As a Labour councillor in the frontline of the battle against Brexit and Tory rightwingery, I knew when Heidi Alexander and Alison McGovern launched the Labour Campaign for the Single Market that there were few other things it could be more important to support.
This is not because there is nothing important to campaign for at the moment in the ward or borough where I am a councillor – in fact the challenges we face are immense.
But, if parliamentarians choose to harm Britain by wrecking its economy, slashing tax revenues, and weakening workers and consumers in the face of the globalised economy, then it will only be harder to turn our Labour values into concrete action on the ground.
After eight years of grinding austerity inflicted by George Osborne and Philip Hammond, councils and the communities they represent are really suffering. Changes in the way the coalition government decided how to fund local authorities mean that poorer areas borne the brunt of it. And we are really now seeing the rotten fruit of the Tories’ calculated decisions.
I recently spent some time with my council’s rough sleeping outreach team. It was clear from the people we met that they had ended up on the street because of austerity. After 1997, the safety net of health, welfare and council services would have “caught” many people. Now, there is nowhere for them to land, except in a shop doorway within reach of London’s major railway stations.
As ever, it will take a Labour government to clear up the Tories’ inexcusable mess. But this time, it could be harder than ever.
If the “Brexitories” have their way, then more people will lose their jobs, plunging families into the spiral down which too many have slid already.
If Boris Johnson and co have their way, the next Labour chancellor will open a cupboard that is barer than ever, denying the funding councils desperately need.
If Nigel Farage has his way, then workers and consumers will be left to the mercy of the powerful and our lost rights will leave us only the more impoverished.
Pro-European Tories have lost the battle in their party. So, again, the responsibility falls to us in Labour.
If you are a Labour councillor who wants to defend your community by averting the impending disaster of single market exit, please email your support to [email protected]