Forgive me while I raise a glass of my £2.49 Tesco bottle of Lambrusco. I am toasting my last Tory Christmas and heralding in a new year of hope that we have seen the last of this vicious idealogical, power crazed right wing government, aided and abetted by the traitor that is Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems.
Things have to get better for the working class don't they? Things have to improve for us. Going into our fifth year of Tory imposed austerity has given me a real campaigning zeal to ensure we don't face five more years! I have a definite firm belief that only people like me can make change happen. I have listened to all sides of the argument. The apathy for all political parties making people think it's not worth voting, the anger directed at Labour for not appearing to understand working class lives, the lure of Ukip and it's "laddish" leader Nigel Farage, the worry about our ecological future and so a surge in Green party interest.
We are indeed going through a major change in how we do politics and it's no longer a 2 party system. For people struggling on zero hours contracts and agency employed it feels like no one is speaking on your behalf. For a generation of young people priced out of affordable homes with huge university fee debt hanging round their necks, it appears that no one is bothered from any party. But I have said previously, change has to start with us. People like you and I have to shout for change. And it's no use thinking that no one will listen! It make take a bit of persistence as change is never achieved overnight but it can be done. I've done it myself a few times during 2014. One example was the price of Labour Party conference. I felt at £63 for a pass it was pricing out working class members and carers and the unemployed. I lobbied the General Secretary Iain McNicoll, tweeted him, got other MPs on board and behind me, and received a letter eventually telling me prices for 2015 will now be lowered and budget accomodation booked for delegates. It's a start, but that start was only achieved by shouting, lobbying and asking Labour to look again. Labour listened and acted. That's the power of the people working.
There will be many previous Labour voters disillusioned by the party. I feel many policies have been clouded that do provide real hope and real change. Perhaps Labour have not been as successful in getting these real policies out there and known about: Free 25 hour a week childcare for all 3-4 year olds, a repeal of the NHS Act that will stop privatisation of our NHS, an end to routine zero hours contracts by employers, an energy price freeze, new technical apprenticeships for young people, public rail being allowed to compete with privatised rail companies for contracts, and for me and other women, women's issues - pay, caring responsibilities etc being looked at and acted upon. These are the politics of hope. A hope that a vote for Ukip or any other party cannot give.
And there are brilliant Labour candidates out there who are offering something different if elected. There are men and women from working class backgrounds who want to change the look and direction of the party so that it represents us more. From Lee Sheriff in Carlisle, Lisa Forbes in Peterborough, Lara Norris in Great Yarmouth to Chaz Singh in Plymouth there are working class candidates determined to swell the Labour MP ranks to join the other great MPs and the Trade Union Group of MPs and push for change. The more of them the better that get elected!
But if we preach the politics of apathy to each other and give up trying then we will end up with potentially a Con-Kip coalition government in May 2015. Osborne is promising a further £12billion of welfare cuts. These cuts are not the "easy cuts" done since 2010. These cuts are on working tax credits for working people.There is an idealogical war going on against the poor and the working poor. We live in a land where money is in the hands of priveleged millionaires, where the horror of hundreds of Foodbanks in every town to feed the working classes, is right here and right now. A land where paying less tax is deemed ok while disabled and vulnerable die from benefit sanctions. The late Tony Benn was probably prophetic in his thoughts when he said "There are two ways to control people. First of all frighten people and secondly demoralise them" never more true than with this ConDem government.
Tax credits prop up low paid workers both employed and self employed. From April 2015 Osborne is taking away all working tax credits for any self employed person earning less than £156 per week. This will effect people like us; Hairdressers, handymen, sales reps, Avon and Kleeneze sellers. This is the reality. And Ukip support all the policies the Tories do and more! Ukip want maternity pay taken from women in small businesses. Ukip want workplace rights slashed for employees. Ukip want to take us out of Europe. What will that mean? In my neck of the woods in NE Wales that means thousands of jobs at Airbus gone and closure of a highly skilled factory and its workforce. It's not all about "sending foreigners home" as Farage likes to spout about. Coming out of Europe means vast unemployment for British workers in our communities who rely on European orders for all kinds of equipment and produce.
Look at all the recent bigots, racists and homophobes Nigel Farage has had to remove from standing for public office. Where was Farage on Boxing Day? Down at the local fox hunt, fag in hand, Barbour jacketed and hunting boots on chatting to his own class. The upper middle classes he is at home with. For on e not pretending to be "one of us"!
Ukip is the "rice pudding" party. Take away its laddish leader and the whole party drowns in a swamp of nasty ultra right wing people who have no right in seeking positions in public office to represent us.
For those of us who are union members or even former Labour Party members, our vote in May is just too precious to use for a quick protest. Unless judged wisely we will end up with some kind of Tory coalition again. None of us surely want that? What we do need is more Labour MPs with the passion, drive and fervour to demand change within the Labour Party and seek to influence future policy.
So my New Years message to all readers of the Morning Star and my articles is -
Hang on in there. I have been disillusioned myself in the past with Labour, but after having met Ed Miliband myself, I know he listens and he does act in response to ordinary people. He does want the change we want too, but his position is a difficult one as he seeks to act as the Labour leader in a time of unprecedented austerity. If Labour win in May it will take a few years to even begin to reverse the hurt caused by the Tories in areas like our welfare state, our NHS, our education system, our work practices. You will notice I said "OUR". That's because all these things belong to us; ordinary citizens. They are not possessions of this Tory government to be sold off to the highest bidder resulting in poor services for us. We've had Thatchers and Cameron's sell offs and are our vital services - gas, electricity, rail, water any better run? Of course not! We are paying a damned fortune
for all these privately run essentials, so much so our wages can't afford our monthly bills any longer!
So use your vote in May to make it a Happy New Year. A new start. A new launch. A final wave goodbye to Tory imposed austerity for us and tax breaks for millionaires. Let's make 2015 the year the working class in Britain took charge of our futures, used our vote, had our say and placed our demands on a Labour table.