If you follow my social media profiles then this should come as no surprise, but now that I'm putting it on my actual website, you know I must be serious!
I truly believe this is the most important election, not only since I've been eligible to vote, but in decades. You might be thinking, 'Yeah, but you don't even live in the UK anymore, what do you care?'. Well, the thing is, I care about the people who do live there, and I want it to be in better shape when I move back!
Another term of the Conservative party will kill people. It already has. Read the story of the 64-year-old man who was forced to get a pass to leave hospital (where he had been admitted for pneumonia) to fight a decision that declared him fit for work. He died.
Or the story of a man who died THIS MONTH while in the queue at the Job Centre, having been declared fit for work earlier this year. Or this man who killed himself after being told he had to return to work despite suffering from poor mental health for years. Or this man, who won his appeal against being declared fit to work seven months AFTER he died.
There are a lot of figures being thrown around as to how many people have died owing to Tory austerity, and some have been exaggerated, but to say it hasn't caused deaths is sadly untrue.
Then let's just look at food bank usage, which has skyrocketed since the Tories came to power in 2010. Here's a report from the BBC on the record numbers of food being supplied to food banks. Just look at this graph.
Aa cross-party group of MPs blamed this surge in food bank use on a squeeze on incomes, benefit delays and excessive utility bills and then you have the gall of people like Priti Patel, who says the government has nothing to do with it! Look at the disdain on her face in the video (at the 15-second mark).
And let's not forget, the United Nations itself reported how Tory austerity has inflicted misery on UK citizens.
As for the NHS, well. Let's see what some doctors say about it first.
My song "Requiem" was based on the Noam Chomsky documentary Requiem For The American Dream.
I wrote the song literally minutes after watching it. You can read the lyrics on this page (eighth song down), but this verse in particular comes from what Chomsky says about the method governments have always used to privatise public services:
How will they privatise the NHS?
Underfund and undermine it, feed stories to the press
As complaints roll in, they’ll tell us there’s a new way
“We can make it better, but now you gotta pay”
“We can kiss it all better but now you gotta pay”
Read here about how underfunding the NHS since 2010 has made the current crisis inevitable. There's a reason waiting times have gone through the roof, and why people are being left in hospital corridors for hours on end, and it's not the fault of the doctors and nurses.
And on top of all this, the Tories are the party who resort to dirty tricks, like changing their press office's Twitter account to pass it off as a blue-tick factchecking site, or setting up a fake Labour manifesto website and paying Google to make it appear at the top of search results.
But enough of the doom and gloom, for once there's actually hope!
You can read the real (not the fake Tory one) Labour manifesto here.
However, a quick breakdown, sourced here, reveals a new windfall tax on oil companies will be at the heart of a Labour government’s plan to tackle climate change and transform Britain. The one-off levy will be aimed at turning the UK into a low carbon, green economy, with a view to getting to getting the country on a path to zero emissions by 2030.
In another radical move, companies that “fail to contribute to tacking the climate and environmental emergency” will be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange. The manifesto says that just 100 multinational firms globally are “responsible for the majority of carbon emissions” and “we won’t be afraid to tackle this wanton corporate destruction”.
The other main pledges are:
a £155bn NHS ‘rescue plan’.
100,000 new council houses a year by 2024.
free broadband for all delivered by part-nationalising BT.
a “real living wage” of at least £10 an hour, including for younger workers.
creation of one million “green jobs” to tackle climate change.
bringing rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership.
Now, there will be cries all over of "they'll never afford it" and "we'll bankrupt the country". Bullshit. Sorry. I'm going to have to copy from journalist Paul Mason here, but let's look at what he said:
"With other measures and improvements to public sector pay the spending plan comes to £82.5bn — much bigger than the £49bn Labour promised last time. So how are they going to raise it?"
"Labour will phase in a two-tier corporation tax, with small firms paying 21% and big ones 26%. This, they say, should raise £24bn by 2024, with a further £6bn raised by changes to the taxation of multinational companies.
"Capital gains and dividends will be taxed at the same rate as income tax, bringing in an extra £14bn. Only £5bn of the extra revenue is expected to come from taxing people earning over £80k and £125k.
"And while Labour reckons increased growth will drive higher tax revenues, McDonnell's team have allowed only £5bn to be raised this way.The 44-page document contains detailed arguments and calculations.
"Unlike last time, Labour has tried to build in 'behavioural responses' from companies and rich individuals, marking down its ability to collect tax at the headline rate.
"As always, think tanks like the Institute for Fiscal Studies are queuing up to rubbish the plans. Because Labour's investment plans are funded by £400bn of borrowing, it's hard for the elite's ideologists to say 'it can't be done': government borrowing is cheaper than at any time in living memory. So the focus will be on this £80bn. They will say:
- you can't raise the money because companies will change behaviour to evade taxation
- you can't tax high earners because they will structure their wage-deals to avoid the new thresholds
- growth will suffer because rich people will pull their money out of Britain
- there's not enough capacity in the economy to absorb the new spending.
"Let's take these arguments one by one. On 'you can't raise it' Labour has tried to factor that in. But if the behavioural change is bigger than expected, Labour has clear fiscal rules that would limit borrowing to make up the shortfall. The hard fact is that, if the right wing economists are correct, and the tax isn't raised, some of the spending has to be delayed. But we have no idea whether their fears are justified because no government has ever tried to seriously make the rich and the speculators pay their way.
"On high-earners, there's so little of the £82bn actually raised from income tax, that it's a secondary issue whether a few of them evade or avoid the new taxes. Labour has already accounted for most of this anyway.
"It's true a few billionaires might board their own version of the Lolita Express and get out, once they are being made to pay their way. But Labour's massive spending boost should draw in serious money from investors in wind, solar, railway expansion, public housebuilding and broadband technologies, not to mention the boost to the university sector that will come from abolishing tuition fees and paying them direct from the state."
Now, I'll admit, I withdrew my Labour party membership and voted for the Green party in the European elections as a protest over the way Labour were handling Brexit. But — and isn't this novel? — it seems like they actually listened.
I now think the Labour's Brexit policy is the fairest. They will try to negotiate their own Brexit deal — far better than the ruinous Johnson deal — and then put it back to the people for a final say. Look, if that day comes, I'll be voting to Remain, but at least people will have a reasonable choice.
There have been many complaints about antisemitism in the Labour party. It exists. It needs to be stamped out. However, here's a great — and well sourced! — blog about how antisemitism is lower in the Labour party than the Tory party (which is also rife with Islamophobia), and is in fact lower than it is among the general public.
THE LIB DEMS
The Lib Dems not only backed Tory austerity, they're now suggesting they'd back Johnson's Brexit deal, as long as they add a remain option, thus proving they would happily get in bed with the Tories again. So, instead, I say they can get in the bin. And I'm saying this as someone who voted LD in 2005 and 2010 (while New Labour was still a thing).
Of course, as much as I would encourage you to vote Labour, the real issue is getting the Tories out, and that may involve tactical voting. If you live in a marginal constituency, I'd recommend going here, entering your postcode and seeing what your best course of action is (even if you have to hold your nose as you do it).
If you're happy with the way country has been run over the last nine years, vote Tory. If not, let's get Labour elected!