Time to rise together
I’ve been a bad comrade, pals. I’m so sorry to say that whilst you’ve been writing thoughtful blogs about the future of our party, and fighting folk on Twitter, I’ve been watching YouTube videos called “Classic Pop Idol Auditions” and “Amy Poehler/Tina Fey Best Bits”.
You see, I’ve been distracting myself from politics since the general election. Our internal politics and most of what’s happening outside. Trust me; it’s easier to watch Rylan be adorable on Masterchef than recognise quite where we are, as a party, as a country.
We’ve all got to wake up sometime though. We had our first Tory budget since 1996, and it was straight out of 1986.
Young people aged 18-21 will now have no guaranteed access to housing benefit. 18 year-olds, of course, shouldn’t need housing benefit. They should be at home with their mam and dad, stumbling home from a night out at 3.30am, waking everyone up with a half eaten kebab.
Some 18 years-olds can’t do that though. Some grew up in care, left with no loving relationships, qualifications or confidence and were “encouraged” into their own flat at the age of 16.
On the other side of the city, people will be inheriting houses worth up to £1,000,000 from their family without paying a penny of inheritance tax
As they were in Scotland, grants for the poorest students in England have been cut and replaced with loans. The debt that a home student in England, claiming full maintenance loan, will graduate with in 2019 will be around £51,000.
That’s just what you do to get on though, right? Take on loads of personal debt? Well it’s not what they did. 48% of new Tory MPs were privately educated.
The poorest in our communities will struggle to get on and the richest won’t even notice that they are there. We’ll continue to see injustice every time we go to the supermarket, passing the food bank donation trolley on the way out. It’ll be another five years of seeing people we love labelled scroungers and spongers.
Which leads me to our party. And the question of what we’re going to do about all this.
First, we’re going to elect a new leadership in Scotland. I’d really like us to elect Kezia Dugdale and stick with her through the 2016 election and beyond. There’s lots of reasons for that: Kez is smart, has proven herself in Parliament, and has excited party members that I haven’t heard from in a while. And she really, really cares about young people being brought up in care and changing the terrible outcomes they face.
Second, we’re going to elect a new leadership for the UK party.
Then we’re going to wonder why it doesn’t feel different immediately.
It’s not going to feel excellent right away. The Tories will be buoyant and vicious. We won’t know what the SNP 56 are for, beyond the general hijinks we have seen, but they’ll still be there. We’ll be a bit unsure of what folk tell us on the doorstep, and we’ll be sore from what happened last time.
But this is so much bigger than us, and we can’t be sad for too long. The budget made it clear to me that the time for mourning is done. The poorest families are having their incomes slashed, the most vulnerable in our society are being made even more vulnerable, and young people are being treated with contempt for daring to exist.
There is going to be a wee minute here where it feels like all we have is each other. It’s okay though. That’s how everything great that Labour has achieved started.