Why, at 94, I have resolved to be out on the campaign trail for Corbyn’s Labour
Saturday 22nd April 2017
Don’t let your birthright – the welfare state – be snatched from your hands by the greed and selfishness of Tory politics, writes HARRY LESLIE SMITH
IN THIS seventh year of austerity, hope is as dim as light on an arctic afternoon for those who weren’t born entitled. It’s why, at 94, I have resolved to be out on the campaign trail and the doorstep helping to elect a Labour government that can make Britain better for all.
For too long we have been made bitter by debt to keep our heads afloat in an economy that is rigged so that only the few may profit.
We have been made angry by the politics of division and hate that has infected both mainstream media as well as social media like a cancer that attacks reason and common sense.
We are exhausted from trying to protect our disability benefits that keep us alive from being disallowed by corporate entities which now work hand in glove with the Department for Work and Pensions to disassemble the welfare state rather than protect the vulnerable from the vicissitudes of life.
So we must register to vote and encourage those who haven’t to do so. Our country is bereft of hope because we are knackered from the daily grind of full employment on flat wages and zero-hours contracts. This can only change with a change in government.
We are afraid because our NHS has been vandalised by hedge fund privateers at the behest of Tory governments since 2010.
But we can put away our fright this June by participating in democracy and voting for a Labour government intent on enacting a socially progressive agenda.
Britain is at the tipping point and as I came into this world in 1923 to working-class parents, I can tell you I have seen these dark times before.
I have known the pain and devastation that austerity brings to ordinary people and their communities.
I still feel the sting and shame of poverty that compelled me 85 years ago to forage through rubbish bins for my tea like an animal.
And all the signs of the economic and social collapse I experienced in the 1930s are present in 21st-century Britain. Poverty has increased since the Tories assumed power almost a decade ago. People are going hungry in Tory Britain and children are going to school without proper nutrients.
Like in the 1930s, people can’t afford the cost of a funeral after a short and painful life. Insecure housing has increased because rents have ballooned to unaffordable levels. No-one is now safe from being out on the kerb.
The homeless line our high streets like soldiers left dead on a field of battle. I have seen these same types of hands outstretched begging for life when I was a boy growing up in Bradford’s rough doss houses.
Then, like now, well-heeled Tory politicians who know that their bread is buttered by tax-avoiding corporations ignored the cries of help from the homeless, the jobless and the destitute.
In the 1930s millions of lives were forfeited to an austerity induced by Tories driven by an ideology of greed and entitlement.
Today the grandchildren of those Tories are doing the same to our young people. My heart aches for them, knowing the suffering they will endure if this Tory government remains in power.
So much of our humanity and optimism has been stolen from us because of David Cameron‘s and now Theresa May’s mania to destroy the welfare state and replace it with the dog-eat-dog world of my boyhood.
But when my generation’s youthfulness ended at the start of the second world war, we knew we could change our destiny and the destiny of Britain if we just put our faith in the pragmatic socialism of the Labour Party.
It’s why in 1945 young men still in uniform like me and young women like my sister on the home front as well as my middle-aged mum voted for a future for the common people.
In our millions, working-class Britain marked their ballots for social justice and elected a Labour government that became a tide to raise all boats.
By electing a Labour government whose manifesto pledged an NHS, affordable housing, education and nationalisation of key industries my generation’s future was assured.
The future of this generation can also find these assurances by voting Labour in the June 8 general election.
Today with Labour under Jeremy Corbyn we can be confident that he means to effect change.
Corbyn has the same spirit, determination and ability to transform the lives and destiny of Britain like Clement Attlee did for my generation.
In this winter of perpetual Tory austerity, the Conservatives want us to be so emotionally and economically defeated that we are indifferent to the outcome of this election because we have given up on hope.
But we cannot succumb to despair, no matter how painful these last few years have been for us.
Working Britain, vulnerable Britain, ordinary Britain must join together and fight these forces of neoliberalism that aim to make my past your future.
Don’t let your birthright — the welfare state — be snatched from your hands by the greed and selfishness of Tory politics.
So I ask you to stand with me and fight to help elect a Labour government. In 1945 my generation changed history for the better. Now it’s your turn to make history and save Britain. I know you can do it because we did it once before — and it was grand to see all lives matter for something.
Harry’s Last Stand published by Icon Books is a searing modern polemic that shows, with the indisputable force of lived experience, why the past shouldn’t stay buried, and the future is ours for the taking. His new book, Don’t Let My Past be Your Future is out in September. He has a podcast available on iTunes and you can follow him on Twitter @harryslaststand.
JEREMY Corbyn speaking in Swindon yesterday confirmed that Labour will abolish zero-hours contracts: here.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon made a filthy attack on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn Thursday, accusing him of being “feeble” and “gutless” on defence and asserting that Russian President Vladimir Putin would welcome a Labour victory: here.
A significant section of the Labour Party and its media backers are working for the defeat of their own party in the snap June 8 election, sprung last week by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May. They calculate that a defeat for Labour will enable the removal of Jeremy Corbyn as leader, after their previous attempts failed: here.