Strong week… and a brighter future

Strong week… and a brighter future

They were the seven days that shook the world. Or, at least, the British political world as viewed by the “experts”.

For those of us who had championed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership from the start, it was a sweet moment when the clock struck 10pm and David Dimbleby read out the findings of the 2017 general election exit poll.

After two years of being abused and ridiculed for backing a man who was “unelectable”, we were finally vindicated.

Of course, it would have been even better to win outright but, despite the churlishness of Labour MP Chris Leslie (and the laughable claim by a former Tony Blair adviser that the election had been “easily winnable”), this was a result of historic proportions.

Literally. This was the biggest increase in any party’s general election vote since Clement

Attlee’s landslide victory in 1945. It was the first time Labour had made a net gain of seats since Blair’s first win in 1997.

Labour got 40% of the vote. To put that in context, Blair comfortably won the 2005 general election with a 35% share.

John McDonnell reckons that Labour would have overtaken Theresa May’s Tories with just two more weeks of campaigning.

May was expecting a huge majority and told us she was the only leader who could safely negotiate Brexit but, a week later, she is still struggling to do a deal with a fringe party that will give her a workable government.

It was an extraordinary achievement for Labour.

But just think how much greater the achievement might have been if the MPs who gave Corbyn a standing ovation when he returned to the Commons had got behind him from the start.

Labour were still leading the Tories by one point at the local elections in May last year. The post-referendum coup by the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) not only wiped out that lead, but meant the party began this year’s campaign at least 20 points behind.

I have written before about how we therapists use a technique known as priming. It is very simple: if you suggest to someone that something will happen, then it is much more likely that something will actually happen.

Imagine the collective effect on the electorate of being told repeatedly that Corbyn was unelectable – not just by the Tories and their friends in the media but also by his own party colleagues.

Blair, Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell and any number of MPs were given the freedom of the media to dismiss Corbyn as a no-hoper who would destroy the party.

His PLP enemies kept saying this was an issue that came up on the doorsteps. Of course it did – and they had encouraged it.

When I went knocking on doors during the election campaign, I did hear a small number of people saying they wouldn’t vote for a party led by Corbyn. Why? They didn’t really know. They just knew it. People are influenced by what they hear – and what they heard from so many Labour MPs was that they shouldn’t vote Labour.

Add to that all the anti-Labour messages that were gleefully passed on by an ever-grateful Tory press (and even the BBC):

:: The Tories would win a huge majority (as much as 150, according to one Daily Telegraph story – though even that would have been less than Labour’s 1997 majority of 179).

:: Labour were going to be wiped out and their vote share could even drop into the teens.

:: The Lib Dems were going to pick up huge numbers of Labour votes with their EU stance.

:: Labour was going to be crushed by the Tories in Wales.

:: Labour would win nothing in Scotland.

None of this happened.

And the funny thing is that none of the experts saw this failing to happen – even though it was in plain sight.

While Theresa May crept around the country from one stage-managed set-up to another, Corbyn was out there in full view, talking to ever bigger crowds.

TV viewers might have struggled to see this, as the broadcasters’ interpretation of “impartiality” rules meant they gave equal weight to Corbyn speaking to a crowd of 20,000 people chanting his name as they did to May talking to 30 party members in a locked warehouse.

But those of us who witnessed it could see something big was going on. When Corbyn visited my home town, on a weekday lunchtime, he had to deliver his speech twice – once

JCHebdenBridge

indoors, then again from a balcony outside – because there were far too many people to get in the hall. Crowds lined both sides of the river, and some people even waded in to hear him speak.

And it wasn’t just Corbyn. The election campaign made stars of other shadow ministers such as Emily Thornberry and Barry Gardiner.

This was pretty much unprecedented in modern politics. Yet even then most of the press failed to spot what was happening.

The reason?

Because they didn’t want to see it. And they didn’t want to see it because that wasn’t the story they wanted to write. Their agenda was the one described above: a Tory landslide, the crushing of Labour, and the humiliation of Jeremy Corbyn.

I have been a journalist for 40 years, and I know how these things work. Only this time it didn’t work the way it was supposed to.

May’s Tories won the biggest number of seats but this did not feel like a victory for her most enthusiastic press backers. John Prescott tweeted on election night that he heard Rupert Murdoch had stormed out of the Sun’s party when he heard the exit poll.

Murdoch famously likes backing winners, and on the night of June 8, Theresa May did NOT look like a winner.

The decline in the political influence of the national press has been predicted for some time, but this election was almost certainly the first in which social media were more important than the traditional media.

Interestingly, a poll by Survation (one of the companies that accurately predicted the election result) suggested two days afterwards that Labour already held a SIX-POINT lead.

And this is priming in action again. Many people didn’t vote Labour because they had

popularity

been convinced that Corbyn was unelectable and that Labour were going to be heavily defeated.

When they saw this demonstrably wasn’t the case, and that the “strong and stable” May had been proved to be just weak, they switched their support.

And that could make future elections more interesting. We have no idea when the next one will come, but it’s quite conceivable that it could be before the end of the year.

If Labour are still in the lead and looking popular, what is Murdoch to do?

He was able to back Labour in 1997 because – whether or not there was a pact between them – he knew Blair would do nothing to damage his business interests. But he certainly wouldn’t have the same expectation of a Corbyn government.

So would he continue to back the Tories, knowing they were likely to lose?

It would be very painful for him…especially if he knew his once-mighty papers had lost their ability to influence the voters.

One thing is certain. The neoliberal consensus of the past 38 years has been smashed and the British political scene is now irrevocably changed – by a man who was derided as being weak and having no electoral appeal.

The experts might not have seen this coming, but those of us who joined or rejoined the Labour Party in the last two years did.

Seven days have passed since the election, and Britain already looks a very different place. With a leader who is now regarded as electable after all, the Labour Party has everything to play for.

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Hope or lies… it’s your choice

Hope or lies… it’s your choice

It’s make-your-mind-up time… and it’s a simple choice: the positivity and hope of Labour or the lies and negativity of the Conservatives.

For many of us, it’s hard to believe there can still be any doubt. After the dishonest shambles of this Tory general election campaign, how could anyone even consider voting for them?

This is the party that called the election out of the blue – then seemed surprised by it. While Labour was quick out of the blocks, announcing popular policies on a daily basis, the Tories were dithering around, struggling to find anything to suggest that might appeal to anyone.

It is quite clear now that Theresa May put all her faith in opinion polls, allowing her vanity to believe what they told her about her popularity and Jeremy Corbyn’s unpopularity. Those figures, we now know, were based on her keeping her head down and doing as little as possible – first as home secretary, then as prime minister – and on two years of media smearing of her opponent.

Many of us believed that as soon as she was put under a spotlight and everyone saw her for what she really was, that popularity would begin to erode.

 

And so it has.

May has been shown up for what she really is: an empty vessel with nothing to say and no ideas.

Her election strategists imagined that all they needed to do was go through the motions of an election campaign, shielding May from the public and any encounters with opposition politicians. They clearly thought the media would do such a job on Corbyn that it was unnecessary even to bother putting together a proper manifesto.

It is hard to avoid comparing them to the generals who ordered British soldiers to walk across no-man’s-land on the Somme in 1916 – wrongly believing the Germans had already been defeated and would offer no resistance.

They were totally, and fatally, wrong. And Tory “election genius” Lynton Crosby was just as wrong.

If Theresa May thought she could stroll to victory without a shot being fired, she under-estimated the British people.

She now has a permanent shell-shocked look, as though she knows she has made a terrible error and wishes she could just return to her trench and keep her head down. She knows she has been wounded, perhaps fatally.

Of course, we do not yet know what the election result will be. May might yet increase

Maymeme

her majority. But even if she does, she will know she has been in a fight… and that she wasn’t really the winner.

Opinions polls have suggested a tight result is possible but a big question mark hangs over their accuracy.

Since the 2015 debacle, when the polls turned out to be completely wrong, polling companies have changed their methods to adjust for “shy” Tory voters. Logic suggests that this might now weight the numbers in the opposite direction, giving the Conservatives artificially high figures, but we will have to see.

What is indisputable is that the numbers have shifted dramatically: veteran psephologist Sir David Butler says he has never seen such a change in any election he has studied since 1945.

Anything could still happen…and that is why this has turned into such a fascinating contest.

Even though many of us think it is no contest at all.

May and her foreign secretary Boris Johnson have demeaned their positions by lying, deliberately, about Corbyn and Labour. They should be ashamed.

The Conservative Party has constantly lied, publishing tweets about Labour’s plans that are simply made up.

As for the Tories’ media attack dogs, they have continued their dishonest campaign, building up to a last-minute frenzy of ridiculous smears.

They don’t seem to have learnt: the more they have attempted to smear Corbyn, the stronger he has become. It brings to mind that old definition of insanity – continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different result.

As for Labour, they have fought a positive and honest campaign. Corbyn has stuck to his principles of not resorting to negativity and insults. He has answered questions put to him by interviewers – something that is almost unheard-of these days. He has clearly grown in stature and confidence.

In scenes that recall the “Corbyn-mania” of the 2015 Labour leadership election, he has spoken to huge crowds while May has been sneaked into near-empty halls to speak to small numbers of selected Tory members.

Whatever happens in the election, Corbyn has shown he is a winner.

 

How can there still be any doubt?

Voting for the Tories makes no sense unless you are the owner of the Daily Mail or a billionaire tax exile, or both. Ordinary people voting Tory is like turkeys voting for Christmas.

On the other hand, a vote for Labour is a vote for hope, a vote for a better future for all of us, and a vote that makes sense.

Labour CAN win, but only if everyone goes to the polling station and makes this the highest general election turnout for years.

Don’t depend on others to save the country for you.

Get out there – and VOTE LABOUR.

Get off your ‘lazy arses’ and vote!

Get off your ‘lazy arses’ and vote!

“Under-30s love Corbyn but they don’t care enough to get off their lazy arses to vote for him!”

This message from a Tory candidate and MP of 10 years, reported anonymously by Huffington Post, could not be more provocative – or more inspirational.

You don’t need a great deal of faith in opinion polls to know the first part of what he said is true. Labour’s lead over the Tories among the under-25s is an astonishing 57%, according to YouGov last week.

But is he right about the second part?

Younger voters have traditionally been less enthusiastic than their parents and grandparents about actually going into the polling booths.

The result is that opinion poll companies – attempting to recover from their debacle at the 2015 general election – have now heavily weighted their results to discount much of the youth vote.

Last Friday’s poll in London’s Evening Standard gave the Tories a five-point lead over Labour, at 45 to 40, even though the raw survey data put Labour in the lead by 42 to 40.

So the big question is: will the younger voters repeat what happened two years ago and not turn up? Will they share memes and videos on social media but then fail to “get off their lazy arses”?

This is the big question that could decide whether Theresa May gets the increased majority she was expecting when she called this snap election – or whether Jeremy Corbyn, the man who two years ago was the 200-1 outsider even to become Labour leader, walks into No 10 on Friday.

Until recently, that prospect was almost unthinkable. Certainly, the Tories, the media and much of the parliamentary Labour Party thought it was a laughable idea.

 

They are not laughing now.

And that Tory candidate put his finger on the reason why: young people love Jeremy Corbyn.

I saw this enthusiasm first-hand when Corbyn visited my home town. There was a massive crush to hear him speak (so much so that he had to repeat his speech outside to all those – including some who waded across the river – who couldn’t get into the hall).

Among the crowd were loads of excited teenagers, some of them too young even to vote. One woman told me she hoped the TV cameras wouldn’t catch sight of her son as he and his mates were so desperate to see Corbyn that they had bunked off school.

Hard to believe this enthusiasm for a leader who is not so far off 70 years old.

Of course, young people kind of liked Ed Miliband too, but not enough for them all to do something about it.

 

This time it seems they are taking action.

Everyone recognised early on that younger voters held the key to this election, so all the major parties pushed hard to get as many as possible registered to vote before the May 22 deadline.

All the major parties, that is, except the Tories. They made no effort at all to encourage a voter registration drive – and that’s all you need to know about what they fear more than anything else.

What they fear is what actually happened: a quarter of a million under-25s registered online to vote on the last possible day. Two million under-34s registered in the five weeks leading up to the deadline.

Those voters have the power to change the future of this country for the better, so if you are one of them, here is my appeal to you.

Vote! Get your friends to vote! Don’t let any of them say they can’t be bothered.

Voting is very simple and it takes no time at all. You just go to your local polling station (you don’t even need your polling card), your name will be ticked off the list and they will give you a ballot paper.

Take it into the booth, put a cross next to the candidate of your choice with the pencil provided, fold it and drop it into the box. That’s it.

 

But why not make a day of it?

Hold an all-day general election party if necessary to get all your friends voting. Then stay up to watch the results.

And while you are about it, talk your parents and grandparents into voting this government out too. If they aren’t sure, win them over with your enthusiasm, as my daughters did to me.

This is a special and all too rare opportunity.

For too long people have got out of voting by saying the parties and the leaders “are all the same”. This time they definitely aren’t. This time there is a genuine alternative to the politics of misery that have been forced on us for the past 40 years.

Vote for hope. Vote for a better future. Vote for free university education. Even vote for Corbyn’s Labour Party because you like grime or because Kerrang! put him on the front cover. But whatever you vote for…just vote!

‘I believe that, in the end, good will triumph’

‘I believe that, in the end, good will triumph’

“If they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

Margaret Thatcher didn’t say many things that are worth quoting, but she was dead right on that count. You only have to look at this general election campaign.

The Tories have absolutely nothing positive to say – all they do is launch personal attacks on Jeremy Corbyn.

Their campaign from the start has been all about Theresa May v Jeremy Corbyn as they clearly believed the polls that told them she was far more popular than him.

You’d think by now that everyone would be treating opinion polls a little more sceptically. You might even think that Tory strategists would have realised that those approval/disapproval figures were based on an extended honeymoon period of inactivity on the one side and two years of constant media attacks on the other.

You didn’t have to be a political genius to realise that those numbers would start to shift once both party leaders were given a chance to put themselves in front of the voters. And they have shifted. Elections expert Sir David Butler said: “The movement in the polls over this campaign is bigger than in any election I’ve covered since 1945.”

Have the Tories miscalculated by making the election all about their “strong and stable” leader?

We hear that they are now fighting among themselves over the direction of their campaign, but one thing seems pretty sure:

 

They are not going to start fighting more cleanly.

There is certainly little sign of their negative, abusive campaigning being toned down.

We have had several Tory “heavyweights”, including Amber Rudd, Michael Fallon and Boris Johnson, queuing up to suggest we can expect more terror attacks like the Manchester atrocity if Corbyn becomes prime minister. That is a disgraceful thing to suggest – and also a bit rich, considering the bombing took place on THEIR watch after THEY slashed the numbers of police, of armed officers, and of sniffer dogs and their handlers.

May lied openly and deliberately about what Corbyn said in his speech when she gave a press conference at the G7 summit. Is that an appropriate thing for a British prime minister to do?

We hear constantly too of Corbyn’s alleged support for terrorists around the world, especially in Ireland and Palestine, despite his constant patient denials.

And that is the interesting thing. Whatever is thrown at him, Corbyn remains patient and courteous.

It has been suggested that he could easily have sued for libel, as many of the claims about him are outright lies, though of course his opponents know perfectly well that a politician is unlikely to seek legal redress during an election campaign.

More probably, he could have defended himself by slinging the mud back – and there are plenty of issues he COULD have used if he wanted to get personal with his accusers. But he hasn’t.

He decided early on that he wasn’t going to go down that route, which is admirable, though it can of course be frustrating for those of us who support him.

Now, however, it appears to be paying dividends. His personal approval ratings are growing as May’s plummet, and Labour is closing in on the Tories in a way that few “experts” predicted.

Some voters, of course, will never see past the smokescreen thrown up by the papers they read, but many are now realising that Corbyn is a man of principle with a positive message to spread.

They see a man who is determined to change the views of those who say: “Politicians are all the same.” A man who is enthusing young voters – among whom Labour now hold a 57-point lead – with his refreshing approach to politics.

Everywhere he goes, he attracts huge crowds – while May continues to hide away.

Some feared that his speech after the Manchester bombing would be seen as opportunistic, and inevitably it drew further abuse from the Tories and their attack dogs in the media. It was a gamble, but because people could see that this was a long-held view and not a sudden change of heart in response to the atrocity, it seems that abuse has not hurt him.

 

I am going to quote Thatcher again here.

She once said: “If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”

Corbyn has been honest and consistent over his three decades in Parliament and has rarely compromised. It hasn’t always made him popular, but maybe his time for that has now come.

Because here is another thing he might have said – though again it was actually said by Thatcher:

“I am in politics because of the conflict between good and evil and I believe that, in the end, good will triumph.”

The Tories have been running an evil campaign of lies, slander and innuendo.

We can only hope that Corbyn’s campaign of honesty and positivity – a powerful force for good – will triumph on June 8.

Will the turkeys vote for Christmas?

Will the turkeys vote for Christmas?

So the choice is now clear: a Tory manifesto that is uncosted and promises at least another eight years of grim austerity – or a Labour alternative that is fully costed and offers us all hope.

Hardly a difficult decision to make.

Yet if the opinion polls are to be believed, despite a surge in support for Labour, the Conservatives are still on course to win.

Theresa May clearly believes those polls. How else to explain the fact that she has decided to dump on pensioners, the one demographic that always votes and has therefore been largely protected from government cuts?

By removing the triple lock on pensions, means-testing the winter fuel allowance and leaving us all to fund our own care in the future – the “dementia tax” – she can at least make one truthful boast: we ARE now all in it together.

I say all, but I am really just talking about the majority of the population that May likes to patronise as “ordinary’ people.

We “ordinary” people can look forward to more of the same – and worse – if the Tories get back in on June 8.

And that is the big mystery.

Seven years of austerity, many thousands of jobs cut, the biggest squeeze on pay for 70 years, the removal of safety nets that allowed sick and vulnerable people to survive…and now the “triple whammy” attack on pensioners. But many still say they intend to vote Tory.

What kind of con trick is being played on the people of Britain?

The nation’s debt has doubled as living standards have fallen – yet many “ordinary” people seem more concerned about the threat to the wealthy.

You will no doubt have heard this: “But if we put up the top rates of tax, the best-paid people will leave the country.”

Like we should care!

Where do they think all these well-paid people are going to go? Do they imagine they will all give up those well-paid jobs in a hissy fit and move to somewhere they don’t speak the language, can’t get a job, and where, most likely, tax rates are higher than in the UK?

People who struggle to make ends meet have been convinced that they should be worried about what will happen to poor businesses if corporation tax goes up.

But just remember this: if Labour get in and raise corporation tax, as promised, we would still have the lowest corporation tax of any of the world’s richest G7 countries.

So stop worrying about the rich – they can look after themselves. And you can bet the last pound coin in your purse that they will. They always do.

It’s time to get selfish for a moment.

Worried about paying more income tax? Well, vote Labour and unless you earn more than £80,000 a year, you WON’T pay more. That’s 95% of you.

Don’t worry about the other 5% – they can afford it.

Had enough of austerity? Haven’t we all? And Labour is offering a route out of it.

What are the Tories offering? More of the same. George Osborne told us in 2010 that if we accepted his austerity plans, the books would be balanced by 2015. They weren’t. Now the Tories are telling us we must wait until 2025 for that.

That’s another eight years of belt-tightening. Another eight years of rising national debt before we can even think of paying it off. That’s if you believe them… and based on past experience, why should you?

Tories are also promising to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Well, I say “promising” – that is actually an “aim”, according to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. Which is odd, as they promised that in 2010 and again in 2015. Last year, net immigration was 273,000, so how likely is “tens of thousands”?

And that assumes it would be a good idea – WHICH IT ISN’T.

A Global Future report – backed by British employers – said this week that we need at least 200,000  immigrants a year to avoid the “catastrophic economic consequences” linked to Brexit.

Putting that another way, cutting immigration – just to attract Ukip voters – is yet another way the Tories aim to make YOUR life worse. Without the contribution immigrants make to our economy we will all be worse off.

As our young children will be when their free school meals are removed – a policy described by school food campaigner Jamie Oliver as “a disgrace”.

And coming back to those pensioners who are being hit this time round, taking the winter fuel allowance from the better-off might sound like a good idea on the face of it. But there are no details attached and the Resolution Foundation has estimated that the only way to do this and save money would mean robbing 10 MILLION pensioners.

That’s a lot of pensioners being given a reason NOT to vote Tory.

All in all, it’s a pretty grim manifesto containing little that would encourage anyone to vote Conservative – unless you really think fox-hunting should be brought back.

I’ve even seen a conspiracy theory that May actually wants to lose the election, though that seems a bit far-fetched. More likely, she is so over-confident that she feels she doesn’t even have to bother making an effort.

Putting it more bluntly, she is just taking the piss – at your expense.

So why should anyone who is not already wealthy want to vote Tory?

Beats me, when Labour offers a vision that is so much brighter and more positive.

Voting Tory at this election conjures up an image of turkeys voting for Christmas.

I doubt any foxes will be voting Conservative – but if you are thinking of doing so, I would suggest thinking very hard about WHY before heading to the polling station.

Seven Tory myths – and how to bust them

Seven Tory myths – and how to bust them

The Conservatives have always been a party of myth-builders and, of course, most of the British print media have been happy to help them. Those myths have become ingrained – so it is not uncommon to hear them repeated on doorsteps and in conversations with friends.

I recently suggested on Facebook that some people had become brainwashed into believing the Tory lies about Jeremy Corbyn – and received indignant protests from friends claiming they had arrived at their views all by themselves. But when I asked them HOW they were so certain of “facts” they repeated and where their evidence came from, they were completely stumped.

Of course, there are many things the Tories and their friends would like everyone to believe, but here are seven of the myths you will probably come across.

And, more importantly, some myth-busting facts you might like to use in any argument.

 

  1. Only the Tories can be trusted with the economy

We’ve all heard this one: “Labour crashed the economy.” This was the myth that was fostered by George Osborne after the 2010 general election in the vacuum that existed while Labour elected a new leader.

Many of us spent the whole of that parliament and the 2015 election campaign waiting for Labour to fight back, but as Alex Nunns points out in The Candidate, his excellent book about Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, party strategists believed that was an argument that was irretrievably lost.

Now it is impossible for Labour to propose a new policy without everyone demanding: “Ah, but how much will it cost? More borrowing?” As though Labour was the party of borrowing.

But hang on… David Cameron’s government borrowed more in the first three years after 2010 than Labour had borrowed in THIRTEEN years in government.

The Tories have borrowed more since 2010 than every Labour government put together.

Labour rebuilt schools and hospitals and got Britain out of the global banking crisis. What’s the Tories’ excuse?

Of course, borrowing isn’t all bad. Despite what Osborne tried to make us think, national economies are not like domestic economies. Nations – and businesses – need to borrow to invest, and interest rates are at a historically low rate. But what have the austerity Tories invested in over the past seven years?

Ah, but the Tories have reduced the deficit, haven’t they? The debt is shrinking, isn’t it?

No! This was Osborne’s sleight of hand, telling everyone he had reduced the deficit. But the deficit isn’t the debt – it’s just the difference between income and expenditure. So a reduced deficit means the national debt is still growing, and – depending on which measure you adopt – the national debt has doubled since the Tories came to power. Like I said, what’s THEIR excuse?

And if anyone asks how Labour can afford its manifesto promises, bear this in mind: just as in 2105, Labour has asked for the manifestos of all the parties to be scrutinised by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility.

The Tories have refused. Draw your own conclusions from that.

 

2. The Tories are strong on defence

Conservatives can be trusted with defending our nation, while Jeremy Corbyn just wants to disband the army, right?

Wrong.

The Tories are so weak on defence that our army is now the smallest it has been since we were fighting Napoleon. That’s because they have been laying off soldiers as part of the “austerity” spending cuts.

Yes, but Theresa May has said she will unilaterally launch a nuclear strike, hasn’t she?

And that is true. But first of all, we couldn’t do that without the say-so of the Americans – and who believes anyway that launching a nuclear strike would make us safer?

May enthusiastically barked “Yes” when asked in the Commons if she would launch a nuclear strike even if it led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. But she hasn’t told us in what circumstances she would do that – and she can’t, because using our nuclear weapons would be a catastrophic disaster for this country.

Even former Tory defence secretary Michael Portillo said: “Our independent nuclear deterrent is not independent and does not constitute a deterrent against anybody that we regard as an enemy. It is a waste of money and it is a diversion of funds that might otherwise be spent on perfectly useful and useable weapons and troops. But some people have not caught up with this reality.”

If you are still a fan of Trident renewal, it is in the Labour manifesto. That could be reviewed by a future Labour government, which might take the view that it is better to spend tens of billions on something useful  – including some proper defence – than on a Cold War-era vanity project that will never be used.

And consider this: do you think the people of Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, or any of the other nearly-200 countries round the world that have NOT wasted billions on nuclear weapons lie awake at night worrying about it?

 

3. The Tories are the party of Brexit

Remember one thing: it was the Tories who called a referendum to make sure that Britain remained in the EU. The Conservative government campaigned to stay in.

Harold Wilson once said you should never call a referendum unless you can be sure of the result. It is a measure of how useless the Tories are that they called one and lost it.

Whether you were for or against Brexit, we are now all beginning to pay the price, with the end of our low-inflation economy. Inflation has risen for three months and is now at 2.7% – as a direct result of Brexit.

And if you believe that Brexit is proof of the Prime Minister’s strength, just remember that she was against it, saying that remaining in the EU was vital to British interests. Yet she is so weak that – instead of working towards what is best for Britain – she has given in to pressure from her party’s right wing and handed negotiations over to the most zealous pro-Brexit fanatics on the Tory benches.

 

4. The Tories are sound on security

Conservatives have always played on the “party of law and order” myth. But what sort of party that really believes that would cut 20,000 police officers?

That is what the Tories have done since 2010 in the name of austerity.

And that means that we are all less safe, with fewer officers on patrol and police forces unable to protect us and investigate certain crimes. Victims of violent crime face long waits for a 999 response.

Party of law and order? More like the party that lets criminals get away with it.

Labour, on the other hand, plans to recruit another 10,000 police officers.

And what about cyber-security, one of the greatest threats of the 21st century?

Well, we saw what happened in the recent computer attack. Even though the government was fully aware of the risk, it did nothing. The NHS was being run on computer software – Windows XP – that is so old that it hasn’t been supported by Microsoft for THREE YEARS.

And if you think that was bad, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon refused to deny that our nuclear submarines are running the same software.

Strong on security? Are they having a laugh?

 

5. You can trust the Tories on education

This is a simple one. Go to www.schoolcuts.org.uk and type in the name of your local school and it will tell you exactly how much funding has been cut – per pupil – in your area. For example, the secondary school attended by my neighbours’ children will be getting £497 less for every child.

We all know that the Tories don’t believe in experts (Michael Gove famously referred to anyone who actually knew anything about education as “the blob” when he was education secretary), but you don’t need to be an expert to know that less money is unlikely to equal better schooling.

Funnily enough, it seems there is still plenty of money for Tory pet project free schools – even though many have been judged to be poor value for money and some have even closed – and no doubt for new grammar schools.

It would be impossible to measure the quantity of cold water poured on the grammar school plan since May first mentioned it, but she seems determined to press ahead with it – against all the evidence.

 

6. The NHS is safe with the Tories

David Cameron kept banging on about this, cynically using his disabled son to demonstrate how much he valued the NHS. But actions are more important than words.

Tory ministers have admitted that the NHS budget per person will be cut in real terms next year.

Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt keep telling us the NHS is getting an extra £10 billion. Even Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, who is a GP and chair of the cross-party health committee, said that was “incorrect” – but that hasn’t stopped May and Hunt repeating their mantra.

They fully understand that if you repeat a lie enough times, people will come to believe it. The fact is that the NHS has been asked to find £22 billion in savings by 2020.

Ask any GP, any nurse, any hospital doctor…the answer will be the same. The system is close to breaking point.

And it is not the fault of the system. It is the fault of the funding.

Harry Leslie Smith, 94, saw his sister die of TB in a workhouse in the 1920s because ordinary people couldn’t afford doctors. He says that under the Tories we are seeing “the NHS stripped down like a derelict house is by criminals for copper wiring”.

In 2010, when Cameron’s government took power, spending on the NHS in terms of GDP share was 8.8%. After seven years of the Tories, it is now 6.6%.

EU average health spending is about 10% so we are lagging behind most other developed countries.

If we spent as much on our healthcare as they do, the NHS really would be the envy of the world.

Labour is planning to invest £37 billion in the NHS – and it is fully costed.

 

7. The Tories are the party of the centre

Tony Blair always tells us that elections can only be won from the centre, but the Conservatives have proved that is not true. Few would say Cameron and May have led anything but a government of the right.

Where IS the centre anyway? If this centre really exists, it is a shifting ground. Blair certainly moved HIS centre well to the right.

The press have brainwashed voters into thinking Corbyn is “hard left” or “far left”.

The headline in London’s Evening Standard (edited by George Osborne) said of Labour’s manifesto launch: “Comrade Corbyn flies the red flag.”

Of course, Labour members have always called each other “comrade” and The Red Flag is the anthem of the Labour Party, but those subtleties will be lost on most people, who will receive the intended message: Corbyn is a dangerous extremist. It’s “reds under the bed” all over again.

Yet when people see Labour’s actually policies, they are popular. Of course, they are – they aim to improve the lives of everyone in this country without increasing taxes for 95% of the population.

The manifesto is certainly no more leftwing than, say, the programme of Harold Wilson’s Labour governments. The proposals would raise no eyebrows in most European countries, where they would be regarded as centrist social democratic.

But they DO rip up the neoliberal consensus that has blighted this country and the lives of our people over the past nearly 40 years – and that should be a cause for celebration.

 

Of course, there are other myths. Theresa May is busy now trying to promote herself as the champion of British working people. Now that really IS a lie…but will she make it stick?

There is a lot of work to be done over the next three weeks. As Owen Jones says in The Guardian:  “Nobody can pretend Labour isn’t in a very difficult position indeed.” But putting everyone right on these seven big Tory myths would make a useful start.

Making a mockery of BBC journalism

Making a mockery of BBC journalism

The BBC used to be known as Auntie. Now you might as well call the corporation’s news output a non-stop Tory election broadcast.

Anyone who has watched the BBC News during the election campaign can see for themselves how “Auntie” now interprets her statutory requirement of impartiality.

I usually write from my perspective as a therapist, but today I am putting on my journalist’s hat.

I have worked for 40 years in the regional and national press. I have held senior positions on a Labour-supporting paper, a Tory-supporting paper and the impartial national news agency.

So I know what impartiality looks like – and it doesn’t look like BBC News.

I’m pretty sure there was a time when the BBC would turn up at an election event and simply report what happened.

Now it seems to be a requirement that political staff give their “analysis” of what they have seen (or would like to have seen). And it doesn’t help that BBC political journalists are encouraged to use Twitter to express their “personality”.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg gets the most flak for this, but she is not alone. John Humphrys, Nick Robinson, John Pienaar…they all get in on the act.

They would claim that they are even-handed, that they treat politicians of all parties to the same scrutiny. But it is simply not true.

Last night I watched the BBC’s 10pm news with mounting astonishment. I foolishly believed that Kuenssberg had improved a bit since I complained to the BBC about her in January last year.

But no. It seems any report on the activities of the Labour Party has to be treated with a specially snide and sneery incredulity.

It’s not about asking tough questions, as she does for all party leaders. It’s about conveying to viewers that she doesn’t take Jeremy Corbyn or the Labour Party seriously, and neither should they.

It’s about focussing on the trivial to take the spotlight away from the serious,

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concentrating on the personal to divert attention from what really matters. It’s a sleight of hand.

Without social media I wouldn’t have had any idea of the crowds that have been turning up to Corbyn’s speeches.

The BBC’s idea of balance is to show Theresa May’s appearance in an almost-empty room talking to glum-looking guests, then Corbyn’s speech in close-up, hiding the huge crowds that have turned out to see him.

Last night’s Kuenssberg report was followed up by a totally pointless vox pop from York, dismissing Labour’s manifesto. It started with John Pienaar (whom I always regarded as being an intelligent type) allowing a passer-by to display his ignorance on immigration, and finished with Pienaar emerging from a sweetshop with a lolly.

What is this, Newsround?

You might also have noticed one key feature of any report of Labour proposals: an obsession with how they will be paid for.

Funny how nobody seems that interested in what the Tories have done with your three-quarters of a trillion pounds.

When they came to power in 2010, the national debt was £979 billion. This has now risen to £1,731 billion.

Labour rebuilt schools and hospitals and got us out of the global banking crisis. After seven years of austerity, what is the Tories’ excuse? Yet it is Labour’s spending plans that apparently require the BBC’s forensic microscope.

You might wonder who sets this agenda – and I will tell you. Kuenssberg takes her cue from the national press. Right from the start, she adopted the line of the Murdoch and Rothermere press: that Corbyn is a joke who doesn’t need to be taken seriously.

It is not surprising – political correspondents work closely together. But the BBC should rise above that pack mentality.

Ed Miliband had a tough time with the press but I’m pretty sure he received from the BBC at least some of the respect that is due to the leader of the opposition. Kuenssberg simply picked up on the mocking approach to Corbyn of the Mail and the Sun and adopted it for the 10pm news.

Of course, you might think that is reasonable. You might think that Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere (as well as Richard Desmond and the Barclay brothers) have your best interests at heart. And if you believe that, then you might think the BBC is right to mock the leader of the opposition and his party.

Or you might think as I do: that it is very dangerous in a democratic society for our national broadcaster to slide so far in that direction.

And if you do agree with me, you know what to do. Tell the BBC what you think.