Time to decide!

I know that a lot of voters have not yet made up their minds about how to vote tomorrow. Faced with a lot of contradictory rhetoric from the various parties and candidates, it can be difficult to know what to believe.

Predictably, there has been an anti-Labour story being pushed by the opposition parties and those media organizations who think it’s time for a change.

To judge Labour on its record, we must consider that record fairly, by looking at it as a whole. The long list of achievements over the last thirteen years that Labour can proudly claim has been too often overlooked by commentators.

It takes an effort to think back to the mid-1990s, to remember the state of public services at the end of the last period of Conservative rule. To remember how the Tories’ idealogically-driven removal of investment in public services had made those least able to help themselves worse off.

But that is the yardstick that we must use to measure what has been achieved since 1997. The Prime Minister in a speech yesterday made a point of listing these (and I forgive you if you don’t read the whole list – but see how long it is!):

“You know, it’s been pretty relentless. Non-stop, on the go, never a moment’s let up, working round the clock. I don’t mean the last four weeks…. I mean the last 13 years. Because we’ve been busy.

Busy changing lives. Busy changing communities. Busy changing this country for the better and forever.

On May the 2nd 1997 we set to work – and we’ve been working ever since. And just think the battles we have fought and won.

The minimum wage first enacted in 1997. First £3.60 an hour, now £5.80 an hour and now, in Labour’s manifesto, a minimum wage set to rise in the coming parliament not to £6 an hour – but to £7 an hour.

Britain’s minimum wage is one of New Labour’s proudest achievements. But it’s not my achievement or Tony’s achievement – great as Tony was. No – it is not our achievement – it is your achievement. And it’s the achievement of the people of Britain.

And it shows what good men and women of conviction can achieve when they work together for the common good.

And I’ll tell you what else we’ve done together. On the first day of this campaign, I met a teacher. This isn’t one of those David Cameron type stories – I really did meet her, and she really was a teacher.

And do you know what she said to me about the difference we had made? That back under the Tories she used to teach with a bucket beside her desk because she never knew when the classroom would leak and the kids would have to learn in their coats.

But now – after 3,700 schools have been rebuilt or refurbished with Labour – teachers know that we not only fixed the roof when the sun was shining but built hundreds of wholly new schools – and now it’s not old buckets in the classroom but new laptops, new whiteboards and new teaching assistants.

That’s not my achievement or Tony’s achievement. That’s your achievement and the achievement of every single person who has voted Labour and joined our fight for fairness.

And do you know what else we’ve achieved by fighting?

  • the shortest NHS waiting times in history
  • three million more operations a year
  • over 44,000 more doctors
  • 90,000 more nurses
  • GPs open into the evenings and at weekends
  • free cancer prescriptions
  • a two-week maximum wait to see a cancer specialist
  • over 100 new hospitals
  • the Winter Fuel Allowance
  • free TV licences and free bus passes for pensioners
  • the Pension Credit
  • the New Deal for the Unemployed
  • full-time rights for part-time workers
  • the Social Chapter
  • record maternity pay
  • for the first time in history the right to paternity leave
  • the biggest programme of council house building for 20 years
  • the Disability Discrimination Act
  • the Racial and Religious Hatred act
  • the Equalities Act
  • the first black cabinet minister
  • the first Muslim minister
  • the first black woman minister to speak at the Commons despatch box
  • civil partnerships, gay adoption, the repeal of Section 28 and yes the right to book into a bed and breakfast
  • devolution: a Scottish Parliament, a Welsh Assembly and, yes, even a Mayor for London
  • the transformation of our great cities with bright new dawns for Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester
  • the Human Rights Act
  • crime down by a third
  • the hand gun ban
  • domestic violence cut by two thirds and rape convictions up by half
  • more police than ever on our streets
  • the world’s first ever Climate Change Act
  • beating the Kyoto emissions targets
  • the tripling of overseas aid
  • the cancelling of debt of the poorest countries
  • the ban on cluster bombs
  • peace in Northern Ireland
  • a Britain in Europe’s mainstream not in Europe’s slipstream
  • free swimming for kids
  • free museum entry
  • the right to roam
  • banning fox hunting
  • the Olympics for London
  • half a million children out of poverty
  • extended schools
  • 42,000 more teachers
  • the best ever exam results in schools
  • Education Maintenance Allowances
  • record numbers of students – and for the first time the majority of students are women
  • a doubling of apprenticeships
  • a Child Trust Fund for every newborn child
  • Sure Start children’s centres
  • free nursery places
  • and Child Tax Credits that this Labour government brought in and which a Tory government would cut because they just do not get it, never have, never will.

So when people say that politics can’t change anything – we reply it can, it has – and it will.

And let us never forget that for the advancement of so many of these great causes we had to fight not just the Tories – but the Liberal Democrats too. And let’s never forget the most important lesson of these days – a lesson that is today more relevant than ever. And what is it?

It’s simple; when we fight, when we never give up on the fight, when we fight and fight and fight – we win.

I am proud of what Labour has achieved in government; the manifesto contains an equally long list of things we want to do in the next parliament that will continue the fight against social injustice, lack of opportunity and the lack of social mobility, and keep fighting for fairness, sustainability and a more equal society for all.

So when you enter the polling station (and please, please do make time to vote, whatever your political opinions!) remember that list, and vote not just in your own interests, but in the interests of our society as a whole. Vote Labour.


One response to this post.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Learning Exchange. Learning Exchange said: It's a long, long list – and extended schools are on it! http://bit.ly/ayfpyU […]


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