There is no such thing as perfect in politics – as Nye Bevan once said, “socialism is the language of priorities”. All of us engaged in politics at any level know you can have your ideals, but you must also live in the real world.
This applies with going to the polls in December. In a perfect world, every election would take place in the spring, when the weather is warmer and the days longer.
But the time doesn’t need to be perfect when there’s an opportunity to kick out a government that has plunged the health service into crisis and presided over privatisation, pay cuts and the cruelty of universal credit.
For public service workers like those I’m proud to represent, for people who rely on health and caring services and have seen them deteriorate over a decade of austerity and for everyone who believes there’s such a thing as society, this election will be the fight of our lives – and we’ve got to give it our all.
For Labour, that means we must put aside past disagreements, going straight into this election, united and ready to win. It’s time to put the distraction of trigger ballots and the selections behind us. The focus must be on delivering and campaigning on a radical manifesto that delivers real change for this country.
Decent wages, better childcare, building more affordable homes and restoring vital local services are what’s needed. And saving our NHS from Tory privateers who would hand it over to Donald Trump and his American multinational chums.
We have to appeal to the whole country. To reach beyond the heartlands, into communities across the UK who may not have voted Labour before but need the Labour Party now more than ever in their corner, in government.
This means expanding on the excellent 2017 manifesto – showing that Labour’s radicalism and search for new ideas hasn’t stopped in opposition, and won’t stop in government.
Of course, this election will determine our country’s future, but that can’t only be about Brexit. It has to be about the huge issues that are a matter of life and death for millions of people. As I travel around the country, I’m in no doubt about the state in which Boris Johnson and his party have left our public services.
The health service is struggling after a decade of austerity, confirming that Tory claims about loving our NHS aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
Council services have been decimated – hardest hit by a global crisis that started in Wall Street and Canary Wharf, not Wakefield or Camden. And care services, for so long stretched to crisis point, are now actually breaking down across the country with low-paid workers, working long hours to support vulnerable people. All deserve so much better.
To fix all this, there’s only one option – electing a Labour government. It’s the only hope. We cannot countenance defeat, or wallow in the comfort of internal internecine quarrels. We have to work together, and take our fight out into the country – because together, our party and our movement can win for working people.
This blog was first published by the New Statesman