of any party’s platform. I’m not denying that the Lib Dems have their good qualities, but the party has suffered a dilution in recent months, with the addition of former Tories to its parliamentary party who lack real affinity with socially liberal policy.
Besides this, the party has made little impact in the polls. Vote Lib Dem in your constituency if it will keep the Tories out to be sure, but don’t split the left-wing vote needlessly and recklessly if you truly want progressive politics.
This is my case. I am voting Labour because I believe that the more Tory MPs the new parliament has, the worse off the vast majority of us will be. I am voting Labour because I believe in the value of public services, and I believe that more equal societies are safer, healthier, and more sustainable.
Nearly ten years of Tory governments have seen a stagnation in the living standards of ordinary people, and a dramatic rise in the wealth of the elite few. This status quo must change, yet indications on page 48 of the Tory manifesto suggest that the party wishes to limit the power of the Commons and the Judiciary, effectively allowing the government to run roughshod over democratic process with no repercussions, and potentially facilitating a constitution which may block left-wing, democratic movements.
But I have hope. Hope that we can at least stop the Tories from gaining a majority, from enacting policies which hurt the poorest in society most. And as comedian and actor Francesca Martinez says, we must embrace a politics of hope, and not succumb to the fear and divisions that lie the other way.
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