(NB. This piece is written from a pretty partisan perspective. Of course it is. I wrote it.
If you feel the tone is not to your taste because you identify as a Tory voter, or a potential one, I urge you to skip the introduction and go straight to the list. Therein lies more of the substance.)
So it has come to this, the 7th June, 2017.
Call it the Eve of Hope, or the Dawn of Despair. For the United Kingdom anyway, it’ll be one or the other, because tomorrow it goes to the polls. Yes indeed, the snap General Election looms. And this election, called by Unelected Theresa May when she was polling high above Labour’s Ultra-Elected Jeremy Corbyn, is proving to be one of the most interesting political events of the 21st century.
And that’s the same century in which the United States of America gave the keys to the kingdom to an orange-haired reality TV goblin.
Fun times indeed.
One of the main reasons this ordeal is so damn fascinating to watch is just how much of a perfect case study it is proving to be of the manufactured consent that takes place in modern Western democracies. I have written at interminable length about the effect of the mainstream press’ propaganda campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, so I won’t be repeating that part of the thesis here. What I will say is that that story was left with an implied ellipsis at the end of it. The bit that would come after would be any general election. Now, I wrote that piece back in September, thinking that we’d have a few years to see what would happen once Corbyn’s actual policies had a chance to osmose through the pea-soup filth-barrier of disinformation maintained by the press.
But instead, Theresa May, soaring like a valkyrie over the opposition in the polls, sought to capitalise on her lead and to consolidate her party’s position, and so here we are now, several years ahead of schedule. And the press, gripped roughly by the ear by election impartiality broadcasting rules, suddenly had to correct its usual biased nonsense reporting. And what happened once this correction took place, once people got a whiff of what Jeremy Corbyn actually represents? How did that impact the Tories’ gulf-like lead over Labour in the polls?
CON Lead Over LAB Drops 16 points In a Month: CON 42*% -2 LAB 40% +3 LD 6% -3 UKIP 3% -1 Others 9% (+2) Details: https://t.co/FU39sxUoGq— Survation. (@Survation) June 6, 2017
Granted that’s one of the more optimistic set of numbers, but you get the point.
Oh what fun it is to see the edifice crumble.
People awake. Nevertheless, lies remain. In their desperation the Tories have, with increasing intensity over the last few weeks, been slinging untruths like a baboon armed with an endless supply of its own shit. That’s actually the second thing that’s made this election cycle so fascinating! Just how much shit can a baboon fling?! Thanks to the Tories, we know: a fucktonne. So then here are some of their lies, in no particular order, and a breakdown of why they are absolute twaddle (with the occasional puppy thrown in for palate cleansing):
Lie 1: Labour’s manifesto is based on a ‘magic money tree’ or is uncosted or has a £XXX hole.
The Labout Party’s manifesto, which you can read in full here (PDF), is a set of confident, modestly social democratic proposals, long-supported by the majority of the public. Contrary to the Conservative’s rather bizarre claims, Labour is one of several parties to have released a fully costed manifesto. The Conservatives, on the other hand, are one of the few to have released a manifesto that is almost entirely un-costed.
The media plays a strange part in this, often enjoying playing a game of ‘are the sums in this manifesto accurate’. It’s strange because the sums are costed by a number of experts, all far more knowledgeable than the media.
The questions instead to ask are a) Does the manifesto include hidden costs — e.g. unmentioned taxes, or b) Does it depend on future changes to the world and national economy, and how likely are those changes (and how important are they for the manifesto promises to be deliverable)?
These questions have been absent from the media coverage but in the case of labour the manifesto’s estimates for growth are (small ‘c’) conservative. The manifesto explicitly rules out any tax rises on people in the ‘95%’, and it includes National Insurance in this—so if the economy did fail to grow the treasury would have to look towards further increases in other taxes such as corporation tax (though the Labour manifesto also puts a cap on this until at least 2020).
On the other side of that we have the Tories. It is very likely that there will be a National Insurance rise shortly after the election should they win. Their spending plans—where they have costed them—are under-estimated (including allocating 7p for a child’s breakfast). It is difficult however to do a more detailed analysis, as—again—there is minimal detail in the manifesto itself.
Lie 2: Labour is a racist/anti-Semitic party
One of the more outright weird accusations to be levelled at the Labour Party, especially one being led by Jeremy Corbyn—a lifelong campaigner for social justice and anti-racism causes. Nevertheless, there have been at least two investigations into the racism/anti-Semitic accusations into the party since Corbyn became leader. Irrespective of the motivations behind those making these charges, the investigations have all found instances of racism— including anti-Semitism—to be few and far between (something like 6 cases in a party of 600,000). The Conservatives, on the other hand, have had several counsellors suspended due to racism, including one suspended for anti-Semitism. To put it bluntly: Labour is quite explicitly an anti-racist party, while the Conservatives have—to put it generously—a rather more shaky history.
Lie 3: Small businesses can’t afford a higher minimum wage
Consider a reversal of perspective: British people on the minimum wage can’t afford to live. Quite literally, the national minimum wage is far below the living wage. The claim that businesses can’t afford to pay a minimum wage is made by business owners in every country in which it is raised, and every time that claim is proven false. If you are a business owner and you can’t afford to pay your staff £10/hour then you probably shouldn’t be a business owner. Staff costs are unlikely to be your only problem.
Increasing the pay of the lowest paid workers has the biggest positive impact on the economy as less well paid people spend a much higher proportion of their income. The evidence base suggests that increasing the minimum wage is much more likely to see your business grow than the trickle-down/austerity-based economics we have endured for the past 7 years.
Lie 4: Corbyn is a weak leader
Corbyn has won two leadership elections, with increasing mandates each time. He has moved the Labour party significantly to the left. He leads a party that is the largest of its kind in Western Europe. Theresa May was made leader almost by mistake and has called a general election to try to put off inevitable leadership challenges she knows she cannot win. She has made U-turn after U-turn, and even with the compliant British press behind her, manufacturing an image and a false reality, she cannot maintain an image of strength.
Lie 5: Labour is in thrall to the unions
Unions are complicated bodies with their own internal politics separate from the Labour party. However, one thing all unions have in common is that they exist to represent their workers—essentially the British workforce. The Conservatives are funded by large corporations and wealthy donors who exist only to make money for themselves—even at the expense of others. There are agents of influence acting on both parties. They just happen to represent quite different interests.
Lie 6: Labour is weak on Brexit
The Labour and Conservative position on Brexit is nearly identical. In terms of policy the only differences are:
1. Labour have already committed to securing the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living abroad in the EU, while the Conservatives have this as an ‘aim’.
2. The Conservatives have said ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. Labour have said that no deal is not an option.
On the last point Labour are correct. Purely by virtue of logic. The UK is leaving the EU so whatever happens there will be a ‘deal’. ‘No deal’ here can only mean no agreement on trading tariffs (and potentially intelligence sharing). This is still a deal. It just so happens to be the worst deal imaginable and would almost certainly kill the UK off as one of the world’s largest economies.
Why then do the Conservatives promote a slogan that at best is meaningless and at worse assumes they will be unable to negotiate a deal with the EU? This is likely due to Theresa May having a terrible reputation in Europe, which incidentally makes her probably the one person we don’t want representing us in negotiations. Okay, maybe apart from Boris. Labour by contrast still have allies in Europe and the Labour approach is more likely to get the UK what it needs at a reasonable market price.
Lie 7: Labour wants to put everyone on benefits
What does this mean? Why would any government want that? The current benefit system is deeply unfair, though in the opposite direction that the Tories claim—this is proven just through the proportion of successful appeals. It is right that Labour want to look into it but the manifesto is based around Labour building a national investment bank to create jobs.
Lie 8: Corbyn doesn’t support ‘shoot to kill’
In the wake of several attacks in Britain this has had some resonance among the public. Unfortunately, it was pretty much just plucked out of thin air—it was made up by the BBC. There is no evidence that Corbyn has ever not supported it and supporting it is not a conflict with other beliefs. Jeremy Corbyn has in fact explicitly said that he does support Shoot to Kill (despite never saying he didn’t). He was then criticised for not saying it earlier as if ‘I support the police right to shoot to kill when there is an imminent danger to life’ is something you say whenever someone asks if you want a coffee. The cold and simple fact is that Jeremy Corbyn does support it, and this was never a story.
Lie 9: Labour will ‘cost the taxpayer’
Labour’s manifesto includes a commitment to not raise the tax of anyone earning less than £70,000 per annum. Labour does however vow to increase the treasury receipts to pay for an increased spending programme. This will be done by increasing corporation tax, increasing income tax for earners over £70,000 and increasing the national minimum wage (see 3). In addition to this Labour have promised a review into outstanding student debts which could see a potential write-off of some debt (equal to ~6% of many students’ gross pay). Labour have also announced a cut in VAT, meaning 95% of taxpayers will see their tax share drop under Labour.
Lie 10: Labour/Corbyn are friends with state enemies
Here those words from an unfortunate source ring sadly true again. From the proceedings of Hermann Goering’s Nuremberg trials:
Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.Jeremy Corbyn has a long and well-documented record of engaging in dialogues with organisations that are officially opposed to the United Kingdom in some way (eg. the IRA and Hamas). Corbyn has always advocated and practised this approach so to reduce violence on the part of these organisations—work which was recognised with a Peace Prize from the Ghandi Association—and because he understands that, ultimately, one must be prepared to talk. Jeremy Corbyn has never promoted or endorsed any terrorist organisation or state that has engaged in violence.
When it comes to the UK’s foreign policy, Jeremy Corbyn has been a staunch opponent of its ‘adventures’ abroad. In every case that Corbyn has taken a stand either against a UK intervention or in favour of peace talks he has been proven correct by history. The blowback we are seeing now both in response to Iraq and Libya stand as just two examples. The UK would be a safer country if it had adopted the foreign policy advocated by Jeremy Corbyn.
This dubious charge often levelled against Corbyn would be better levelled at the UK Government, which has in its time included numerous dictators in its friends list, including—to name just two agents—Assad and the House of Saud. The UK remains one of the biggest providers of arms into the Middle East and Saudi Arabia, many of which are later used by terrorists. This was taken to the extreme in Libya where sectarian groups used British weapons in a civil war that has left the country an unstable breeding ground for the extremist version of Islam promoted by Saudi Arabia. The UK government used this war as marketing material.
There now. You smell that? Doesn’t the air have a more fragrant, pleasant aroma, once a breeze has run through it. It’s cleared some of that shit smell away anyway hasn’t it?
So tomorrow, you know what to do: VOTE.