Editorial: What have nine years of Tory rule done to us?

The Conservatives have been in power for nine years. 

Nine years of Conservative government has seen homelessness rise by 169%

It has created a housing crisis and sharp reductions in home-ownership, supposedly a Tory ideal. 

It has seen a huge rise in the number of people using foodbanks, from 41,000 a year to 1.2 million a year. 

A poorly-executed referendum has left Britain hopelessly divided, the subject of world ridicule, with the pound slumping to its lowest levels since the 1980s

According to independent watchdogs, doctors, nurses, and patients, the NHS is facing an existential crisis due to underfunding. Hospitals have become so stretched, that patients are forced to lie on the ground or on trollies for hours. 

Our schools are embroiled in the same struggle. Spending per pupil has fallen 8% since 2010. Many schools are falling into disrepair, due to cuts in maintenance budgets.

Pollution in our cities has reached epidemic levels. New research shows that children growing up on main roads develop smaller lungs than those who don’t. It’s estimated to cause 36,000 premature deaths every year.

The climate is increasingly imperilled. Our long-standing alliances with traditional allies are under enormous pressure, both from the ascent of nationalist strongmen and from the complexities of Brexit. 

Meanwhile, tax reductions have swelled the number of billionaires to around 150, a record high. Each of these billionaires is worth at least one thousand million. Fewer than one-third of them are domiciled in the UK.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We all want a country where everyone has a fair chance of finding shelter, opportunity, and fulfilment. But as this long litany of decay and corruption shows, the Tories’ solutions are simply not working.

This election has seen a new level of deceitfulness creeping into the national conversation. In a bid to keep power at all costs, the Conservatives have pretended to be a fact-checking organisation on Twitter, fabricated an assault on Matt Hancock, and made claims about Labour’s manifesto which were proven to be false. 

According to First Draft, an independent non-profit dedicated to fighting fake news, around 88% of all the Tories’ digital advertising was found to be misleading. Labour’s number was 0%. 

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has avoided scrutiny by skipping key TV debates with Andrew Neill and Channel 4. His private life – from the unexplained violent episode with his girlfriend that prompted a police visit in June, to his refusal to confirm how many children he has – remains murky. His own brother refused to serve under him. His ex-bosses at The Times and The Spectator have spoken about the dubiousness of his character. His tenure at the Foreign Office was a series of disasters

And his simple message of ‘Get Brexit Done’ doesn’t correspond at all with the complex reality of the negotiations to come. Even after his microwaveable deal, the real work of negotiating an actual trade deal with Europe is still to come, and could take decades. The Financial Times claims that Britain will have to renegotiate 759 individual treaties.

Labour have made grave mistakes of their own. They have needlessly caused division within their own party, have alienated and frightened Britain’s Jews through their lax response to anti-Semitism, and have dithered over Brexit policymaking. Their manifesto is a mixture of brilliant, progressive ideas to reignite the economy and make it work for ordinary people, and risky gambles that could easily backfire.

But we should not reward this Conservative government with power. Their mismanagement of the economy (Britain is now in more debt than it was in 2010), the housing crisis (we are short of 4.75m homes), social housing (hundreds of buildings still have Grenfell cladding), benefits (the BMJ claims that 45,000 occurred between 2010 and 2014), the NHS, and Brexit, has widened inequality and deepened the divisions in our society. The Tories have proven that, in their current guise at least, they cannot be trusted, and must be removed from office.   

Tomorrow, people will vote Conservative, even though they feel let down by the Tories. They will vote Conservative, even after the scandals, lies, and incompetence that has characterised government after government since 2010. 

We shouldn’t ignore or explain away this chronic mismanagement of our country. Instead, we should have the courage to vote for a fresh government of hope, ideas, and compassion. We should vote Labour, and show the Tories that a decade of division and suffering does not go unpunished.

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