We aim to be a non-political organisation, but this election is too important for us to keep quiet. It impacts on everything we are fighting for.
This election has been consistently misrepresented. There has been misleading or downright false reportage across mainstream media outlets including, sadly, our beloved yet beleaguered old BBC. The smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn has had a huge impact on the perceived credibility of the Labour leader, and by extension, the party. However. Don’t believe the hype: almost 80 percent of our press is owned by a few billionaires who do not live in the UK, the vast majority of which are Conservative Party supporters. No doubt they are also not in favour of Labour policies such as the initiative to break up big media groups and to close tax loopholes.
The S*n, that great bastion of journalistic integrity, is the most widely read newspaper in the UK. That is worth repeating. Most. Widely. Read. It is owned by Rupert Murdoch, along with the S*n on Sunday, The Times and the Sunday Times. Mr Murdoch lives in the US, is an alleged tax avoider, and all of his papers supported the Conservatives in 2010. He controls 24.9% of our print and online media and is currently trying to buy the rest of Sky News, another ‘news’ outlet that has been less than impartial in its reportage.
Lord Rothermere lives in France, and is non-domiciled in the UK for tax (evasion) purposes. He owns The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Metro. He controls 27.3% of print and online media, and yes, he supports the Conservatives. There’s already half of our mainstream media with very vested interests in the outcome of this election.
So you can understand why many people have some sort of belief that Jeremy Corbyn is not a credible leader. They read it in the papers. We regularly hear people saying that they would vote Labour, but they don’t like Jeremy, so they are going to vote Conservative. We are not sure how that makes sense.
There seems to be some confusion about the electoral system in the UK. People say that Labour cannot win the General Election. We would like to suggest that if enough people vote for them, then that is exactly what will happen.
Let us put it out there, we’re not voting for Jeremy Corbyn, either. But you know what? We most certainly are voting Labour. A vote in the general election is not for a person, but for a party. Therefore, debates encouraged by the media and the Conservatives which have focused on the Labour leader’s person and appearance are designed to shift attention away from what really matters: the policies.
The Labour Party manifesto came out this week. In the preface, it talks about the fact that Britain is the fifth richest country in the world, and yet increasingly people are being expected to do more with less, particularly those who work in, or rely on, public services.
We have read the manifesto, and we are excited by it. Decent homes for all, a real living wage of £10 per hour and the abolition of tuition fees for further and higher education are just some of the points that are put out in a fully costed list of election pledges. Allow us to do a whistle-stop tour of some of the most powerful points.
We do not have enough quality jobs. Labour want to revitalise our ailing industries, to invest in new skills and a stronger workforce. They want to double the size of the co-operative sector and outlaw unpaid internships and zero-hours contracts.
Water bills have increased 40% since privatisation. Our rail network is one of the most expensive, and unreliable, in the world. Our energy is overpriced and dirty, and Royal Mail is getting more expensive while making a nice profit for its owners, at the expensive of worsening levels of service. Labour will take back our key utilities into public ownership.
Renewable energy and climate change is a big one for Sustainable Liverpool. Since 2010 the Conservatives have scrapped support for onshore wind, abolished solar panel subsidies, killed off the flagship Green Deal, sold off the Green Investment Bank and have given up on a decade-long plan to force all new homes to be zero carbon. They allow fracking, (which is banned in France, Bulgaria, Germany and parts of the US due to its environmental impact), and in 2015 even did a u-turn on a promise not to allow the dangerous practice in our national parks and other sites off special scientific interest (SSSIs).
Labour have pledged to meet the UK’s climate change targets and to transition to low carbon energy while ensuring security of supply and affordability for consumers and businesses. They will regain control of energy supply networks, support the creation of community energy initiatives and offer homeowners interest-free loans for property improvements. Low-carbon economy is not just about climate change, but is actually one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors and one that they will continue to support as a key to economic success as well as sustainable environmental policy.
Under Labour, our NHS will be safe. Under the Conservatives, it has been consistently under attack since 2010 and is undoubtedly on the way to becoming yet another victim of privatisation, and what is more, the most tragic victim of this trend to undermine the social support systems of our country. Our health is not something to make a profit out of. Our health system should be free at the point of use.
Labour will guarantee access to treatment within 18 weeks. They will take 1 million people off NHS waiting lists, reduce ambulance waiting times and deliver new strategies and improved support for those suffering from cancer, or living with mental health issues, autism or learning difficulties. They will improve the working conditions, training and pay for our NHS staff.
Labour will make the majority of the money needed for this from changes in taxation, although there will be no rise in income tax below £80k, and no increase in National Insurance contributions or VAT. Two of the biggest targets in the short term, for finding the money to pay for all of these pledges, are tax loopholes and corporation tax.
Corporation tax in the UK is the lowest of any major economy. Labour plan to raise that tax to 26% by 2020-21. From 28% in 2010 when David Cameron won the General Election, the rate has been repeatedly slashed to its current rate of 18%, and the Conservatives plan to reduce that to 17% by 2020 at a further cost of £7.5bn to the UK economy. Labour’s policy here could raise £19bn a year in the near term, while still remaining competitive with the rest of the G20.
Closing down tax loopholes. The manifesto sets its sights on tax evasion, something that companies such as Amazon, Starbucks, Apple, Google, Lloyds Banking and GSK have been either implicated in or found guilty of in recent years. In 2014, Oil company Shell made £20bn profit. They paid no UK corporation tax whatsoever.
For the sake of brevity, we will have to stop going on about specific policies now, and just urge you to read the manifesto for yourself.
Labour are committed to ensuring that the national debt is lower at the end of the next parliament than it is today. And they show how they will be able to do this while abolishing tuition fees, giving free lunches for pupils, ending the bedroom tax, repealing cuts in support to disabled people and committing to building 100,000 council and housing association homes per year.
That is something to get behind, to speak to people about with passion, and to put your vote to. Don’t vote for or against a personality; vote for the policies that will make the best improvement in quality of life for the greatest number of people.
Don’t get us wrong, having someone like Jeremy Corbyn at the head of the Labour Party certainly helps to win our vote, but it is not because of his personality. It is because he has shown that he has conviction. He sticks to his word. If Theresa May was the head of the Labour Party, we’d still vote for this manifesto, although we’d be less certain that she would deliver on it. After all, we’re voting in a General Election that Mrs May has repeatedly said she would not be calling: