This election is about Vision & Values. It is not just the Brexit Election. It is the Climate Emergency Election. The Social Justice Election. The What Kind of World Do We Want for our children election.
We stand at a “1945 Moment”. Despite fears about the costs, the impossibility, the radicalism of Labour’s vision, the nation voted for real change. They voted for a National Health Service. A Welfare State. A completely new way of doing things. Building a society that worked for the many not the few.
That’s worked OK for 70 years. For many people here tonight, university was free. You’ve progressed further than your parents. Own your own home. And are provided for in your older years.
Now, compare that to our children’s lives. Burdened with student debt. Work, often on minimum wage, zero hour contracts. Can’t afford their own home. No provision for their old age. On most health, life expectancy and social criteria, they will be worse off than their parents. And that assumes there’ll still be a planet to live on.
Tackling the climate emergency and building a sustainable society requires us to change our behaviours, and how we do things. Quickly. Like 1945, it requires a re-imagining of how we organise our society. This is what Labour is fighting for in this election.
It’s been so long since Buckingham had a contested election, that about a quarter of voters have never had a proper electoral choice. A generation of silenced young adults who know their futures depend on fundamental change. To save the planet they live on. And to make a society that works for them. Now they have a choice, they’re voting for change.
Women born in the 1950s are voting for a restoration of their pension rights.
Out in our pretty villages. Hard-working families, squeezed by austerity, rising bills and stagnant incomes. They always wanted to vote Labour, but never bothered because it was a safe Tory seat. Not any more. Now they have confidence to vote for who they’ve always wanted to vote for.
Many Green Party supporters are annoyed they have been denied their choice. Like George Monbiot, many recognise that if you want to save the planet, Labour is the only alternative. They will be voting with their conscience, for a step in the right direction.
These groups and others in our community are going to vote Labour. It doesn’t matter what pacts party elites have concocted for them. They will be voting for the change they know we need. To tackle the climate emergency in time, and to create a just, sustainable society.
They don’t want the Tories. They want to Remain in Europe. But they choose to vote for something not against something. for a new world that’s fit to face the challenges of tomorrow.
Like our climate, voting patterns and habits are breaking down. We made outdated assumptions about how people would vote in 2016 – and look at the mess that’s got us into!
People can no longer be defined by outdated notions of tribal party politics. We are a collection of communities of differing priorities, but united in voting for change we know is needed.
The climate emergency does not give us the time to indulgently vote against something. Restoring social justice motivates us to vote for something. The polls show a tightening of the race between the two main parties, and the Lib Dems slipping back. Another hung parliament is on the cards. It is not just a case of stopping the Tories in Buckingham. It is a case of stopping the Tories in Parliament. Of keeping the option of a Peoples Vote alive.
Tactical voting is always a risk. Regardless of what Stephen believes or says, the Lib Dem Leadership have made clear they would support a minority Tory Government – should Boris back a referendum on his withdrawal agreement.
“Vote for a Lib Dem still get the Tories” is the huge risk you will take if you simply vote against the Tories rather than for the change you would prefer.
There is far less risk in voting for a party that can deliver on its promises. That won’t support a Tory government. The only party that can give you a Peoples Vote.
Whichever way you vote this election, be reassured, Stephen and I will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder campaigning to remain in any People’s Vote. Brexit would be an unmitigated disaster for our country. But we also need to heal our nation’s divisions. We do that by focusing on the urgent action we need, to tackle the climate emergency, and to fix our broken society.
This is our generation’s “1945 Moment”. More of the same will not tackle the urgent climate and social challenges we face.
We all want an end to the Tories, to Brexit. But it’s not enough to just vote against them. We will beat the Tories when different groups within our communities unite to vote for Progressive change. Be a part of that.
Vote FOR action, not reaction. Vote FOR our future, not our past. Vote FOR Hope, and a kinder, better world.