This election is our final chance to end austerity | Letters

Readers urge voters to consider the impact of Conservative economic policies over the last decade, and back Labour or other progressive parties on 12 December

It was no accident that the explosion of creativity and iconoclasm in the 1960s coincided with economic expansion and the relaxation of fiscal austerity (Corbyn in last-ditch drive to focus on voters’ finances, 9 December).

By contrast, the economic austerity we have endured for the past decade has led to an austerity of thought and aspiration. Its result has been resignation in the face of growing poverty, resentment of minorities and strangers, a sullen rejection of internationalism, and an impoverished view that any attempt at radical improvement and expansive thinking is hopeless.

Labour’s distinctive fiscal promise is merely the vehicle for a more aspirant, caring and forgiving society. If we want to draw the most fundamental distinction between Conservative and Labour election promises we should look to the kind of society each imagines. Look to the (more radical) Labour manifesto of 1964, with its echo of those expansive times: “The morality of money and property is a dead and deadening morality”. That manifesto promised “humanising the whole administration of the state”. An end to the austerity of imagination.
Prof Saville Kushner

• Labour needs to convince voters in this last stretch that Jeremy Corbyn and Labour are ready to lead, and to attack this issue straight on. They have allowed the opposition narrative that they are radical dreamers with no real grip on reality, or governance experience, to be accepted by the majority of the population.

They need to emphasise that their proposals, or similar, have all been in place before in the UK or in Europe (for example, nationalisation) and that they heed the advice of scientists and experts (which often the Conservatives do not).

Also, they should remind the population that the vast majority of the work of governing the country is done by a very competent civil service, whom Labour respects and whose advice they take very seriously. As such, they are more than ready and capable to govern.
Dr Steven Richard Scott
Concordia University, Canada

• The magnitude of the choice that lies ahead this week can feel overwhelming. An election of such importance is not merely defined by the stark differences between a government undergoing an identity crisis and an official opposition promising the most radical manifesto since Clement Attlee. Unlike most other elections, this election will not be defined by a series of firsts but, rather, by lasts.

It is our last chance to save the NHS, our last chance to address the climate crisis and commit to crucial targets. It is our last chance to support our schools and provide the funding that they have been starved of for years. It is our last chance to support university lecturers, who have been forced to strike twice in less than two years over deteriorating working conditions and unnecessary pension reform (a term that the neoliberal elite love throwing around when what they actually mean is asset stripping). It is our last chance to properly fund our vital public services.

This is also our final chance to put the nail in austerity’s coffin. And, lest we forget, this is our last chance to stop a disastrous hard Brexit. This is no longer about leave or remain. We cannot allow the narrative pervading this false dilemma to cost people their jobs, to significantly reduce living standards, and to obliterate working conditions and environmental protections.

This was a Tory crisis that the architects of austerity have turned into a national catastrophe. I cannot vote this Thursday, but most of you can. Your decision will have a profound impact on my future, and on the lives of those without a voice.
Thanasi Hassoulas
Penarth, Cardiff

• I have observed the constant negative and disproportionate bombardment of Jeremy Corbyn and seen a man of amazing strength and dignity resisting overwhelming pressure to abandon his beliefs of refraining from personal abuse of his opponents and the media.

He is a great example of how to debate calmly without the need to shout and scream, as is the norm in parliament. The problem for him is the number of people believing it is necessary to shout to be seen as “strong”. You have to be far stronger to resist this temptation.

He seems to be a genuine compassionate and caring believer in what he has set out in his policy document with a strong commitment to achieving his goals to improve the lot of the people. He is very clear as to where his priorities are and appears confident he can achieve them. He and his impressive team are fully versed in the policy detail He has never needed a minder.

For anyone unsure of how to vote I would say give the Labour party a chance to prove they honestly will try their best to achieve their programme. Just consider if the Conservatives are returned to parliament there is a very high probability of the return to austerity and the continued impact it has had.

I would like to have an answer to the question of how Boris Johnson and Conservative party voters feel about their contribution to the effects of their policies on the most vulnerable people. Perhaps Corbyn could ask them.
Pam Blackshaw
Oldham, Greater Manchester

• I see myself as a Labour/Lib Dem/Green hybrid so am an embodiment of what Polly Toynbee refers to (Labour’s red wall is weak. Progressives must join forces, Journal, 3 December). However, our current voting system continues to prevent my views being accurately represented. I have voted Labour all my life and will do so again on 12 December. Once upon a time my vote represented a 100% belief in all the Labour party stood for; now it is partially a tactical vote to hopefully prevent the Tories from winning. The progressive centre and left parties must plan for cooperation and compromise right from the outset of the new parliament – and that includes a determination to radically reform the voting system. It is time for voters’ nuanced views to be recognised and for Polly’s “progressive concordance of the reasonable” to prevail.
Toby Wood
Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

• It’s odd that some voters are willing to lend their vote to a Boris Johnson administration for five years. It would be like lending your car keys to a drunk. Sure, you’ll get them back, but what state will your car be in?
David Sweet
Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire

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