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'If Theresa May holds on to power, it will be the end of the NHS and the welfare state'

Corbyn’s Labour provides the only hope for those who wish to improve living standards for the majority in the UK, writes Rob Winkel.

Rob Winkel Freelance writer

AS THE UK now heads for the June 8 general election in the wake of local elections, commentators are discussing not whether the Labour party will lose, but rather what the scale of the loss will be. After all, following Labour’s poor performance in the local elections, the outlook is looking bleak.

It is worth considering, however, that the Conservative lead over Labour was 11% in the local elections, not quite the 20% lead that they were said to have had just a few weeks ago. Things can change fast during election season.

Theresa May’s hope is that some of the mud thrown at Jeremy Corbyn over the last two years will stick for long enough to do sufficient damage to Labour in the general election. The Conservatives will not risk a televised debate, preferring to fight the election by stoking fear rather than by debating policy.

They are now enjoying victory over UKIP, having essentially wiped them out at council level and re-absorbed the hard-right ideology which originated in the first place within their own party.

The Tory effect

The complications that Brexit brings are overshadowing the scrutiny to which incumbents are normally subjected to at election time. It is difficult to overstate the destructive effect that the Tories have had on UK society since 2010.

Thousands of people have died (some having taken their own lives) after being declared “fit for work” and having benefits removed. Now Irish Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar wishes to start a similar war on social welfare in Ireland.

The main bulwark against Tory cuts over the last two years has been Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, whose leadership has scored a number of progressive victories in Westminster, significantly stopping Conservative plans to cut tax credits for millions of families in 2015.

On foreign policy, Corbyn’s opposition pressured David Cameron into cancelling a contract for British expertise to be employed in the running of prisons in deeply repressive Saudi Arabia.

Ridiculing Corbyn

With Conservative policies so disastrous for the majority of UK citizens, it is little surprise that many on the right have been lining up to ridicule Corbyn. The onslaught against the Labour leader has been one of truly unprecedented proportions.

Numerous academic studies have found that most corners of the UK media have disproportionately attacked the Labour party, while the UK’s Media Reform Coalition found last year that there is a “huge imbalance” against Corbyn in television coverage of UK politics. Labour’s dismal local election results can be at least in part attributed to this.

This election is about the nature of the Brexit that takes place and much more. The UK faces a number of crises – not unlike those faced in Ireland – which are spurring the growth of the low-wage precarious work economy and putting basic needs such as housing, healthcare and education increasingly out of reach for many.

Western politics has shifted to the right

Labour has a set of coherent policies to address these, which may seem radical in today’s political climate but would have been right at home at the centre of British politics just a few decades ago.

This should be a good indicator of just how far western politics have moved to the right in recent years. If Theresa May holds on to power, it will signal the beginning of the end for what is left the NHS and the welfare state.

There is much at stake in the next five weeks, and right now Corbyn’s Labour provides the only hope for those who wish to improve living standards for the majority in the UK.

There is no doubt that this will be a huge uphill struggle for those fighting for progressive change. But the alternative, for anyone who finds themselves on the receiving end of Tory austerity, will be socially devastating.

Rob Winkel is a freelance writer.

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About the author:

Rob Winkel  / Freelance writer

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