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Labour is once again proud

Len McCluskey, Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Six weeks ago when Theresa May called her opportunistic election it was understandable that there was a sharp intake of labour movement breath. Could we really mount a decent challenge to a prime minister we were told was exactly what the country needed, buoyed by a cooing, uncritical media that was incapable of understanding the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn to hope-seeking voters?


After all, was this Boudicca not the embodiment of ‘strong and stable’?


Well that was then. Six weeks on us voters have been on a helter-skelter ride. Mrs May and her Tories have run a car crash campaign. Just as well Sir Lynton bagged his knighthood last time round as this time his efforts wouldn’t even earn him a sticker.


The Prime Minister has been revealed to be easy to rattle and unconvinced of her own ideas – not a good look ahead of Brexit talks with 27 irritated EU nations later this month.


Of course the seeds of their misfortunes were very much sown by the Tories themselves. Their cold-hearted ‘dementia tax’, their cuts to emergency services biting as security came to the fore, the reality that the NHS is slipping from decline into destruction. The implosion in public trust that comes when parents understand the ruin that Conservative schemes will bring to their child’s life chances.


Given the chance tomorrow, their austerity-inspired drag on living standards will continue into the middle of the next decade.


The myth of Conservative economic competence is just that: Scotch Mist. Even the world’s greatest thinker, Sir Stephen Hawking, who can see a reality where the rest of us see nothing, has declared the Tories a disaster.


So Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour team were never going to take this election lying down.  They said that it is not enough to simply expose the opponent for being on the wrong side of the argument.  It is essential too that to those we seek to lead our party offers a vision, and that we put it to the test.


Labour’s manifesto, costed and public for all to see – two qualities missing from the Tories’ offering – has been widely hailed as a refreshing and uplifting contrast to seven years of miserly, divisive economics.


For Unite this election campaign has been one of the most intense for many years. We have worked hard to mobilise our members and their communities. The union’s executive council took the view that the prospectus that Corbyn’s Labour was putting to the country was the best hope to reverse the assaults on wages and public services, of bridging the yawning inequality gap, of protecting working people through Brexit.


In all conscience, we could do nothing else but fight for every vote.


You may have seen our ad vans and our billboards. You may have had a Unite leaflet through your door or been one of the 600,000 members with whom we have spoken in this brief time where you told us that whether you lived in Scotland, Wales and England your priorities were the NHS, the plans for the UK leaving the EU and the economy.


For Unite members, as with workers across the country, only one party can ever truly look to these concerns with their interests at heart, the Labour party. Theresa May and her team have been shown for what they are – a party with nothing to offer for the Britain that will dawn on June 9.


Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour understands that if politics in this country is to survive, it must be rooted in the concerns and aspirations of our communities. The people want to be heard, not handed down to – the anti-establishment tremors that gave us Brexit are still rolling.


We may never return to what the dwellers of the Westminster bubble consider the norm, where people like them do business with other people like them in business as usual. This country’s political system has created too many people who are alienated, or abandoned, or struggling to get by for this to continue.


Against this backdrop we have Jeremy Corbyn, that rare creature, an optimist. He has withstood the slingshots and fusillades from all comers and emerged the stronger.


Because he is convinced of Labour’s vision for our better Britain he can lead his team to find their voice, to show up the dangers of Theresa May and her Tory party and let people believe there really can be an alternative.


In six intense but short weeks, this humble man has brought life and direction back to a party struggling to understand its place in a Britain undergoing profound social change.


He and his team have chased and harangued a Conservative party for their neglect of the people and their preservation of privilege.  Even his toughest critics in his party ranks have acknowledged that under Jeremy, Labour is not simply making up the numbers in this election but has done a real public service by blowing more than a few holes in the Tory wall of more of the same.


Tomorrow is the moment where we, the voters, can take charge of our future. Tomorrow, be proud, be confident – draw strength from all we have achieved in these short weeks. And vote Labour.


First appeared in Labour List on Wednesday June 7


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