This is the fifth in a series of posts about the 2014 Labour Party Conference in Manchester.
I am writing this a week after getting home from Manchester and a few hours after watching David Cameron give his speech to the Conservative Party Conference. In Manchester last week, there was great excitement for Ed Miliband’s speech and I made new friends in the queue to get in and in the conference centre and the bars afterwards. We all could see that this was one half of showing the British people what the choice is next May. The other half was today.
I have met Ed a few times now. As a PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) I have an equal chance to speak to Ed and the Shadow Cabinet as other candidates throughout the country. My honest opinion is that Ed is a good man. He is not cynical or driven by calculations of popularity like in The Thick of It. On the contrary, my experience is that he thinks deeply about the real issues affecting people in the UK, and the world. He can see what the moral, ethical and decent solution is to these problems and he pursues it. He took on Murdoch because it was the right thing to do. No other party leader has had that moral bravery in my lifetime. He is a threat to the right-wing establishment so they smear him continuously. Is anyone surprised by that?
Cost of Living
Only Ed talked about the failure of the economy to provide for ordinary people. Cameron cannot touch this subject. This is what I hear on the doorstep and in the street when I speak to voters. 9 million people, including 2 million children, live in private rented housing. The numbers doing so in Guildford have rocketed since 2010. Only Ed is on their side.
Only Ed and Labour can intervene in the energy market to freeze utility bills. Cameron can’t touch this, his donors would blow a fuse.
Wages are stagnating and more and more people find themselves on zero-hour contracts or earning below the living wage. Only Ed Miliband and Labour will stand up for those people. Disabled people have been targeted by the cruel Tory-LibDem Bedroom Tax. Only Labour will scrap it.
A fair society is a strong society. People should be fairly rewarded for work and protected from predatory corporations. Ed can do this, Cameron cannot.
The Next Generation
In Ed’s speech there was a vision for how the country could be. If the economy worked for working people and we did more for each other, together, then the next generation need not be worse off than their parents.
Ed spoke about climate change and its threat to our world. Cameron forgot that section of his speech, if it ever existed. Rampant climate change will wreck large parts of the globe. It will bring poverty, famine and mass displacement. We have an obligation to our fellow world citizens to play our part in combatting it. Ed will, Cameron won’t.
Ed’s vision is one of hope. Hope, that our country can change to share the proceeds of globalisation with everyone, that we can keep our planet liveable for all peoples, and hope that the next generation can have the opportunities that their parents did.
Cameron’s vision is one of fear. Fear, that other countries will betray us, that entrenched privilege will be threatened, and fear that new ideas and culture will reach us and challenge us.
Does fear trump hope? If it does then the next generations will live a less fulfilled existence than their ancestors. This is The Choice.
The National Health Service typifies how British people want to care for each other. I am old enough to remember how Thatcher ran it down so that patients were waiting for hours on trolleys in corridors. Labour rescued the NHS then and will need to rescue it again. Cameron and Clegg are selling off our NHS. Everything is up for grabs.
In Ed’s speech he set out how we will combine health and social care and provide the funding required to secure the future of Britain’s most loved institution. Cameron didn’t.
I told BBC Surrey about Ed’s speech here:
Ed offered carefully costed plans to save the NHS and clear direction on the environment. He offered hope to the next generation and a way to make the country and the economy work for everyone, not just a small elite.
Cameron offered an excuse to bash the most vulnerable, austerity without end and a massive pile of cash to the richest in society.
The choice is clear. The election is on 7 May 2015. Which will you choose?