Jeremy Corbyn asks readers of the Sunday Telegraph:
What kind of country do you want to live in?
One where you don’t have to raid your savings to pay for your children’s university education? Or perhaps you’d like to live in a country where the care for your elderly parents was based on their needs.
You might even be one of the thousands of Southern Rail passengers who only wants to get on a train, find a seat and arrive on time.
If you’re one of those people, or the countless others who have been let down in the last six years by the devastation of our public services, then let me tell you why the Labour Party is the party for you.
Over the last six years you’ve been deceived on a scale not seen since Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme.
Time and again you’ve been told that to build a strong economy we had to tighten our belts and cut public funding.
Today we have the utterly self-defeating reality of rapidly declining public services while our debt is going up.
Take the NHS: irrespective of where you live, it is likely that your local hospital is in debt – 80 per cent of hospitals are.
Just a few weeks ago the Government announced that hospital debt in England was a staggering £2.45 billion.
Let’s put that into context, when the Conservatives came to power the NHS was breaking even.
Knowing the cost of the Government’s cuts is only half the equation, the price you and me are paying is far higher.
; critically cancer waiting times are up. In some parts of the country a GP appointment is as rare as hen’s teeth.
We are spending over £2 billion a year on agency and contract staff.
If you want to truly understand the almost Kafkaesque state of the NHS in Tory Britain today then look at King’s College Hospital in London.
Hugely in debt, they are paying a freelance contractor the equivalent of £715,000 per year to be their “turnaround” director.
The fact is the NHS has not been given the resources it needs.
That means you and I are getting a worse service.
That’s why a couple of days ago I promised that the next Labour government would end the pointless and expensive internal market in the NHS that, according to independent health economists, costs over £3 billion per year.
Let’s stop giving away money to £1,000 a day management consultants and put that back in to our NHS.
Some of you might not think I have much to be grateful for these days – but there’s one thing I thank my lucky stars for every morning: I don’t have to travel on Southern Rail.
If there is one example of how the intransigent ideology of this Government outweighs the public interest it’s Southern Rail.
Long before Southern Rail cut over 300 services it is legally contracted to deliver, its passengers were facing a woefully inadequate service: delays, overcrowding, cancellations, late running trains were the norm.
Yet instead of recognising the plight of millions of passengers and telling Southern Rail where to get off, the Government continues to support them with our money.
That’s why Labour’s pledge to return the railways into public ownership is the right one.
It would deliver the two crucial elements a public service needs, investment and a good deal for those using it.
And don’t doubt that Governments can run railways.
In 2009, following the collapse of the National Express rail franchise for the East Coast Mainline, the Government took over operation of the service.
In five years of “public ownership”, the publicly run East Coast Trains had one of the highest rates of punctuality, offered the best price on tickets and made £1 billion – every penny of which went back to the Government.
Under Labour, the Government would use the income from publicly-owned rail to invest, improve and expand our rail services in the UK, making your journey to work, or to visit family faster, cheaper and more reliable.
The overwhelming case for publicly run, publicly owned rail and NHS applies to so many parts of our public services.
I don’t want a social care system where the elderly and disabled are nothing more than an entry on a balance sheet – amounting to some of our most vulnerable sold off in units of time.
And it makes no sense that we saddle future generations with billions of pounds worth of debt because they chose to go to university.
These young people should be looked to as our future economic assets, not cash cows.
The fact is, the economic decisions this Government is making are out of choice not circumstances.
The choice for you and millions like you is what type of country you want.
A country investing in jobs, in services, in education – or a Government whose ideological drive is to reduce the public services millions of people use and need; a Government that knows the price of everything and the cost of nothing.
Even if you don’t think of Labour as your natural political home, if you value your NHS, care for the elderly, want an education system for all and a public transport system that works for its passengers, then it may be time to think again.