Last night, we saw Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May being grilled on TV about their visions for Britain. With just over a week until election day, their different and competing plans for our country were outlined.
Corbyn was optimistic and principled. May was disingenuous and unclear – but the studio audience did not let her get away with evasion and spin.
At long last, she was held to account by the public who called her out on cuts to the NHS, schools and police forces.
The media has spent little time scrutinising the impact of Tory cuts. Yet the British people – who have felt the impact – know the truth.
That’s why, in the final days of this election, we need to talk about the issues that really matter to our country and put public services at the centre of the national debate.
We need to talk about the future of our social care system, currently facing chronic underfunding. It should be possible for one of the wealthiest countries on earth to provide dignity for our loved ones and ensure that the people who care for them earn a decent wage.
The solution is not a ‘dementia tax’, the Conservative party’s proposed lottery for anyone who’s getting older and is lucky enough to own their own home.
We need to talk about our schools facing cuts to the funding they receive per pupil thanks to the national funding formula. The Tories have now U-turned on this, promising more money for schools but funded by the axing of universal free school meals. Again, that’s the wrong solution. We should never be forced to choose between feeding our kids and providing them with the education they deserve.
We need to talk about our NHS, because this national treasure has struggled for years without the proper funding needed. Senseless cuts have weakened our health service, and staff are continually asked to do more with less. The Tories promise more money for the NHS but they have not delivered in the past ¬ so why should we trust them now? And while Theresa May goes on TV and calls NHS staff fantastic, she’s spent seven years holding down their pay.
In the weeks ahead, let us make these the issues that define the general election – because they are the issues that will define the future of our country for a generation.
Let’s put public servants and public services first. When public services win, our whole country wins.