Britain needs a united Labour Party

3 Aug 2019

 

Almost a decade of Tory rule has proved disastrous for the country. Inequality has risen dramatically, the amount of the working poor continues to increase and the NHS is a shadow of its former self. Alongside this, Britain is staring down the barrel of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit with its chief cheerleader becoming prime minister and forming a dangerous right-wing cabinet.

 

Yet despite all the tribulation that the ruling Conservative Party have inflicted upon the country, Labour is entrenched on the opposition benches in an era that has been characterised by infighting and civil war. The party seems as far away from government as any point since its exile from power but it is now imperative that Britain has a united Labour Party that can offer an alternative to perpetual Tory misery. 

 

With less than 100 days to go until the Brexit deadline, the UK is set to leave the EU without a deal. Such an eventuality is predicted to cause severe damage and this self-inflicted wound could induce a recession. The Office for Budget Responsibility predicts that the economy would shrink by 2 per cent by the end of 2020 in the event of no deal. This scenario would also result in a rise in unemployment, send house prices tumbling and prompt an increase in government borrowing. The average shopping bill for consumers is expected to increase upwards of 10 per cent.

 

The Tories are guilty of allowing the country to sleepwalk into a no-deal Brexit. This would impact the most vulnerable in society the most. Added to the woe that has already inflicted been inflicted by the Tories, it could prove fatal to the prospects of millions. If the country does leave without a deal in place on October 31st, the Tories cannot be trusted to meander the fallout. Labour needs to offer an alternative and become the party that is responsible for the post-Brexit healing process. This cannot be achieved if they continue to be plagued by infighting and scandal.

 

Much of the conflict that exists in the Labour Party can be sourced to opposition towards its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. On the other side of the spectrum, the Tories have elected an equally divisive leader. The ascension of Boris Johnson to Downing Street signifies that the hard right has taken over the party.  Any hope that Johnson would subscribe to one-nation conservatism, or that he would be the antidote to divisions in the country, were dashed when the new prime minister formed his cabinet.

 

Johnson's government is one of the most right-wing since the days of Thatcher. It is a government populated by members who wish to see capital punishment reinstated and ardent supporters of the bedroom tax. Those who find themselves with prominent positions in the cabinet have close ties to corporate lobbyists. Esther McVey, the new secretary of state for housing has links to Floreant group, a company that serves “a select group of high net worth clients”. Priti Patel, who holds one of the great offices of state in home secretary, lobbied on behalf of British American Tobacco. The campaign manager of Johnson’s leadership bid is employed by a major lobbying form called Hume Brophy, a firm has previously boasted of its ability to shape Brexit in a way desirable to big business.  

That Johson’s cabinet is right-wing and represents the interests of big business is a threat in itself. But his cabinet is also a threat to national security. He has reinstated Priti Patel who was sacked after holding secret meetings with the Israeli government. Also making a return is Gavin Williamson, the disgraced former defence secretary who is believed to have leaked confidential information relating to a National Security Council meeting. Johnson himself undermined the UK after he refused to explicitly back Sir Kim Darroch, the ambassador in Washington, after criticism from President Trump.

 

Detractors of Corbyn have long accused him of being a national security menace. Yet the Labour leader pursues policies of peace that enhance the common good. The makeup of Johnson’s cabinet suggests that its priority will be the interests of powerful corporations and financial institutions. At a crucial time for the country, Johnson will preside over a government that will serve the interests of a select few. In doing so, it will only damage Britain at home and on the world stage.

 

Since gaining power in 2010, subsequent Tory governments have inflicted a heinous amount of suffering upon the country. A recent UN report concluded that austerity, which has been at the forefront of Tory policy for the majority of this decade, has ‘inflicted great misery’ upon the nation. Conditions faced by the UK’s poor have been likened to Victorian England during the height of the industrial revolution. Instead of providing opportunity and the means for people to escape poverty, the Tories have condemned 4.5 million children to be trapped in poverty. New research suggests Brexit was a result of austerity, and with their depraved lust for no deal, the Tories show no sign of ceasing their campaign of inflicting misery upon vast swaths of the population.

 

Labour’s manifesto is full of popular, progressive policies that would go far in subverting a decade of botched Tory rule. The country badly needs a Labour government to enact policies that would be the polar opposite of what has plagued it in recent times. Ending the freeze on welfare benefits, free childcare and early years support and infrastructure investment all proved popular with the electorate in 2017. These policies will remain words on a page if Labour is unable to circumvent its current division.

 

Leaving the EU without a deal is now assumed the position by the fledgling Johnson government that will only serve the powerful. A decade of Tory rule has resulted in severe polarisation and the very real possibility that the union of the United Kingdom will cease to exist. A Labour government is needed to heal this badly broken country, but to rule, Labour must first unite.

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