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Celebrate: we have waited so long for this. An unbearably rare moment of pure political joy | Polly Toynbee

Out with the scoundrels. There will be time to think about the massive tasks ahead for Labour, but – for now – marvel at what they have done

Hallelujah and hosanna! (If not now, when?) At the stroke of 10, the country knew it had liberated itself from the most contemptible government in living memory. The wreckers, destroyers, bullies, incompetents, cronies and crass self-servers are gone. The Tory reign of error is over; they have no God-given right to rule after all. Torn down by the people’s revenge, they were felled by their own hubris. Since the days of tumbrils and defenestrations are over, the loss of seats and ministerial car are small punishment for the suffering they deliberately inflicted on millions. The rise in infant mortality is only the most measurable indicator of the large numbers who have died needlessly during their great austerity.

They will skip away to City and company boardrooms unpunished; some prime architects of the worst cruelties had already escaped today’s final humiliation. George Osborne, chief villain, lives high on investment banking and podcasting – the axeman of the arts is now chair of trustees at the British Museum. Before the 2010 election he called accusations that he would cut public spending “a pack of lies”, then made an abattoir of health and education, bankrupted cities, denuded councils, stripped the courts, skinned defence and ripped benefits until food banks became the nation’s social security safety net. For the next 14 years the only growth was in public service decrepitude. That can be repaired in time, but Brexit caused irreparable harm, David Cameron putting the country at risk with a referendum to appease his party’s Europhobes.

Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

The Only Way is Up, by Polly Toynbee and David Walker audits Labour’s inheritance and the benchmarks for building a fairer, greener, healthier, more productive and contented Britain. Published this week, order from Guardian bookshop

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