Vote Labour On June 8th

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On June 8th the British public will go to the polls to vote on who form the next government of the United Kingdom. The Conservative party has spent the last seven years hammering the country with ideologically-imposed austerity in the form of savage cuts to public services. The Tories ask us to trust them with our economy, but they have borrowed more since 2010 than every Labour government in history, combined. They bang on about reducing the deficit but have managed to treble the national debt. In their election manifesto, they offer only more of the same; cuts upon cuts, but deeper and more targeted than ever before. For a party that has relied on the votes of the elderly for decades, their attacks on pensioners show either an unbelievable arrogance (‘They’ll vote for us anyway so we can do what we like!’) or an unforgivable incompetence (‘We’re too stupid to realise we’re damaging our chances, here!’). Neither is a good thing for a government to be. Theresa May will have you believe she is ‘Strong And Stable’ but she has proven throughout the campaign that she is anything but. Britain deserves better.

By contrast, the Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn is offering a manifesto ‘For The Many, Not The Few’. With proposed tax increases for the richest five percent of earners (if you earn less than £80,000 a year you will not pay a penny more in tax) and a return to 2011-levels of Corporation Tax, Labour has a fully-costed and independently checked plan to fund Britain’s future. With Brexit looming and a Conservative party that believes No Deal would be an acceptable outcome of the negotiations with the EU, Labour promises that its Brexit team – headed up by Keir Starmer QC – will assure the very best deal possible for Britain. Thanks to the higher Corporation Tax rates and the fact that the richest among us will be asked to pay a little more, Labour is able to offer fully-costed plans to scrap University Tuition Fees, provide free school meals for every Primary School child in the country and work towards creating a National Care Service to work alongside our National Health Service (which, by the way, will receive billions in extra funding). The Labour and Tory manifestos are as different as chalk and cheese.

I have been characteristically vocal about the choice on offer, online and ‘in real life’. I don’t believe the country has ever had a more graspable opportunity to make a real change in the way things are in this country. Without Jeremy Corbyn, we would never have the manifesto Labour has offered up – a manifesto that was agreed upon, democratically, by all wings of the party. The polls – if you dare believe them – show that Labour, behind the Tories by a massive twenty-nine percent when the election was announced, are now only six points behind (one or two polls have Labour trailing by only three percentage points). People are loving Labour’s policies and, whatever you think of the leader, are now seeing that a Labour government is what this country sorely needs. It is for this reason – the fabulous manifesto, the hopeful message and, in my opinion, their outstanding and refreshingly compassionate leader – I will be voting Labour on June 8th. I would urge you to do the same. If you already plan to vote as I do, please get on the phone to your friends and relatives, have conversations and change minds!

It’s never been more important to set aside personal grudges and come together as a united front against the Tories. If you’re usually a Green voter and the party has graciously decided not to stand a candidate in your constituency, they’ve done so for one reason and one reason only: to assure the party best-placed to beat the Tories in that seat get the most support possible. Please, vote Labour. If you’re a Liberal Democrat voter historically, but they’re coming fourth or fifth in your constituency then vote Labour. Please do all you can to assure not just that Labour can win but that the Tories lose seats. If on June 9th we wake to the news that the Tories have lost out on the majority they so desperately need and that Labour is seeking to form a government then I will cry. I’ll cry if we lose, too. Whatever happens on the morning of June 9th, I’ll be crying; that much is for sure.

We have a week. Just one week. Get out there, start chatting to people, contact your local Labour office and volunteer to knock doors or deliver leaflets! Do all you can to help Labour win this election. It’s not going to be easy to do, but we can do this. Don’t give up, but also don’t get complacent. Take nothing for granted and always remember that we are fighting for every single vote. Hope is a wonderful thing to have when it comes to inspiring us to do more, but be prepared for any outcome. And think of it like this: Even if Labour does lose this election, even if the Tories bafflingly get reelected, the upward surge in the polls, the narrative-changing policy, the excitement we are feeling in the air (and it’s there! You can feel something in the air!) is all to do with the Left. We were told Jeremy couldn’t win the leadership because he was too left wing. Then he won. We were told after he was challenged again, that he was more unelectable than the first time. Then he won again, with an increased majority. They’ve told us all along that the left cannot win this election. If they are right, at least we know we’re up to the fight. June 9th isn’t the end of anything, except hopefully the Tories. June 9th can be the very beginning of the end of the status quo. ‘Things can, and they will change’ as the man himself said.

So vote Labour on June 8th and let’s elect a government for the many, not the few.

All Together Now!

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A little over a month ago Theresa May announced that there would be a snap general election held on June 8th. If you’d asked anyone then what Labour’s chances of winning that election were the answer would have been “next to no chance at all”. Some may still hold that view but things have changed greatly between then and now.

Labour was polling in the low-20s when the election was called with the Tories somewhere in the mid to late-40s. In that time (in fact, in the last week) the Tories’ lead has been halved. They’re scraping the low- to mid-40s now, with Labour closing fast somewhere around the mid-30s. Today, polling shows that, in Wales, Labour are ten points ahead of the Tories, who just two weeks ago were in lead. The tide is turning and it’s not all to do with the excellent policies and dedicated activists Labour have under their belt.

When the Conservative manifesto was published just five days ago it contained a Social Care policy proposal that was so universally disagreeable, so fundamentally toxic, that even some Tory MPs distanced themselves from it. Today, less than a week later, Theresa May went on TV and had a breakdown, rolling back on the policy details. The cap on care costs that was rejected on live TV by Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as being “unfair and unnecessary”. Today that cap has been pencilled into the margins of the manifesto.

Theresa May’s dreadful performance, on both the podium of her own press conference and her interview with Andrew Neil, proved definitively that she is less Strong and Stable and more Weak and Wobbly. “Nothing has changed!!” she yelled, but that’s not true. And the lies just keep on coming. The Conservatives’ Twitter account claimed that a Labour government would raise the income tax rate to 25p for working families – a blatant untruth. Why are they lying? Because they’re losing.

I fully expect the poll surge Labour are seeing continue. I fully expect to see Theresa May’s personal approval ratings plummet. Can Labour win this election? If we continue to put pressure on the Tories, calling out their lies and revealing their cruelty, and I think it can. It still won’t be easy, but it is doable. Things feel as though they’re changing. I’m feeling hopeful. Even if Labour do not win the election, I think it’s going to be much, much closer than the Tories think.

I’ve been wrong in the past and there’s a while to go yet. But I’m out there every day, fighting for my party. Please also do what you can – spread the word about Labour’s policies and have as many conversations as you can with anyone you can. We can do this. We really can.

Dr Who: Oxygen Took My Breath Away

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Once in a while Doctor Who throws out an episode that really hits the mark. For me, ‘Vincent And The Doctor’ was sublime and has been my favourite episode for some time. I think tonight’s episode ‘Oxygen’ has just knocked it off my personal top spot. It felt like Doctor Who should feel. It had it all: mystery, scares, pace and some killer twists. It also had a great message which I’ll return to in a moment.

This episode had me hooked from the very first scene. I cared immediately about the (admittedly thin) supporting characters and they didn’t get in the way of a great dynamic between our Tardisbound Trio. Talking of whom, I adore Bill Potts. I love her. She’s exactly the kick up the arse the series has been waiting for; one of the most human companions the show has seen since Rose buggered off. Also along for the ride proper, this time, was Nardole. And I loved him too. He’s clever, in-the-know. With a Doctor as aloof as Capaldi’s often is it’s nice to have someone almost as clever as our lead to explain things to the companion (and us) in understandable terms.

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Space zombies have been done before. Sentient space suits have been done before. The claustrophobic ‘base under siege’ thing has been done before. Doctor Who has told every story a thousand times but the beauty of the show is that it manages to retell them in a way that makes everything feel new again. ‘Oxygen’ managed to make its space zombies in sentient suits a secondary threat to the ideology of those responsible for the mess.

Capitalism is the big bad here, with the very air we breathe being sold at extortionate rates in Jamie Mathieson’s masterpiece. And if the company deems you’re wasting your breath by not being productive enough they’ll simply switch you off and get someone else. I won’t go deeper into the plot here because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but let’s talk about “that twist ending” for a moment, but in code: Surely such a massive alteration to the Doctor’s situation must play into the wider scheme of things, right? It isn’t a throwaway thing. This is a deliberate and fundamental change to the way he will function as a character in the next few episodes. I can’t wait to see what the show does with it.

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I loved everything about this episode. It was the best yet in a series of very strong stories. It’s such a shame that Capaldi will be leaving us since he’s every inch the Doctor in this current series. Pearl Mackie too is going to be sorely missed if/when she leaves us at the end of this run. I don’t know, maybe we’re just appreciating what we’ve got a little more now we know we don’t have it for much longer. Either way, I’m loving each and every step this team takes. I hope Chris Chibnall is able to capture this lightning in his bottle and zap it through his own TARDIS crew.

I’m going to go and watch this week’s episode again because it really is that bloody good. Next week sees the return of Missy, along with some rather creepy-looking monks, in a story set in the bowels of the Vatican. I’ve heard good things about it so, hopefully, it’ll deliver. And as for what the series has in store for us in the last couple of episodes; let’s just say a little bird told me that you’d better brace yourselves, because we’re in for one hell of an emotional and thrill-laden ride. You have been warned.