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Labour to stand on most transformative manifesto in living memory

Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn revealed Labour’s manifesto for the 2017 General Election.

In an event at Bradford University, party activists and the media were treated to the unveiling of the manifesto and a Q&A session with Labour’s leader. The manifesto had been leaked ahead of last Friday’s Clause V meeting, which unanimously agreed the final draft, meaning that many of the policies were already known. Corbyn joked about this in his speech, telling the audience, “You may have seen it before.”

The programme is undoubtedly the most transformative and ambitious in living memory. Comparisons have abounded, including unfavourably with Labour’s ill-fated 1983 manifesto, dubbed by Gerald Kaufman ‘The longest suicide note in history’. Yet what we were presented with yesterday was a fairly moderate, common sense social democratic programme. As the Huffington Post‘s Paul Waugh points out, “This is a 21st century leftism, rolling back some Thatcherite policy while acting on modern problems like the ‘gig’ economy.”

It pledges to improve standards of living, strengthen rights at work and trade unions, to redress the imbalance between employer and worker. It is unashamedly positive about the role of the state in directing the economy, through nationalising key infrastructure such as utilities, railways and buses. It promises to invest in public services, leaving us with both a National Health Service and a National Education Service, in each case from ‘cradle to grave’. If you are young, you would receive enhanced opportunities through education, with more childcare too. If you are elderly, your pensions ‘triple lock’ would be protected, while the party would review the often under-reported scandal of the pension age for women born in the 50s being pushed back. On housing, the environment, digital infrastructure, and much more, Labour promises to fix Britain’s problems with smart, targeted spending.

And who will pay? As Labour has made clear throughout this election. Those earning over £80,000, in other words the top 5% of taxpayers, would be made to pay slightly more – fair, seen as they are doing so much better than the rest of us. Corporation Tax would return to 26%, still the lowest in the G7. It would also initiate a review into reforming council tax and business rates and consider new options, such as a land value tax.

You can read the manifesto in full on the Party’s website. Labour’s key pledges are:

1. Making work pay: A real living wage of £10 per hour by 2020.

2. Investment in Britain: Labour’s £500bn big deal to upgrade the economy.

3. Take back control: Rail, energy, water and Royal Mail in public ownership.

4. Jobs and economy first: A Brexit for the many not the few.

5. Extend childcare: 30 hours for all 2 to 4 year olds.

6. Our children’s futures: Increase schools funding, cut class sizes and free school meals for all primary school children.

7. Free education: Scrap tuition fees and college fees.

8. End the NHS crisis: Extra funding for our health service.

9. Dignity for all: Towards a National Care Service.

10. Your community safer: 10,000 extra police officers.

11. Decent homes for all: A million new homes to rent or buy.

12. Tax guarantee: No VAT, national insurance or income tax rise for 95%.

What has changed since the draft? The Times have a piece comparing the two, as does the New Statesman‘s Stephen Bush.

Bush notes that the most major change is the policy unveiled over the weekend – the abolition of university tuition fees, costed at £11.2bn.

Among other key changes, Labour’s line on free movement has hardened. Whereas the initial draft read, “Labour believes in fair rules and reasonable management of migration”, the final manifesto reads, “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the EU. Britain’s immigration system will change, but Labour will not scapegoat migrants.” 

On defence, a new line says “The last Labour government consistently spent above the Nato benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP.” It also includes a pledge that a Labour government would “immediately” recognise the state of Palestine. While this is not particularly new change in party stance, given Labour MPs voted in favour of recognition in a symbolic debate in the House of Commons in 2014, it would mark an immediate change in British foreign policy should Labour win the election.

Meanwhile The Times allude that Labour could back Heathrow expansion with the following new addition, “Labour recognises the need for additional airport capacity in the southeast. We will guarantee that any expansion adheres to our tests that require noise issues to be addressed, air quality to be protected, climate change obligations met and growth supported.” The suggestion of a new runway in the southeast could also mean expanding Gatwick, of course.

Labour would also now renationalise water, though John McDonnell has said the party would be flexible about how they achieved this in government, with LabourList believing it could save households up to £220 a year.

 

15 Comments

  1. C MacMackin says:

    Once again, and with feeling, Labour has not pledged to renationalise energy! It has pledged to place the grid under government control (without using the word “nationalisation”, so for all we know that could mean regulation, a majority stake, or even just a golden share). Nothing is said about the gas grid. Labour has also pledged to create regional public electrcity companies and co-ops. However, this would not involve any nationalisation at all, leaving the Big 6 in tact. It is clear that nothing will be done to abolish the horrendous market in electricity. The use of co-ops–little more than small versions of shareholder-held companies–will be encouraged. Nothing concrete has been said about ownership of generating capacity, other than that the new public suppliers will be encouraged to buy from co-ops. Taken together, this ammounts to tinkering with the market–some of which would be beneficial, some of which would not–but is a far cry from nationalisation.

    1. Danny Nicol says:

      So this “transformative” manifesto does not even get Britain back to the Wilson-Callaghan status quo ante of social democracy. Thanks, C Mac!

  2. Danny Nicol says:

    May I point of that the section of this “transformative” Manifesto on Brexit contains not only a general praise of the World Trade Organisation but a commitment to rejoin the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) on leaving the EU. Another fine example of the Labour Right entirely outmanoeuvring the Labour Left. The GPA limits state sovereignty in the field of public procurement: why the hell would we want to do that?

    By enforcing rules which prevent all governments from refraining from discrimination against companies from other WTO states, it prevents any Labour government from using public procurement to safeguard jobs, skills and fair wages here in Britain. What possible interest has Labour in crippling its own government in this regard – in the name of the global free market?

    Pierre Didier has written that the GPA “should not be considered only as a trade issue but also as a means to smoothly accompany and prepare privatisation of utilities where the latter is envisaged”. A gift, therefore, to subsequent Tory governments in the long term. And supranational agreements ARE for the long term.

    Note the pattern of ignoramus-groupthink on some on the Labour Left – “TTIP and CETA bad, WTO and EU (somehow) good”. Heaven forbid leftists should establish what these agreements actually say.

    1. James Elliott says:

      Hi Danny, thanks for this, would you be interested in writing something for the site on the WTO and GPA?

    2. C MacMackin says:

      I also noted the comments about the WTO with concern, although I didn’t know enough about the specific agreement being referenced to properly evaluate it. Similarly, I’ve been concerned about what is meant by retaining “access” to the European energy market, which might require the continuation of the current liberalised electricity and gas industries. This, of course, is just one example of the issues which will arise from membership of the common market. Most concerning of all is the requirement for free movement of capital between members, which would almost certainly make even moderate Keynesianism, of the type proposed by the manifesto, impossible.

    3. Steven Johnston says:

      Danny, there is no nice way to run capitalism!
      Under capitalism you cannot buck the market. Thatcher was correct about that. The Labour left would have to do what the market wants or else jobs and investment would leave the UK, is that what you want?

      1. David Parry says:

        Well, quite. There is no nice way to run capitalism. That’s why, ultimately, it needs to go up in flames – literally, if necessary.

    4. Laurie Rhodes says:

      For reference, the text states:

      “Labour is committed to the rules-based international trading system of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). We will rejoin the Government Procurement Agreement, whilst safeguarding the capacity for public bodies to make procurement decisions in keeping with public policy objectives.”

      The other passage so hard to swallow is:

      “The UK’s future prosperity depends on minimising tariff and non-tariff barriers that prevent us from exporting and creating the jobs and economic growth we need.”

      These passages show a complete lack of historical understanding of how many times free-market myths have been asserted to erode the principles of self determination. Suggesting the socio-economic direction of any government should be open to legal challenge from foreign institutions that do not represent the citizenry has no place in a Labour manifesto.

  3. Karl Stewart says:

    It’s a brilliant manifesto and is already proving very popular on the doorsteps of the nation – according to feedback from canvassers and campaign volunteers.

    Question: Why is the traitor Paul Mason publicly supporting the ‘Progress Alliance’ scam and still a Labour Party member?

    1. Steven Johnston says:

      Just a shame it’s not a brilliant as the conservative one, which is proving even more popular with the voters. Hence their 15 point lead.

      Questions: Why is Corbyn running with the same campaign slogan that Tony Blair had in 1997?

  4. Tony says:

    “The last Labour government consistently spent above the Nato benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP.”

    This is certainly nothing to boast about as we already have the third highest military budget in the world.

    On nuclear disarmament, the manifesto offers nothing of any substance.

    Hopefully, Labour will do well enough for Corbyn to stay on and change this nonsense.

    That would require us all to campaign to help Labour in this election.

  5. Bazza says:

    It took 20 years for Right Wing Neo-Liberal Think Tanks to capture the Tory Party (Thatcher had to be sat in a room and taught it by Keith Joseph and others) and the US ‘Reaganism’ then the bonus prize New Labour then Scottish Labour (and Fake Socialist Opportunist SNP glad of Old Labour’s clothes) and then the EC and a Neo-Liberal Full House!
    With Jeremy Labour is now shedding its Neo-Liberalism and this election is of global significance – it is a chance to break the Neo-Liberal Chain!
    Then as an example to other countries Labour with state-led public investment will grow the economy out of recession (with the private sector supply chain pouring in behind) and a £10 living wage and ending public sector pay freezes PUTS MORE POUNDS IN YOUR POCKET so people buy more commodities to stimulate the economy to create more jobs and cut the Benefits Bill and markets see more CONDFIDENCE which is what they like.
    And then other countries follow our example to return more CONFIDENCE to the global economy.
    And also address global peace by treating other countries as equal partners in an independent foreign policy unlike poorly read Donald who sees Muslims as an homogenous group (they are all the same) apparently happy to set Sunni against Shia?
    And then HOPE in the World!
    Watched Scottish Leaders debate tonight and dull but best comment all night and the real star was a young man with autism telling of his humiliation being assessed for his benefit – his analysis was brilliant – government chases those on benefits and makes them feel as though they are under surveillance every 24 hours but few resources devoted to chasing Corporate Tax dodgers, and great Labour is to stop such tests and sanctions plus to resource rich and corporate tax avoidance!
    All wealth is created by working people’s labour and the rich and powerful LEGALLY NICK OUR SURPLUS LABOUR – TIME TO TAKE BACK CONTROL FROM TORY NEO-LIBERALISM!
    Solidarity!
    P.S. I THINK JEREMY CORBYN SHOULD BE NOMINATED FOR A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE FOR HIS ROLE IN HELPING TO PLANT THE SEED OF PEACE IN NORTHERN IRELAND!

    1. John P Reid says:

      Is this a spoof, how did help peace in noerthern ireland, what John hen did by condemning the .IRA while Catholics were 2nd class citizens

      1. Steven Johnston says:

        Is this a spoof? Surely a redundant question?

  6. Bazza says:

    They talked with intermediaries to the IRA who saw war as the only solution, it’s called planting a seed for peace and trying to find an alternative solution.
    Of course Jeremy et al were vilified by the media, Tories and the Right Wing Labour leaders at the time.
    But of course years later Blair et al were to get the credit for a thankful peace.
    The Tories are whipping this up in an act of desperation because they have scored a massive own goal re their Triple Dock on pensioners – means testing winter fuel payments, the dementia tax, removing the guarantee of a 2.5% pension increase, and most socialists can see this but perhaps not all.

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