By Robin Jackson
This year’s local elections in England conclude with Polling Day on Thursday 2 May and it is important to maximise Labour’s vote.
The Labour Party offers the best hope for the majority of the population, as under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership it is putting forward the most progressive agenda Labour has ever advanced – standing up for the general interests of the population by opposing austerity, racism, war and climate change.
The Tories’ policies have allowed the already stagnant UK economy to further slow down, with growth last year (2018) only 1.4 per cent – its slowest annual rate since 2012, down from 1.8 per cent in 2017.
Living standards are being squeezed as wages and public services are cut. Real wages are currently 5.9 per cent below their level in February 2008. Plus the spending power of local authorities per household has been cut by an average of 23 per cent in 2019-20 compared with 2009-10.
To restore any funding to local services will require the election of a Corbyn-led Labour Government. In the meantime the best way to protect services, as far as that is possible in this election, and at the same time build up electoral support for such a government, is to elect Labour councillors on 2 May.
The priority of the Corbyn-led Labour Party is to make people better off, so in advance of the local elections it has announced that a Labour government would commit an extra £1.3 billion a year to reverse the Tories’ cuts to bus routes. This is to address the decline in public transport, where the numbers of passengers taking bus journeys outside of London have fallen by 10 per cent since the beginning of the decade, with cuts made to over 3,000 bus routes across England and Wales since 2010.
Corbyn is also leading a parliamentary fight to tackle climate change. This week Labour will try to force a Commons vote on declaring an environmental and climate emergency – one of the key demands of the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement, which successfully organised mass protests in London for a couple of weeks this April in which more than 1,000 people were arrested. Corbyn hopes the UK Parliament will become the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.
He is fighting for a progressive international policy, where Britain is not just a follower US dictats and has turned down the invitation to the state banquet with Donald Trump at Buckingham Palace during the US president’s official three-day visit to London.
Labour has led in most opinion polls since the end of March, when Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement was defeated by MPs in the so called third ‘Meaningful vote’. This lead has been achieved because Labour has correctly judged how to fight the Tories’ Brexit agenda and has approached the issue from the point of view of defending living standards and jobs.
However Labour’s polling lead should not result in any complacency. Activists will need to mobilise the vote for these local elections on 2 May and continue the campaign through to the Euro-elections that are due on 23 May.