In May we have the chance to change the leadership of this country. For many of us this will be our first time voting in a General Election, which is why it is all the more important to make sure it is a choice we do not regret. That is why I will be voting Labour.
It would be an exercise in futility to try and convince ardent conservatives to throw away their blue ribbons and declare undying love for Ed Miliband, but it is possible to persuade disillusioned lefties to come back to the Labour Party. I am a socialist, yet am voting for a party that binned their socialist credentials when Blair came on the scene. Why? Because it is entirely impractical to think that socialism can come back as a major political force through outsider groups. Whether it reveals wider issues about a democratic deficit in this country or not, it is indisputable that the general election will be, as it has been for years, a two-party race. When people vote for the Green Party – or even take Russell Brand’s advice and don’t vote at all – they are only weakening the left’s cause. This leaves the Conservatives with more votes and means the only people voting for the Labour party are the New Labour Blairites of today. And if this remains the case then the party carries on this trajectory, of being a pale imitation of the Tories, aping them like a well-meaning, friendlier younger sibling. But voting for Labour allows change to happen within it – and is the only plausible position for those who genuinely want an alternative to the Tories.
But not everyone flirting with the idea of putting their X in the Labour box will be disillusioned lefties like myself. Don’t worry: you should also vote Labour. The current Labour Party, despite being a centrist party, still offers good policies.
Frustratingly, the popular myth that the Labour Party cannot be trusted with the economy prevails. The Labour party did not cause the economic crisis of 2008; it was an international crisis caused by toxic loans. The Labour party did not overspend, and, in fact, managed to improve the economic situation until 2010 when the coalition proceeded to undo its good work. We should not forget it was under George Osborne, not Labour, that the country lost its AAA credit rating in April 2013. The Tories are lying to us about a thorough economic recovery. Unemployment is going down, but how many of those now employed are stuck in zero contract hour jobs, or underemployed, or have been discounted from misleading statistics that hide the true number of people out of work? Inflation is stabilising, but the cost of living is still sky high, there is a chance of another housing bubble predicated on the Help to Buy Scheme and growth is uneven across economic sectors.
Thinking about the economy and number crunching isn’t everyone’s scene, but there are other important policy areas that we have a stake in. Allowing the coalition to implement its education policy has been like giving a bull the key to every china shop in Britain. Removing AS levels and coursework will put undue pressure on sixth formers to perform well on one day – a Russian roulette approach to exams that does not prove someone’s intelligence but seems more a test of endurance.
Moving now to the area of education that affects us the most- university. The coalition’s inaugural slap in the face to students was raising fees to £9,000. But here is one easily digestible figure- the Labour party would reduce this to £6,000- not ideal, but a notable step in the right direction. Where, then is the impetus for students like us to vote for a party so against our interests, like the Conservatives?
So, whether you are an idealistic socialist, an economist with a careful eye on the GDP, or an average student, it is clear that red is the new black this May.