LABOUR’S 20-point programme provides the basis for party activists and supporters to take the electoral battle to the Tories.

It encapsulates issues that exercise working people most and argues for policies to benefit the majority rather than the wealthy minority championed by Theresa May.

May would prefer not to get embroiled in debates about economic policy, which is why she fights shy of televised debates with Corbyn and other party leaders.

She wants the electorate to believe that this election is essential to provide her with an enhanced mandate to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union.

This is nonsense. The electorate provided a mandate last June. That vote is over.

The EU is unconcerned how many votes or MPs a British prime minister has.

Alexis Tsipras’s government in Greece had huge voter approval for its approach to the private banking crisis and was told bluntly by the EU that national democracy doesn’t trump EU rules.

Tory attempts to make June 8 the “Brexit election” are mimicked by Ukip and the Liberal Democrats, each laying claim to millions of votes cast for and against as the self-designated champions of the Leave and Remain camps.

The decision to leave the European Union has been made and must be honoured.

What is at stake on election day is what political direction Britain will take from that day on.

May was up to her neck in the capitalist austerity agenda imposed by David Cameron and George Osborne.

She supported their Remain position in the referendum and her years as home secretary were most notable for her anti-immigrant rhetoric, threatening to lock up visa overstayers who didn’t leave the country.

Her decision to hold a general election owes more to a desire to win a personal mandate and, at the same time, not to be bound by the Cameron-Osborne leadership’s election pledges on the state pension and taxation.

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s humiliation at having to make a Budget U-turn after his plan to raise national insurance rates for the self-employed was exposed as a breach of the Tory manifesto exemplifies his determination to have a free hand in future.

May’s devious replies to direct questions leave no doubt that she and Hammond plan to hit anyone classified — often dubiously — as self-employed, reduce the value of the state pension, press ahead with welfare cuts, persevere with the public-sector pay freeze and intensify real-terms cuts in investment in education and health in England.

No wonder she would prefer that media and voters divert their gaze from her vicious austerity agenda towards a virtual reality rerun of last June’s referendum that will change nothing.

Low living standards, especially in-work poverty, can be tackled by Labour’s plan to boost the minimum wage to living wage level, expand sectoral collective bargaining and end the public-sector pay cap.

Widespread insecurity in working-class communities can be eradicated by giving all workers full workplace rights from day one, strengthening maternity protection, banning employers from recruiting staff from overseas to undercut the existing workforce and using public contract compliance clauses.

Trade unionists will readily understand the significance of these measures to help redress the balance currently rigged against them.

John Prescott’s weekend dressing-down to former boss Tony Blair over disloyalty should be an example to all Labour grandees, donors and image-obsessives who look for reasons why Jeremy Corbyn can’t be the next prime minister rather than working to make it happen.

 

This article appeared in the Morning Star May 1st 2017