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When You Enter the Polling Booth Today, Remember That the Labour Party Are the Optimists

07/05/2015 07:37 BST | Updated 06/05/2016 10:59 BST

Forty million voters go to the polls today in what promises to be the closest election in a lifetime. And the ballot paper presents voters with a clear choice.

The choice is between a failing Conservative plan and a better plan for working families with Ed Miliband's Labour.

Over the last five years, David Cameron's Government has taken Britain backwards. The recovery hasn't reached the kitchen tables of working families and working people are £1600 worse off under the Tories. This is the first Parliament since the 1920s where living standards have got worse, which isn't a badge of honour.

At the same time, David Cameron and George Osborne have cut tax for people on over £150,00 a year and hedge funds while raising it for everyone else. In addition, they've refused to outlaw the outdated non-dom tax status that favours rich overseas residents.

It's a scandal that life for the next generation is getting harder, with tuition fees trebling and apprenticeships falling.

The Tories did not inherit an NHS in crisis but they risk leaving it in crisis. Over a million people waited over four hours in A&E last year, waiting lists are at their highest level for years and many people are waiting more than a week to see a GP.

That's why Labour is fighting this election with a plan that offers a better future. Our plan is for a better future for living standards, for the next generation, and for the NHS.

Too many hard working people feel the economy is no longer working for them. Labour will stand up for working families by providing a strong economic foundation, underpinned by us balancing the books.

Our manifesto commitments won't require any additional borrowing, something no other party has pledged. We will cut the deficit every year but without resorting to the extreme cuts planned by the Tories - cuts which would put out NHS at risk and see the Tories cut child benefit and tax credits.

We will cut the deficit every year but without resorting to the extreme cuts planned by the Tories - cuts which would put out NHS at risk.

Another five years of Tory Government would destroy our NHS. We have a better plan - investing in and improving our NHS, with 8000 more doctors and 20,000 more nurses. These plans would give the NHS more time to care for you and your family. And we'd go further - guaranteeing GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within a week.

Our better plan includes the next generation too. Britain should be a country where the next generation can do better than the last, and Labour will do what it can to ensure this is the case. That's why we'll offer an apprenticeship to every school leaver who gets the basic grades and we will cap class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds.

And to make higher education more affordable we'll also cut tuition fees from £9,000 a year to £6,000 a year, funded by restricting Pension Tax Relief for those on the highest incomes. For students from lower and middle-income families we'll increase student grants by £400, so that the full grant goes up from around £3,400 to around £3,800.

We are determined to get younger people more involved in the way the country is run. Labour will lower the voting age to 16 in time for the May 2016 elections, improve citizenship education in schools and launch a drive to get young people registered to vote. We know just how important it is to get young people hooked on voting at an early age and keep them hooked for the rest of their adult lives.

Our better plan for living standards will freeze energy bills until 2017 and give the energy regulator the power to cut bills this winter. Labour will also ban exploitative zero hours contracts, raise the minimum wage to £8 and we'll provide 25 hour free childcare a week.

Labour will stand up to discrimination and root out injustice. We've always been the party that has represented Britain's diverse communities. We'll continue the fight against racial discrimination and inequality with a powerful race equality strategy, managed from the very heart of Government. We will increase the diversity of our police, judiciary and civil service. We will end the discriminating use of stop and search powers. And we will smash the glass ceiling to get more ethnic minority people into the boardroom of Britain's top companies.

We won't let our precious freedoms be put at risk by the Tory threats to human rights legislation. Labour will defend the Human Rights Act and won't turn our backs on the European Convention on human rights. We know how important both have been in improving the lives of the elderly, the sick, the disabled and victims of crime. We'll defend access to justice and restore the key constitutional check and balance of judicial review to its rightful place.

Labour knows Britain can do better than it is doing under the Tories.

When you enter the polling booth today, remember that the Labour Party are the optimists. We are offering a choice between a Tory vision that says Britain succeeds when only a few at the top do well, with more tax breaks for the very wealthiest while everyone else pays more, and an extreme plan for cuts which threaten the NHS as we know it. Or Labour's vision based on the idea that Britain only succeeds when working people succeed.

Sadiq Khan is the shadow Lord Chancellor, shadow justice secretary, and Labour candidate for Tooting