Fear versus hope

Yesterday Penny and I travelled to Eastbourne to meet Chris, a former colleague from a day centre in north London. Chris lives in York but was spending the weekend down south. It’s thanks to social media that Chris is in touch with us and yesterday morning I got a lovely message from a fellow Tolly Park student about my blogs. A fellow called Joe who I didn’t know but who I hope to get to know a little better, and this on top of a message from Claire last week. So I was having a good week until last night when the news from London Bridge came through. Our beliefs and values are being tested. Will we be strong enough to get through this period without over-reacting and succumbing to hatred and intolerance? I aim to be.

The General Election campaign enters it’s final week. In four days time we could have another government. I hope so and am encouraged by what I see and hear. Both from friends and family and on social media as well as on the telly and in the papers. But we will not succeed if we take our foot off the gas and assume we’ve crossed the finishing line. We have four days to persuade those who are undecided. And then to actually visit the polling station and vote. Older people say about younger adults that they like to moan about how bad things are but can’t be bothered to do anything about it. And if they don’t vote they will get a government that continues to treat them with contempt. Saddling them with student debts, low paid jobs and a future where they are worse off than their parents. In the past people said that there was little difference between Labour and Tories. We can stick with what we know or embrace the possibility of change. Fear versus hope.

The campaign has been a pleasant surprise. The level of hostility towards the Tories has led some, like Boris Johnson, to accuse the BBC of filling up studio audiences with left wing voters. It may come as a surprise to Boris but people really don’t like what his party has been doing. On Friday a tearful member of the audience asked Jeremy Corbyn about the immigration rules which forces her husband to live in the United States because he didn’t have a job that paid £18,000 p/a. Corbyn sympathised and told her this would change. The format didn’t allow the woman to put the question to Teresa May because she refused to debate directly with Jeremy Corbyn. Which is a pity because this rule was introduced by her as Home Secretary. It is May who has forced couples to live apart and I hope the audience member and her husband have the opportunity to live together as a couple in the UK soon.

And what is there to say about Teresa May? Triggering Article 50 at the end of March which started the clock ticking for a 2 year timespan to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union. And then to waste the first two months on an election campaign. It just shows calling this election wasn’t a considered decision, but a reaction to events. She keeps talking about the coalition of chaos. In their arrogance they think the only options on the menu are a Tory majority government or a Labour government which is reliant on smaller parties to govern. It doesn’t occur to them that there is another option. Of a Labour government with a majority and that some people might quite like this proposition.

When Corbyn got elected as Labour leader I was in the middle of a holiday in Turkey and I said the following;

Today Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Labour Party. I have lived and worked in his constituency in north London and have served as a shop steward and have worked as a party member to get him elected. I have met him a few times and I would trust him completely to stand up for working class and everyone who is disadvantaged. I wish him well and hope he is strong enough to withstand the shit the Tories and their friends in the media will try and throw at him.

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Well, I have to say that I didn’t expect so much of the shit to come from his own MPs, who continually briefed the media against him for the first 12 months. And then decided to unite behind Owen Smith in their attempts to topple him. They failed and Corbyn won by a bigger margin than 12 months previously. The majority of the party are keeping silent about Corbyn during this election campaign. If the party loses, which is still the most likely prospect if the opinion polls are to be believed, I expect we won’t have to wait too long to see them attacking their own leader.

Jeremy Corbyn has conducted himself with dignity in the face of the attacks on him from inside and outside his own party. He has refused to go on the attack against individuals. He has played the ball, not the man, to use a football analogy. He is asking you to vote Labour not because of his personality, but because of the progeramme the Party (not him personally) has collectively put together. His style of leadership is to include and consult others. This is a strength not a weakness.

The crap from the Tories was to be expected and Teresa May and her selected few who are allowed to be shown on TV have done their best to make it a battle between two personalities. The trouble is this has revealed the weaknesses of Teresa May, who is keeping away from meeting the public both on television and in her tour of empty warehouses around the country. Yesterday she was with a group of mums and a few babies. She nods and nods and nods as people talk to her. And then answers in the blandest manner possible. She is asking for a personal mandate without a clear plan or progeramme of government. ‘Trust me’ she is saying. They won’t tell you at what point older people will lose their winter fuel allowance. They won’t tell you what the maximum figure you will have to pay towards your care needs. It could be £50,000 it could be half a million. And if you wanted to help your grandchildren onto the housing ladder so that they didn’t get ripped off like my son is doing paying £1,000 a month to rent a one bedroomed flat in London, well that’s just tough. The Tories will take away the only hope you had of being able to support your family if you are unfortunate enough to live with a condition that requires you to need care. This is the reality of the ‘dementia tax’. My mother who has this condition will be unaware that this is being proposed. But I seeth with anger that her wishes and her hard work throughout a lifetime of low paid work which has resulted in her having a physical disability is going to be rewarded by a government which will steal from her the hope that her final act will be to do what she’s done all her life. Selflessly help others.

This is what we can expect IF we get a Tory government. We don’t have to have one.

Things I recommend; taking inspiration from others. Thank you Kenan for inspiring me to rejoin the Labour Party two years ago.

Making a decision, getting off the fence.

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Things I don’t recommend; state sponsored robbery.

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