Theresa May and the Tories called the snap General Election just two years after the last one because they thought they could smash the Labour Party . It is no accident that she did this just as they hit a 20% lead in the polls. It was an arrogant and cynical attempt to remove any opposition to their plans for an extreme Brexit and they thought they could guarantee Tory rule for decades despite their right wing ideological plans to shrink the state further by cutting schools, privatising our NHS and forcing our elderly citizens to fund their own care in older age by making people use their their homes to pay for social care which has been state funded previously. The PM sounded an authoritarian note in Downing Street complaining that Parliament was divided over exiting the EU when the Country, she claimed, was not.
The Government and Prime Minister had been leaning towards authoritarian behaviour (e.g. Not consulting Parliament over exiting the EU, not defending judges dubbed enemies of the people for doing their jobs) and they thought they could increase their majority in Parliament and continue to drive through their plans for an extreme Brexit that would cause massive damage to the UK economy and the living standards of many, including my constituents in South Liverpool and Halewood.
It was called simply because they thought they would win with a bigger majority. But they were wrong.
The PM underestimated the desperate feeling that we need a big change in our country. After ten years of falling wages, with local services cut to the bone, people in Garston and Halewood voted with hope for something better. They rejected the miserable and grim offer they had from the Tories of austerity forever, falling living standards, worsening life chances and rising inequality.
Instead people voted for a Government that will put the interests of the many above those of the few. For a Government that will invest in our NHS instead of trying to tear it down. For a Government that will provide a quality education for all children, instead of forcing cuts on all our schools. And for a future that will ensure everyone has security, care and dignity in old age.
In Garston and Halewood, my majority increased from 27,146 to 32,149, the highest it has ever been and the turnout was above the national average for the first time I can remember. (71.13% as opposed to 68.9%)
There is no doubt about the fact that Jeremy Corbyn was able to mobilise people, young and more mature, who had never voted before or who had not voted for years with his messages of hope and possibility. There is no doubt about the fact that when we spoke to Labour voters on the doorstep who had worries about him as Prime Minister, we were able to assuage those worries. Things were most difficult for the first few weeks in this regard but what really transformed matters was the manifestos. Ours went down well as we reminded people about the possibilities of collective action and the Tory manifesto was an absolute catastrophe for them. It had complacency and hubris running through it to such an extent that they had to U-turn on a major policy proposal (the so called dementia tax) withinfour days – an unprecedented situation. It was equally stupid for the PM then to claim that it wasn’t a U-turn as we were able to ensure that older voters were fully aware that these proposals were still on the table if the Tories won.
The contrast between the accessibility and people skills of Jeremy Corbyn and the rabbit in headlights Maybot avoiding all contact with real voters could not have been more stark and it was obvious in the last week that things were moving towards us.
We worked really hard in Garston and Halewood and I know that many of our members worked hard elsewhere in defensive marginals and in seats such as Weaver Vale which we eventually won. This was a great victory for all members who went out and did their bit – and wherever you worked, you made a really important contribution.
As ever, this would not have been a victory if it weren’t for the support of all of the Labour voters, Party Membersand volunteers. So I would liketo extend my warmest thanks for all your support.