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Can we trust the Rusty Lady?

Len McCluskey, Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

The union I have the privilege of leading, Unite, is glad that the questions of trust and leadership are now centre-stage in this election.


For the past seven years, the Conservatives have run this country.  We know exactly what they do when they are in power – the money is mismanaged and our vital public services are made threadbare.  We can trust them to do it all over again.


The Tories have run an appalling campaign unworthy of a party seeking government.  The woman who seeks to be prime minister has been hiding from any unscripted contact with the voters, refusing a head to head with Jeremy Corbyn.  And they have contemptuously put to the electorate a manifesto with no costings, no vision and more holes than a Swiss cheese.


In less than a fortnight, this country will begin the talks that will see us exit Europe.  The laws and arrangements that have governed us for forty years will be changed; we need to be able to trust that they will be changed for the better.


Already, Theresa May has turned her back on the single market with potentially devastating consequences for Unite members and their communities.  Jobs in defence, aerospace, the food and car industries – the future of workers today and tomorrow – all depend on our government acting in the people’s interests at the negotiating table.


But her ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ claim abandons workers.  Her party’s shameless toot on a very large dog whistle in her thirst for UKIP’s lost voters is not leadership, it is rampant irresponsibility.


In contrast Labour is the only party that can unite the country over this most divisive issue.  To the 52 per cent, Labour says we will end freedom of movement, regulate migration and go after the greedy rogues who have lined their pockets with the wages of exploited workers – changing the miserable race to the bottom culture into a fair rate for the job society.


To the 48 per cent, Labour is saying we will build a more positive partnership with the world’s biggest single market. To the whole country, Labour says ‘your jobs, your communities, are our priorities’.


As the country processes the horrific events of recent weeks, the issues of trust and leadership take on a new poignancy.


The reality of Mrs May’s time in government is that she has been more concerned about the cutbacks bottom line than the defence of the thin blue line.


Back in November 2015, this union was warning that her then departments would shrink one of the country’s biggest police forces to the smallest size in its history.  Four in every five police community support officers, the men and women on the beat, would be sent to the dole.  More cuts are on their way.


Today I hear that the police forensic analysis service, the very experts needed to comb through the wreckage from last Saturday night to point the way to a more secure future are, under the Conservatives, underpaid, under-valued and under-resourced.


In an attempt to distract from the failings of keeping Britain secure under her watch, the Prime Minister declared ‘enough is enough’.  Yes, Prime Minister – no more cuts, no more gambling with public safety.  Enough really is enough.


Jeremy Corbyn is 100 per cent correct on this: you cannot have the policing we need for this day and age on the cheap.


But Unite is not the only body who understands that the Tories will never put the people first. The Square Mile’s backing for Mrs May’s Tories is not because they swallow the empty nonsense about them being the ‘workers’ party’. Quite the opposite. They know that with Mrs May in Number Ten there will be no move to end their corporation tax giveaway, or curb City excesses in order to shorten the queue at the foodbank.


And those £3bn Tory tax breaks for the rich?  Well Corbyn’s Labour has a much more noble and public-spirited use for the taxpayers’ money – putting 10,000 new police officers on our streets.


With a quiet determination, Jeremy Corbyn has forced the real issues of today onto the agenda, exposing the Tories’ shifty campaign and their failure to offer any answers to the crisis engulfing the living standards of ordinary people.


He has exposed this Iron Lady for all to see – and there are more than a few dents and a fair bit of rust on this model.


In dignified and impassioned public appearances, Jeremy has offered something that is just not in the Tory lexicon: hope. But it is hope supported by a careful and costed plan to rebuild our country.

He has proved himself to be a man of the people but also a leader of the people – he inspires a belief that a better world really is possible.


So yes, we now really do have a choice.  It is between a man who wants our children to have the chances and opportunities they deserve, and a woman who won’t rule out tax rises for struggling workers, whose policies divide and do not mend, and who refused six times to give an honest answer about the scale of her police cuts.


This Thursday, please take a moment.  Ask yourselves that question: who really can be trusted to do right by the people of this country?


There really only can only be one answer.  Labour – for the many, not the few.


First appeared on Huffington post on Tuesday June 6


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