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We live in fraught times. Since the 2008 crash this country has felt increasing tension between the super rich and the rest, between North and South, between the composite countries of the union and between religious communities. Two rival visions cross all of these lines, competing for ownership of the greatest asset we possess as a society – our future. One seeks to bridge them, the other seeks to divide.
The terror attacks of the last two weeks, the worst in over a decade, have shaken and stirred the country. What can we do to combat extremism and prevent the loss of innocent life, and the corruption of those who would use death and despair as a political bludgeon? A total rethink of our terms of engagement is needed: we must challenge terrorism at source, create room for positive community engagement, widen opportunity to include the disenfranchised, and radically improve our approach to educating young people and enlightening the young. A peaceful future lies in a better connected world and the innovations and opportunities for community that will result — not in regulation, snooping and limiting freedom.
The Labour manifesto, in its bid to rebuild communities, mend the wounds of globalisation and afford opportunities to those at all ends of the socio-economic scale represents a vast step in the right direction. Beyond a firm and unflinching commitment to maintain and boost traditional counter-terrorism and our police forces, they will root out this sickness at source — cutting off arms sales to Saudi Arabia, who actively fund the Wahhabist school and preachers that poison the well of moderate Islam in the UK and offering a lifeline to our communities such that the rot of homegrown, white British terrorism and nationalism shall not be fed by disenfranchisement.
Theirs is a manifesto that, when not read through the prism of the media, astounds and impresses in its boldness and completeness of vision. It represents hope, humanity and common progression on the scale of Clement Attlee’s 1945 Labour, with grand schemes such as the National Education Service and National Care Service effectively proposing a holistic, cradle to grave care that should ensure common needs are met. Proper attempts to reverse the dearth of “fake jobs” via zero-hours contracts and illegitimate self-employment and the withering of employment will help us to turn around a fractious economy that fails in its primary duty of care. This combined with reopening Sure Start centres, advancing towards a proper mandatory living wage and closing loopholes that allow the institutional abuse of workers will reduce the reliance on the state handouts and food banks and restore dignity to working people.
Labour will not shirk international responsibility and seeks to repair the damage done by May’s purile stance towards Europe. Signs of a constructive approach are already plainly evident, with a comparatively internationalist tone that seeks the best, not the hardest deal for Brexit, maintaining those aspects of our relationship with Europe that strengthen the UK and offering hope that we might hold our own union together. Corbyn’s long-held anti-militaristic and incredibly brave stance towards The Troubles in Ireland shows he is a diplomat with huge pragmatism and bravery in walking complicated, often morally ambiguous geo-political terrain and someone who is unafraid to tread where others won’t. The armed forces will get the funding they need, where they need it and in such a manner that is relevant to current, not Cold War threats.
Labour’s emphasis on accelerating universal access to high-speed internet, investing in future technologies whilst creating the green jobs and the cheap, sustainable energy we need starkly contrasts with the big-C Conservative approach. Theirs is one of abject ignorance and shirking of leadership, ruthlessly gutting environmental legislation — or what David Cameron called “that green crap” — with a frighteningly weak May signally failing to properly condemn Trump’s appalling ditching of the Paris Climate Accord. With mass migration set to increase dramatically as a result of global warming, a strong and stable future relies wholly upon us maintaining planet A because as France’s new president Emmanuel Macron put it, “there is no planet B”.
Theresa May finds herself caught in the nightmarish triangulation between the far right, social conservatives and the interests of big banks and corporations. She is hamstrung to an archaic, counterproductive approach to mending society’s wounds and the flawed, wilfully regressive environmental views buoyed by a wildly regressive and unpredictably aggressive U.S. administration. A win for the Conservatives aligns us with a very real new order controlled by a few power-mad billionaires, backing a resurgent, technologically savvy and organised globalised far right movement, underpinned by Robert Mercer’s psyops expertise and a wealth of unelected oligarchs. This is the great conspiracy of our times and the biggest set back for it right now would be to lose the UK to the level headed, outwards looking internationalism of Jeremy Corbyn.
The three Brexiteers in Boris Jonshon, David Davis and Liam Fox, the more overt public faces championing this veritable cabal whilst turning the UK into an antagonistic, isolated offshore bank account for the global elite and dismantling what is left of the caring state that Theresa May publicly purports to defend… However unconvincingly. Her approach, cogently or not, plays into the Breitbart-style, ethno-nationalism of the so-called Alt-Right and does nothing to stem the rampant precarity, insecurity and emerging collective global identity that can ultimately deliver peace, prosperity and the solutions we need.
We are heading for numerous icebergs, the seas of Brexit are treacherous and there is no turning back, but we can navigate a safer path through this with a captain not resigned to sinking to the bottom as quickly and painlessly as possible. We can mend ties with our continental families and stand side by side against global bullies like Trump and Putin. There is hope and there is a clear-cut choice at this election. May has left herself without room for manoeuvre, whilst Corbyn and his revived Labour movement has the potential to reset our course. We have a choice between a leader who clings to myopic, self-serving and nakedly divisive forces for buoyancy or one who seeks to devise a new economy to meet the changing needs of a fast-paced, rapidly evolving world.
Achieving a good outcome whereby the Tories are at the very least limited in their powers relies on the young coming out as never before, the downtrodden recognising where their interests are best looked after and the old employing some utterly fresh thinking (if worrying about the preservation and reform of the care system isn’t enough). If the shocks of the last two years in politics have taught us anything it is that there are no foregone conclusions; a blue-wash is not inevitable, the red tide of hope may yet come in.