Following this week’s Queen’s Speech, as Theresa May still seeks to make an unholy alliance with the DUP to create a slender Parliamentary majority, she must be reflecting on how badly her decision to call a general election – and the resulting Tory campaign of fear and division – backfired.
The longer the general election campaign went on, the clearer it became that despite the Tories doing everything they could to avoid scrutiny of the failures of seven years of austerity, people were losing trust in their message every day.
This pattern has continued since the election.
In total contrast to the Tories, and despite their supporters in the media and elsewhere trying to deflect discussion away from their record of failure with a relentlessly negative campaign against Labour and its leadership team, Labour can be proud of the campaign we ran and the gains we made.
Our 40 per cent national share of the vote was the third best share of the vote for Labour since 1974, and represented a 9.5 per cent increase in our vote share.
Over three million votes were gained since 2015 and as young people queued up to vote in Hackney North and Stoke Newington, I realised how many people we had motivated to vote for the first time.
In contrast to the Tory campaign, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour ran a strong campaign of hope, and did not let the Tories’ broken promises of the last seven years and empty promises of this campaign go unchallenged.
Across Britain, Labour’s army of members spread the word about how the public services we rely on have been starved of resources as the Tories run them down and that we simply can’t afford more of the same.
Additionally, one of the reasons why Labour’s support grew so much throughout the general election campaign was that not only did we repeatedly expose the Tory record of disappointments but also outlined how a better Britain is possible.
Our manifesto “for the many” was full of real solutions to problems created by the Tories and outlined how Labour’s policies will transform Britain and ensure economic growth through investment.
Never before on the campaign trail have I heard so many references to the manifesto or the popular policies within it.
Labour’s policies – a real living wage of £10 per hour, decent homes for all with a million new homes to rent or buy, free education and an end to university tuition fees, moving towards universal childcare by expanding free provision for two, three and four-year-olds, social care and the NHS properly funded and pensions protected – chimed with people who have had enough of the idea we can’t build a fairer society.
Whilst Labour has a clear programme for government that can bring Britain together and genuinely protect jobs and communities – it is absolutely clear that a Tory-DUP lash up cannot provide this.
This is why, as Theresa May loses authority every day, polls since the election suggest support for Labour is still growing.
Far from being strong and stable, Theresa May’s government is undoubtedly weak and wobbly, and this is before it has to make difficult decisions or outline its position on Brexit negotiations in depth.
Now, figures have shown the cost of basic essentials rising by 2.9 per cent, while wages stagnate.
Too many people are struggling to get by while Theresa May focuses on holding her unstable coalition of chaos together.
Despite some press spin to contrary, it is clear that if they can get away with it, the Tories will continue to pursue austerity, which will be bad for our economy, society and public services.
But there is another way.
The increase in Labour’s support in recent weeks has been fuelled by hope in a better Britain for the many not the few, whilst the Tories have nothing to offer but more of the same.
As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: “After seven wasted years of Tory economic failure with real wages falling behind prices, and living standards being squeezed, working people in our country simply cannot afford more of the same from Theresa May and her party.”
The fact that Theresa May’s Queen’s Speech this week had to omit most of the Tory manifesto shows that they have ran out of ideas and can’t offer Britain a way forward.
If all Theresa May’s Government can offer is permanent disarray, then they need to stand aside and let a Labour government build an economy that works for the majority of society.
The lesson of the general election campaign and the Queen’s Speech is clear. Only Labour will reverse the years of neglect of public services and real investment in our future and the country needs our policies that will create over a million new jobs, upgrading Britain’s economy to ensure the economy makes all of us richer rather than being run solely in the interests of the very rich.
Diane Abbott is the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington
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