Photo: Al Jazeera
Abolish tuition fees. Abolish bedroom tax. Abolish zero hours contracts. Free school meals. £10 living wage. Nationalise rail, energy, water and mail. Save our NHS.
Speaking to the world from Bradford University yesterday morning, Jeremy Corbyn unveiled the much anticipated Labour Party manifesto, FOR THE MANY NOT THE FEW, outlining his bold vision for a nation in desperate need of one. It is difficult to overstate the generational significance of the opportunity presented by the little red book. It makes no apologies for seeking to implement radical change, effectively mapping out a blueprint for annihilating the draconian Tory austerity regime from pillar to post.
The message received when studying the comprehensive document is that for the first time in decades, the Labour Party has regained its soul and is offering a manifesto for the masses. It presents an abundance of fully costed policies that will genuinely change the lives of ordinary people for the better should Jeremy Corbyn occupy the steps of 10 Downing Street on June 9th.
Not surprisingly, the right-wing media immediately attempted to undermine what was a milestone moment for Britain’s political left. As Corbyn began to answer a question on the problem of biased media, BBC coverage of the event sneakily replaced the live sound with its own in-studio commentary.
Meanwhile, its senior political editor Laura Keunssberg – who was condemned earlier in the year for breaching impartiality rules when falsely reporting on Corbyn – took to Twitter in an attempt to paint the picture that Labour’s plan for renationalisation was financially unbalanced. Economics professor Jonathan Portes would swiftly correct this misconception, reminding Keunssberg that nationalisation does not impact a nation’s deficit. Needless to say she couldn’t formulate a reply.
As has been widely reported, Labour’s policies have gained strong popular support. Corbyn increasingly receives rock star-like adulation from record numbers on the campaign trail – the sort of thing you’d never associate with boring old politics. Nevertheless, the wider public continue to regurgitate the “unelectable” propaganda relentlessly put forward by a mainstream media reflecting the fears of the right-wing establishment it is monopolised by.
A recent ComRes poll found that 52% of the electorate support Corbyn’s plan for renationalising Britain’s railways, and overwhelming majorities of 71% and 78% supported the banning of zero hours contracts and maintaining the ban on fox-hunting.
Yet the same findings suggested that nonsensically, voters remain doubtful of Corbyn’s leadership credentials. Somewhere along the line it seems to have been forgotten that no typical clean-shaven, tie-wearing politician would have had the guts to put forward such a progressive vision. It is precisely because of Corbyn’s leadership that the people have the choice to reject a rigged system that consistently raises the cost of living for workers with stagnated wages.
The huge boost a £10 living wage would bring to the lives of the many is therefore obvious. As is a pledge of free school meals for all. These are common sense programmes that any fair society should promote, yet after seven long years of Tory cuts, they seem like a fairy tale.
But don’t allow yourself to be deceived – Britain is the 6th richest country in the world. We are still bombing Syria. If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people. The national debt at the end of the Second World War was significantly higher than it is now. Did that stop Attlee’s Labour government from ushering in a transformative NHS and welfare state?
The benefits of a renationalisation project are slightly less obvious than the likes of introducing free school meals. But any length of time researching the ills of privatisation indicate that Labour’s plan to return the rail system to a state of public ownership, for example, will see extortionate prices reduce. Britain presently has the most expensive ticket prices in Europe. Between 1995 and 2013 the price of return tickets between London and other major cities rose by up to 140%. With Corbyn’s vision, Britain’s rail will run for passengers not profit.
It is perhaps the finer details of Labour’s manifesto that shows when Corbyn says he wants to make the country a better place, he truly means it. It offers a conscious effort to modernise libraries, to counteract the death of local pubs, to tackle the gambling culture that saturates every sports event and every street corner. Most profound of all, it seeks to eradicate elderly loneliness. Labour’s manifesto has given the people the opportunity to reverse Thatcher’s legacy of tearing the soul out of communities across the nation.
Whatever the result on June 8th, Labour’s manifesto has once again positioned Jeremy Corbyn on the right side of history. It’s up to voters to now wake up, smell the coffee and chose a better life for themselves; for their children, the undervalued worker, the aspiring student, the lonely elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill – the many, not the few.