LETTER: The country cannot afford any party but Labour

I WRITE in response to John Rookes (November 29) who wrote about Labour's manifesto in less than complimentary terms describing it, amongst other things, as ‘scary’. The essence of the letter was that the country cannot afford Labour's proposals. I see it differently; the country cannot afford not to adopt Labour's transformational manifesto.

We live in austerity Britain where councils and the services they provide are at breaking point. This is not propaganda but a warning from the National Audit Office. Local authorities have seen their central government funding halved since the Tory/LibDem coalition took office in 2010 whilst simultaneously demand for services like adult social care have continued to rise putting them under extreme pressure. The NAO estimates that if local authorities keep draining their reserves at the current rate one in ten will have exhausted them in just three years time. The word scary would be better employed to describe this scenario.

The pamphlet otherwise known as the Conservative Party Manifesto contains no solutions to Britain’s problems just more of the same and a disingenuous promise to ‘Get Brexit done’ when the reality is any kind of Brexit will take years to complete.

In contrast, Labour’s plans to borrow to invest and grow the economy have won the approval of the former bank of England policy maker Danny Blanchflower and more than 160 other economists and academics who recognise that they are the best way to help the UK economy.

In a letter to the Financial Times they rightly asserted that productivity growth has all but stagnated over the past decade and more public investment is needed particularly into green technology aimed at energy, transport, housing, industry and farming. Low interest rates mean it is basic economic sense for the government to borrow to enable this to happen spreading the cost over the generations who will benefit from the assets. In their own words: “It seems clear to us that the Labour Party has not only understood the deep problems we face, but has devised serious proposals for dealing with them.” The central argument correctly made by Labour is that increasing spending and investment has a multiplier effect that will boost economic growth.

Labour’s manifesto has arrived just in time and is common sense economics. There is nothing wrong with the government making up part of the economy. When they invest it generates tax revenues enabling them to repay the investment. A good example is Labour’s plans to take the railways back into public ownership. This means that taxpayers gain a new asset currently owned by small minority.

It is worth remembering that after the Second World War the national debt was double what it is today but the Labour government founded arguably the greatest thing any British government has done for its people — a health service free at the point of entry. Doubters at the time said the country couldn’t afford it but it went ahead because the political will existed to make it happen. There was a determination to create a better world out of the ashes of war.

More recently, austerity has been the result of political choice not economic necessity. We need to turn our back on it and invest in our future instead by electing a Labour government with a vision of a fairer society on December 12.

Wendy Cooksey, Manor House Road, Rotherham