Divide and rule: are the Conservatives trying to distract you?

By Luke Cornforth 

With the election campaign getting into the swing of things over the past few weeks, one thing has become abundantly clear. The Tories will take a backseat during campaigning, hoping Corbyn and Labour do their job for them by turning voters away from Labour. Diane Abbott did an excellent job of this in a recent radio interview. While this may end up being a successful election strategy, I feel the need to call the Conservatives out on their negative and frankly hypocritical tactics.

During the EU referendum, the leave campaign – backed by many Tories – relentlessly attacked Remainers for their cautious outlook. Every single day Boris Johnson or Michael Gove would rattle off the party line, labelling the Remain campaign ‘project fear.’ As an alternative, they proposed ‘hope.’ An option of leaving the EU with no clear plans or ideas about how a post-Brexit Britain would function. The message resonated with voters and the leave campaign prevailed in the referendum, setting the wheels in motion for our break from the European Union. This is democracy and we should all accept the result. However we should not accept the rhetoric coming from the Conservative party during this campaign. 

The Prime Minister’s announcement to call the election was followed by her claim that only her strong and stable government could negotiate Brexit. We constantly hear that the imaginary ‘coalition of chaos’ would leave the country in ruins and see Brexit reversed. This is simply not true. This is campaign fear. Negative propaganda coming from the Conservatives, supported by the right leaning press such as the Daily Mail, who labelled Remainers ‘Saboteurs’, seeks to divide the nation. This tactic is intended to distract from all other important domestic issues. It is designed to whip up nationalistic emotions and an ‘us versus them’ mentality. This is not what the country needs.

There are more pressing issues than Brexit. Recent Governments have taken a lot away from young people. Tuition fees tripled under the Conservatives and according to the Daily Mirror, are expected to rise to £11,697 by 2025. Furthermore, Education Maintenance allowance for Sixth Form pupils from low income backgrounds was cut and the student maintenance grant changed to a loan, saddling students with more debt. The NHS is at breaking point, waiting times are extortionate, and excessive privatisation could result in an end to the ‘free at the point of use’ nature of the NHS. An end to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds ensures that young people fresh out of college, struggling to find a job, cannot receive help to get a house of their own. Politicians in the Conservative party are taking an affordable higher education away from us, as well as a free and high quality NHS and free travel and trade with 500m Europeans. All of the things those same politicians enjoyed and benefitted from in their youth.

These are important issues for everyone. If you voted leave but normally vote Labour, Green or Lib Dems, do not let campaign fear force you to vote for the Conservatives. Brexit is happening, it is safe. You can use your vote to improve things, a better NHS, fairer wages, better schools, cheaper higher education, a guaranteed annual increase in pensions and even a more beneficial and successful Brexit deal with the European Union.

Photograph: Nic Gould via Flickr

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