In 1945, after the second of two world wars, Britain was effectively bankrupt, financially exhausted, as its people were physically exhausted. But those people were given hope that the future would be different, by a transformative programme of Government put forward by the Labour Party. “Let Us Face The Future” was the manifesto’s title. The commitment it made bears repetition, even after 74 years have passed.
“Victory in War must be followed by a Prosperous Peace … The gallant men and women in the Fighting Services, in the Merchant Navy, Home Guard and Civil Defence, in the factories and in the bombed areas - they deserve and must be assured a happier future than faced so many of them after the last war. Labour regards their welfare as a sacred trust” A sacred trust. It was a mammoth task for a war-weary nation.
But much of that task was completed in one term of Government. Sadly, since 1979, attacks on what in the 1950s became “The Postwar Consensus” have eroded some of that trust. The result is increased poverty, homelessness, poor housing, poor local public transport, exploitation of workers, poor state pensions, the NHS under annual winter strain, and all the while, more money for the 1% at the top of the pile.
Today, Labour brought something to the General Election campaign that recalled the message of 1945, and that something was hope. Hope that students of whatever age would not be saddled with tens of thousands of Pounds of debt for years after graduating. Hope that the punitive benefit sanctions régime would no longer target the sick and disabled. Hope that a living wage really would be enough to live on.
Hope that those out-of-towners without cars would not be effectively trapped in their homes at weekends and in the evening because of public transport cuts. Hope that the NHS would be able to cope without leaving emergency admissions on trolleys in corridors. Hope that someone would, at last, take the Climate Emergency seriously. Hope that the scourge of Universal Credit would at last be consigned to the dustbin of history.
Hope that the victims of press abuse would finally see the long-overdue completion of the Leveson Inquiry, so shamelessly ducked by the Tories in exchange for favourable coverage. Hope that bad housing, and bad landlords, would finally become a thing of the past. Hope that the Police and Fire services will be able to cope, giving security and peace of mind to everyone. Hope of an end to homelessness.
Hope that education will be resourced properly, that teachers will be supported in their work, that pupils will not have to ask parents or guardians to help pay for what should be classroom essentials. Hope of real action to challenge racism in all its forms. Hope for 1950s women that pension injustice will be acknowledged - and tackled. Hope that the divisions caused by the 2016 EU referendum can finally be healed.
After the new economic exhaustion - nine years of unremitting and needless austerity - someone has dared to hope. Those at the top of the pile will fight like fury to stop Labour coming to power. That alone tells you whose interest is served by the decade of decay that has ravaged so many towns and cities across the country.
Labour has promised us hope. Let Us Face The Future Once More.
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