Opinion: ‘The past is gloomy, but the future doesn’t have to be’

In the PM’s own words, we can now decide between ‘the past and the future’

Christina McAnea, arms folded, in front of conference stage - 'Fighting for our future'

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

It’s hard to believe that, less than a week ago, a rain-soaked prime minister rolled the dice in front of the nation. It’s been a hapless campaign start for Rishi Sunak, but at least he put us out of our misery and called the general election. In his own words, we can now decide between “the future and the past”.

Calling the election is just about all we can thank him for. He may try to distance himself from his party’s record over the past 14 years. He may try to convince us that our crumbling public services and the cost-of-living crisis are all because of COVID and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But we know it’s those 14 long years of Tory political choices, chaos and cuts, that have broken our country.

A revolving door of prime ministers and ministers, scandal and sleaze. No plan to rebuild everything they broke, and no vision for the future, is the record the prime minister now stands to defend. To top it off, the Tories have degraded standards in public life.

Remember how this government treated NHS workers during our dispute two winters ago. Remember how they partied in Downing Street while most of our members risked their lives to protect and look after others.

The Tories can’t even unite their own party, let alone be trusted on security, the economy or our public services. Our NHS is in a dire state, our social care and childcare systems are broken beyond belief and there’s a pipeline of local authorities about to go under.

On 4 July, we have a chance to put that all in the past.

The future that public service workers need can only be led by a government that can respect their work, the services they provide and the communities that rely on them.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve waited a long time to get to this point. A tipping point where change really is possible. A chance to give working people a better deal and a chance to create a national care service that will benefit care users, social care staff and allow family members to stay in work.

Labour is offering a plan to grow the economy by making work pay, ending austerity and treating public services as a driver of economic growth, not a drain. Labour’s plan is about building a better future for everyone, not just allowing a few elites to pile up all the wealth everyone else helped to create.

The choice at the ballot box on 4 July is between the past and the future. The past is gloomy, but the future doesn’t have to be.

I will be voting Labour. I hope you will join me.