Party offers hope after the despair

Ronnie Campbell, Blyth Valley MP.
Ronnie Campbell, Blyth Valley MP.

Above all else, last week’s Labour party conference, which I was proud to attend, offered one thing after more than seven years of Tory despair – hope.

Hope for our NHS with our plans to take one million people off waiting lists, cut A&E waiting times to four hours maximum, stop hospital closures and train more nurses.

Hope for young people with free school meals for all primary pupils, the abolition of university tuition fees and the reintroduction of maintenance allowances and grants for poorer students.

Hope for working people with a real living wage of £10 an hour by 2020, the banning of zero hours contracts and the introduction of free childcare.

Hope for pensioners with no rise in the state pension age beyond 66, continuing winter fuel payments, free bus passes and proper investment in social care to provide dignity in old age.

Jeremy Corbyn, in a magnificent and inspiring speech, was dead right when he said such policies are “what most people in our country actually want”.

Add to all that his promised rent controls, extra money for police and security and the clear fact that, given the Tories’ chaotic performance in the EU negotiations and their splits, only Labour could unite the UK after Brexit.

No wonder that even the media now accept that Labour is a government-in-waiting.

There is still a lot of work to do and we can’t be complacent – never forget the Tory capacity to do anything to keep hold of power.

It is going to be a long, hard road, and we must now prove that we are truly united behind Jeremy and not fall into the trap of toxic division.

But people are heartily sick of the Tory record of austerity and cuts in services and benefits for the most vulnerable, while handing out tax breaks to the super-rich and the bankers.

Compared to that dismal record, Labour now offers real hope for our country. For the many, not the few.