Time to Choose

In My View… by Lesley Carty, of South-East Cornwall Labour Party

It’s time to choose.

Now that the Conservative leadership have pledged their allegiance to a no-deal Brexit (even to the point of suspending the normal democratic process) it is bringing a welcome return to unity. The huge majority of us oppose this devastating threat to slash all our ties with our European neighbours, rip up the rules that protect workers and the environment, and risk Northern Ireland’s fragile peace, just in order to hand over what remains of our NHS to exploitative multinational companies in so-called ‘trade deals’. It’s bringing unity, and it’s also shining a light on where the real divisions in our society lie.

It’s time to choose what kind of world we want our children and grandchildren to live in. At last, we have the chance to choose a world of decent work at living wages, of universal public services where basics like food, homes and transport are affordable to all… a world where we appreciate the huge contribution of our elderly citizens and ensure they have a secure and dignified retirement, even when frailty strikes; where the many and varied talents of those living with disabilities are recognised and used… a world where a house is a home to live in, not an asset to be speculated on.

Does this sound idealistic? It’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s the kind of world envisaged by the 2017 Labour manifesto, and all the policies that have been developed since. The immensely popular policies in the manifesto include scrapping tuition fees, building council housing, and bringing water, energy, mail, and rail back into public ownership. I’ve been closely following the process of policy development ever since – the Green Transformation, Housing for the Many, a National Care Service, better bus services, new models of ownership to give power back to ordinary people, and more… There is a vision of a new kind of society developing; and no-one can claim any longer that all the parties are the same.

And so it’s time to choose. We have the choice to continue down the path we are on, worshipping youth, strength and material wealth, discarding as worthless all those who don’t match up to the glossy images we surround ourselves with, extracting every last ounce of resources from our groaning planet until we have laid waste to all around us.

For decades we have been told that personal responsibility is the only thing that matters, that we should embrace competition and choice – individualism and materialism – rewarding those who succeed with tax breaks and public subsidies. That philosophy has brought us widening inequality, economic crisis, growing violence and climate breakdown. Yes, personal responsibility is important; but we are social beings, and each of us has a responsibility to look out for the interests of others as well as ourselves.

Our country is at a crossroads. Either we turn towards the politics of compassion and hope that Labour now offers under Jeremy Corbyn; or we will be driven down the road of greed, fear, hatred and despair.

If you’ve never voted before – get yourself on the electoral register now. It’s time to choose which side you are on.

First published in The Cornish Times, 06/09/19

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