Nicky Morgan is a former Education Secretary, and the Conservative candidate for Loughborough.
This has been a long election campaign. For a snap poll it has, at times, seemed interminable – but the end is suddenly very near and the prospect of a shock Jeremy Corbyn win is, according to some polls and commentators, a distinct possibility.
The thought of Corbyn in Downing Street is giving some of my electorate sleepless nights – fearful at the prospect of a man who it is doubtful would keep our country secure at any moment of maximum danger.
Security comes in many forms. It can involve our defence and intelligence capabilities. The whole point about having a nuclear deterrent is that everyone hopes it never has to be used. But if it does we need someone who is prepared to make the ultimate decision to protect this country and its citizens. Corbyn refuses to commit to doing that.
Security is also about keeping the country on an even keel, so that we can have an education system which unlocks everyone’s talents; a health system which looks after us when we are most in need, and a welfare system which gives those relying on it a hand-up, not a handout.
All these services can only be paid for through a healthy and growing economy, and a fair tax system which encourages enterprise and innovation. And yet Corbyn’s Labour manifesto proposes a tax and spend binge not advanced for decades. It outlines a desire to crash our economy headlong into a brick wall – without a care in the world for the people who will ultimately stand to lose out by such behaviour: those most reliant on our education, health and welfare services.
The two lessons I learnt about Jeremy Corbyn when I was a Minister are highly revealing about the man who already seems to be choosing the artwork to be installed in Downing Street. He once worked as a geography teacher in Jamaica when he was 18, and has been quoted as saying: “I worked out what all teachers do. If you are a chapter ahead of the class you are okay until you have a really bright kid, and then you have got a problem. You say ‘don’t be so pushy, give a chance to the others’. So I learnt tactics of crowd control during that process…”
Corbyn’s belief in setting a cap on the aspirations and talents of the many via the hard-left tactic of ‘crowd control’ – which really means controlling us, the British people – are laid bare in that anecdote.
The second fact that stays with me about Corbyn is that, at his own party conference in 2015, he had to appeal to members of his party to “cut out the personal attacks. The cyberbullying. And especially the misogynistic abuse online”. This is before we even get to the failure of Corbyn’s Labour Party to really crack down on anti-semitic sentiments expressed by leading members. No wonder it is reported that only 13 per cent of British Jews intend to vote Labour on Thursday.
A battle-hardened fellow parliamentary candidate reported to me this weekend that Momentum had been out in their constituency on Saturday. Their behaviour was described as nasty and intimidating.
I find that the trolling, and the consistently unpleasant and abusive posts on Facebook and Twitter, are not new but have grown in their nastiness in this campaign. Other candidates report deeply unpleasant and hostile behaviour at hustings meetings, where the genuine undecided voters are now few and far between. There is a pattern here, and it comes from the Far Left of the political spectrum, which has been emboldened by Corbyn’s manifesto and election campaign.
Every election is deemed to be ‘the most important for a generation’. Thursday’s vote really matters because the British public have a very real choice between a government with Theresa May as Prime Minister, ready to face the challenges ahead – Brexit, technology, economic growth, an ageing population, widening social divisions – or a Leader of the Opposition who isn’t some misguided but well-meaning old man, but a deeply committed socialist intent on crashing our economy, failing the young people in our schools, undermining our defences and holding people back to suit the aims of him and his cronies.
The fact that he is Leader of the Opposition is bad enough – but to allow him anywhere near Downing Street would be a catastrophe.