Labour: the radical choice for Cambridge
Daniel Zeichner deserves your vote, argues FRED JERROME, former CULC Chair, in part four of the Tab’s new series: ‘Who to vote for in Cambridge and why you should give a shit’
This election is a choice between two paths. The last five years foreshadowed what one of them looks like: it’s the bedroom tax and zero-hour contracts, NHS privatisation and tax-cuts for millionaires, a stagnant average wage and rising inequality.
You can’t say you don’t know what you’ll get with another five years of the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat props. It’s clear – £12 billion of cuts to social security, a probable British exit from Europe, and the same one-size fits all answer to problems – more market; less government.
I do not think this is the country that you want to see as students and soon-to-be-graduates. A government that sees dealing with climate change as “green crap”, cuts science funding, and relegates more than a million people (nearly five thousand here in Cambridge) to the insecurity and indignity of food banks, is not one that’s building the society we want to be part of.
And an MP who voted for all that, who stuck like glue to George Osborne’s disastrous five austerity budgets – has he represented you? Hell. No. If there’s one thing you can say about the Lib Dem candidate’s time as MP, it’s that he had a sense of humour – not many people could keep a straight face calling themselves a “radical” and an “independent”, while supporting the most regressive politics we’ve seen since 2010.
Ultimately this is a contest of values and visions – a choice between what principles a government should be guided by. In the Labour Party we look at the country and see a place where wealth sticks to the hands of the few not the many, where work is no guarantee of security, and where concentrations of power remain unchallenged by this laissez-faire government.
Our plan nationally and in Cambridge is different.
So if you’re someone who believes in equality, then vote for a party that says “tackling inequality in income, opportunity and power…will be Labour’s mission”.
If you’re someone who wants to tackle climate change, then vote for a party that will create a million green jobs and a zero-carbon electricity supply.
If you’re someone who gets that trickle-down economics is dead then vote for a party that wholeheartedly believes “that Britain only succeeds when working people succeed” – that today prosperity isn’t fairly distributed, and the market that’s supposed to provide pay and independence has been broken, producing only insecurity and speculation. Whether in transport or energy or homes, we need a government that understands the need to build markets that incentivise the best not the worst.
Here in Cambridge, your Labour candidate Daniel Zeichner has pledged to make Cambridge a living wage city (building on the work our Labour council has already done), to fight homelessness that’s unacceptable in this rich city, to stamp out sexual harassment in clubs and pubs, to make mental health a priority not an afterthought, and to make himself accountable to students, so your MP can never again hide his votes for terrible policies like raising interest rates on student loans, selling off public forests, and cutting legal aid.
This is the Labour way: fighting inequality, making a concrete difference to people’s lives, and rebuilding trust in politics. Let’s not forget that if Ed Miliband wins on Thursday, he’ll be the first PM to have done so without the backing of the Murdoch press since 1974. Instead we’ve got Owen Jones, Professor Hawking, and somewhat unexpectedly, Russell Brand. There are worse places to start from.
Having spent countless afternoons talking to students across colleges and lectures sites, I know the frustration lots of us have about Labour sometimes. Our voting system is crap – you know it, I know it, Daniel Zeichner knows it. The negative case of “don’t let the coalition back in” cannot be enough for a radical party like Labour – and it isn’t. Balancing national appeal against the desire to be more transformative is never easy, but when the IFS says the difference in spending plans between Labour and the Tories is the biggest for more than twenty years (i.e a significant section of the university wasn’t born the last time the choice was this clear), then I hope you’ll come with me when I say you can vote Labour knowing it’s a bold, progressive decision.
Labour has a raft of radical policies that it’s ready to put into action on May 8 – and that’s the fundamental thing about voting Labour at this election: it’s the only party with a thoroughgoing analysis of where things are going wrong and how we can fix them. Labour’s policies aren’t more of the same nor tweaks round the edges nor a set of aspirations dreamt up in a seminar room. The manifesto is a change of direction that doesn’t promise to sort everything in five years – you’re not daft enough to believe anyone could do that anyway – but rather, to steal a phrase, “a long term plan” for a Britain where people, not market, are in charge.
Is this the sort of thing you can get behind? Then get out and vote on Thursday, and for god’s sake vote Labour.