Today marks a year since the 2017 General Election, in which Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority. A disastrous campaign, littered with failures and broken promises, in contrast to Labour’s hopeful campaign and inspiring manifesto, resulted in the Tories losing an astonishing 13 seats. Instead of a year to remember, this has turned out to be a year Theresa May wishes she could forget and one that’s held the country back.
Only a few weeks earlier, languishing up to 25 points behind in the polls, political pundits predicted electoral annihilation for the Labour Party and senior Tories publically toasted a master stroke by the Prime Minister. Both predictions were to be proved embarrassingly inaccurate.
Having lost their majority, the Tories were forced to abandon much of their election manifesto and to enter into a “confidence and supply” deal with the DUP, in their very own coalition of chaos. Reeling from the election the Prime Minister called on other parties to submit their policy ideas and received something still in high demand, a signed copy of Labour’s Manifesto from Jeremy Corbyn.
Perhaps having taken the opportunity to read her “limited edition”, she attempted, during her disastrous conference speech last year to ape the language of Labour’s programme. But the reality is her Government’s record has been one of abject failure for people up and down this country.
Our vital NHS has been through the worst ever winter crisis on record, Brexit continues to divide the Tories and take up valuable parliamentary time and energy, and just last week the Government’s own Brexit department revealed they are working towards a situation in which we would run out of medical supplies. On top of that, recorded crime is increasing while police officer numbers continue to fall.
In recent weeks the Transport Minister has even been forced to bring trains operating on the East Coast Main Line under state control and with lines in chaos the length and breadth of the country, he has been dubbed “failing Grayling”.
All of this while living standards fall, with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealing yesterday that a shocking 1.5million people were destitute in the UK last year, including 365,000 children. In addition, the Independent found that nearly four million adults in the UK have been forced to use food banks.
Rumours of a new election persist in Westminster. The controversial alliance with the DUP teeters on the brink with demands that Northern Ireland must be treated exactly the same as the rest of the UK on Brexit, but entirely different on women’s rights. Within their own party Brexit continues to be a vehicle for distraction and self-destruction, with colleagues fighting like rats in a sack.
Whilst the Tories tear themselves apart, resulting in a year of failure - we’re focused on our positive agenda for government. One that protects jobs, living standards and our vital public services. This year we’ve pushed the Government on vital issues like NHS pay, universal credit, energy prices, FOBT machines.
One year on and not only is the Labour Party primed and ready for an election, but the country is ready for a Labour government. Only a Labour government will protect our vital services, tackle the cost of living crisis and build a country that works for the many, not the few.
Ian Lavery is chair of the Labour Party and MP for Wansbeck