Few things in recent months have made me more infuriated than seeing the terms ‘Tory lite’ and ‘austerity lite’ being used to denounce Labour people, and the 2015 Labour Manifesto.
I wrote about how the debate among Labour members was dominated by middle class voices. And none more so is that evident than the people that use ‘lite’ as a suffix. I’ve pointed out, as many others have, that the difference between the two major parties in May was staggering. The IFS projected that there was, at the very least, £30bn cuts that seperated the two parties in May. The biggest difference in spending plans since 1983.
100 days of a Tory government has shown what choices have been made that wouldn’t have been by Ed Miliband’s admininstration. £12bn of welfare cuts; including vast tax credit cuts that -make no doubt about it- is absolutely catastrophic, an inheritance tax cut for the top 5%, the Right to Buy extension, trade union resitrictions, an attack on workers’ rights, the unbearable sound of dog whistles aimed at vulnerable people in Calais.
As I write this, I’m reminded of this most striking Guardian article about the boom in the luxury housing market a day after the Conservatives won a majority, having seen that the mansion tax had been overcome and non dom loophole preserved. It’s caption summerises it perfectly:
The day after the election, the capital’s luxury flat market soared, as the global elite rushed to buy a piece of ‘real’ London life.
The ‘real’ London life, by the way, is poverty. If you see the word ‘trendy’ being used to describe the town you’ve grown up in, you know you’ve lost the battle. You know by the time it comes to move, you will have quite literally been socially cleansed out of your place of origin. My home town, Walthamstow, is an incredibly wonderful place to me. It’s also incredibly deprived in places. The ex-council housing I live in was built for the poor. This is a very traditional working class area, but it won’t be for long. My parents bought this house on a low income for about a tenth what it’s worth now. I won’t be able to live here when or if I ever get to live independently. This is a crisis of epic proportions. And every time a Tory government is elected, it gets worse. And worse. And worse. The luxury market boom just hours after the election is a terrible reminder of this reality.
Meanwhile Ed Miliband would have gifted me rent controls, council homes, a resitriction on property developers hoarding land for luxury apartments, a mansion tax, and banning non doms buying up ‘trendy’ property as the lives below them are swept aside. This was all swept aside in those early hours of May 8th. Now the crisis will get worse as luxury estate agents gain.
This is real, these are real lives, this is the real consequence of a Tory government. There is no ‘lite’.
This consequence is just one (albeit massive) example of what it means to grow up poor in Tory Britain. Millions of lives would have been spectacularly different had a Labour government been elected in May. I don’t say that as a tribalist. A Labour government was absolutely necessary.
A Labour government in May was a practical necessity, not a theoretical one.
There is nothing ‘lite’ about how different our fates would have been had May’s election had a different outcome.