"Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew.
Which in sleep were placed on you
Ye are many - they are few"
These are lines from Percy Bysshe Shelley's The Mask of Anarchy. They are the inspiration for Labour's campaign slogan "for the many, not the few", a rare campaign slogan that doesn't sound like empty inane rhetoric. In contrast, the Tories' "strong and stable" was ditched early in the campaign after Theresa May appeared weak and wobbly at the first sign of serious questioning.
Who are the many? Well, anyone who relies on public transport, anyone whose children go to a state school, anyone who uses the National Health Service and in fact anyone who uses public services. The many also includes nurses, teachers, policemen and the security services, in fact anyone who works in the public sector and will have seen their pay frozen for the last seven years.
The many are all the young people who can't afford to rent or buy a place to live. And those saddled with debt because they had to pay for higher education, which should be a right, not a privilege. The many are the hard-working tax-payers who have made their contributions over the years only to be told they will lose their house if they need social care in their old age.
And the few? Well they are the real scroungers, the real spongers. Exploiting people on zero hour contracts. Big corporations like Starbucks who pay nearly zero tax. Privatised rail companies who are deemed a success because they make record profits for their shareholders while their passengers endure appalling levels of service. The few are the super-rich who write cheques for the Conservative Party and are rewarded with tax breaks worth tens of billions for any money they haven't managed to squirrel away in off shore havens. Meanwhile working families are set to be on average £1.400 a year worse off.
The few are the handful of billionaires who control our print media. Viscount Rothermere, the Barclay Brothers, the Murdoch dynasty. The few who tried to crown Theresa May as Margaret Thatcher mark two. Except that hasn't really worked out has it?
The cosy cartel led by the original fake news maestro, the Daily Mail's Paul Dacre. Of course we must "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" who along with the obedient little munchkins who write for him has tried to demonise Jeremy Corbyn. This elite group of people close ranks at election time and throw everything they have got to try to protect their power. It was the same Paul Dacre by the way, who led the charge against Europe while happily accepting EU subsidies for his large rambling country estate. Those with vested interests who tried to present austerity as a necessary evil. "We are all in this together," they say.
Do you think the privileged few who write the cheques for the Conservative Party are affected by austerity measures? Cuts to school funding and the NHS don't affect these people. They have private health insurance, their children are privately educated. I can't remember the last time I saw (Sir?) Philip Green use public transport. Philip Green, an example of everything that is rank and rotten about the Conservative Party. A man who perfectly exemplifies the bloated arrogance of the privileged few.
This election was supposed to be a slam dunk for the Tories. They have the cash, the resources and the infrastructure of mass communication on their side but something extraordinary has happened. The electorate, the many, have started to question the unending guff being fed to them by Dacre and Desmond. The Tory tactic was to try to make this a choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, but this has backfired as people - and I readily admit to being one of them - have started to listen to what Jeremy Corbyn says rather than what other people have been saying about him. His easy gentle interaction with the public and interviewers contrasts sharply with Theresa May's stark, stiff and distant awkwardness. While Jeremy listens to, engages with and learns from other people, Theresa May talks about leadership, she talks only about herself.
Jeremy Corbyn has used an authenticity that we are not accustomed to seeing in successful politicians and that many people seem to find refreshing and inspiring. Theresa May talks in Crosby-crafted sound bites: "strong and stable", "I'm very clear", "coalition of chaos", "brighter future" - mixed in with lengthy empty platitudes.
From before the snap election was called, Labour had begun to set out their plans to invest in public services (the NHS, education, social care, affordable housing, affordable fuel) whilst addressing inequality and redistributing the resources that the wealthy have accumulated over the last seven years of "austerity". When their manifesto was published, it didn't just include a raft of policies that attract popular support, it provided costings and sources of funding too.
A few days later came the disaster that is the Conservative manifesto, whose highlights include taking free school lunches from primary school children, taking homes from frail and vulnerable older people, stopping winter fuel payments to an unknown number of pensioners and lifting the ban on hunting and killing foxes with packs of dogs. You can boil all this down to a simple phrase. It's called "taking the piss". Let me invert a well-known Churchillian phrase: "never have so few owed so much to so many".
Do you really want to look around in two years' time and see a country turned into a low wage tax haven for big business because of Theresa May's weak and wobbly stance in the Brexit negotiations?
Do you want the economy to be battered by a hard Brexit for years to come and to see food banks, homelessness, privatised health services and inequality increasing even more as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?
The good news is, this Thursday there's an opportunity to change things. If you are old and you want to be treated with dignity, if you are young and you want a chance to get on in life and not start off with both hands tied behind your back, then I implore you to go out and vote Labour this Thursday. Vote Labour and change your future.Suggest a correction