Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Austerity: Is it over?

Today’s PMQs was a lesson for the Tories on what to expect from a snap election. It is clear that voters heard exactly one thing from Theresa May’s conference speech: ‘austerity is ending’.

It is the one thing Jeremy Corbyn clearly heard too, and his line of attack in the chamber today would be exactly what Labour would follow in an election next year. Is austerity over for mental health services? Is it over for education? Is it over for councils? We may find that the Conservatives have a very different idea of what austerity being over looks like to the vast majority of the country. With almost nine years of following austerity as a flagship policy, national debt is not dropping: the government cannot claim either that it is ‘mission accomplished’, nor that things will get better.

Add this to the list of reasons Tory backbenchers won’t want to risk an election next year in the eventuality of a Brexit deadlock. With the Fixed-term Parliament Act meaning that calling an election requires two-thirds of parliament, the possibility of going up against May at the ballot box next year seems to be a pipedream.

What does this mean for Labour’s Brexit policy, which prioritises pushing for a general election over a People’s Vote? It certainly does not negate the former element of it, but it does mean that preparations should be put in for what happens when – as seems likely – no election is forthcoming. The leadership still appears reticent to back a final say for the public on the Brexit deal. Members must make the most of current policy to put the pressure on.

What you can do: sign up to join the Labour bloc on the march for a People’s Vote on 20 October.

– Conor Pope, deputy editor


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Conor Pope

is deputy editor at Progress

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