Vote Labour

TWO WEEKS ago Ed Miliband at the Labour Party conference made a weak presentation — promising to raise the minimum wage to £8-an-hour — by 2020, rise of just 25p every year. He forgot to mention the budget deficit in his speech because he was showing off that he did not need a written speech and the ageing John Prescott make a silly racist joke at the expense of Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna. It was not inspiring stuff that would bring Labour supporters flocking to the polls.

This week on the other hand the Tory party conference gave us many compelling reasons to come out in our millions and support Labour at the coming general election.

For a start Chancellor George Osborne declared his intention to freeze all benefits to people of working age for three years at least — that means child benefits, housing benefit, tax credits, job seekers allowance and benefits paid to the sick and disabled — while living costs continue to rise, especially housing, domestic fuel and transport. And there is no prospect of these benefits ever recovering their value of five years ago no matter how prosperous the ruling class makes itself.

Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith wants to pay benefits to “troubled families” — this usually means families dealing with long-term illness or mental health problems — through a smart plastic card that can only be used in certain big chain supermarkets and only to buy food.

This will instantly cut them off from the cheapest sources of fresh fruit and vegetables — the street markets. It will leave them with no access to new clothing, toiletries, laundry and other cleaning supplies as well as fares for public transport. Their children will have to walk to and from school however many miles away it might be. They will have no transport to get to job interviews. It is just another device to humiliate poor people and make their lives as difficult as possible. The only beneficiaries will be the big supermarket chains.

Then Home Secretary Theresa May set out her proposals to control “non-violent extremists”. People who have committed no criminal offence will be banned from using the internet to communicate or organising politically. May is hoping her Tory followers will read into this that it is mainly directed at militant Islamists. But as we know from previous Prevention of Terrorism Acts it is just as likely to be used against peace activists and left-wing political campaigners and journalists.

The dangerous part is that the victims of these gagging orders will not be convicted of a crime and imprisoned — just issued not to do a whole load of things which amount to completely taking away their freedom of speech and expression. But if they disobey these orders — as with the notorious Asbos — they can be railroaded to jail without a proper trial or any chance to defend themselves.

There are many Tory supporters who would like to see Islamists like Anjem Choudry restrained and some on the left who would like to see the EDL and BNP restrained. But there are already quite enough laws against violence to deal with their worst excesses and the best way for us to defeat them is to have enough people come out on the streets to oppose them so they get demoralised and go away.

What these Tory supporters do not understand is that May’s measures could equally easily be used to gag them when they start protesting about having fracking rigs sited at the bottom of their garden or all over their favourite beauty spots.

If May’s gagging measures were ever enacted we would have to do what communists in other places have had to do throughout the last century and learn the techniques of working underground.

In the meantime every vote not given to Labour — with all its faults the only party that is a realistic alternative to the Con-Dem Coalition parties — is effectively a vote for a new Tory government that makes no secret of its war on the working class. We must kick them out at all costs.