So Labour is the talk of the town once once more, because a draft version of the party’s manifesto has leaked to the press, four days before it was due to be officially announced.
Now, let’s face it, absolutely no one has the time or the inclination to read an entire party manifesto – life’s too short for that – so what you want to know are the headlines, the overall tone, and the takeaway messages of what a Labour government would look like if they win power on 8 June. But first:
Why has the manifesto leaked?
No one seems to know. The press will no doubt say it’s a sign of the chaotic leadership of the party (conveniently forgetting the many other leaks that constantly happen), while there appear to be multiple versions floating about, suggesting it’s come from several sources. Andrew Gwynne, the party’s elections chief, said the leak was “not ideal”.
So is this the final version?
No, it’s a draft version. Gwynne said that, “there may well be changes”. However, with only four days until the official launch, and with many of Corbyn’s general positions well-established from 30 years in politics, it’s likely that this is, give or a take a few tweaks, the real deal.
So what’s in it?
Strap yourselves in: here’s the sexy stuff.
The title, and the campaign slogan is “For the many, not the few”, while there’s another mention of “re-writing the rules of a rigged system, so that the economy really works for all”. Below are the key points.
- The vote will be respected and a meaningful vote on the final deal will be given to parliament.
- The aim in talks with the EU would be to retain the benefits of the customs union and single market.
- EU citizens living in the UK would have their rights guaranteed regardless of whether there is a reciprocal arrangement.
- Recognise the benefit that immigrants have brought but introduce fair rules and reasonable management, working with employers that need to recruit from abroad but deterring exploitation.
TRANSPORT & INFRASTRUCTURE:
- Renationalise the railways.
- Complete HS2 from London to Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Scotland.
- Borrow £250bn to invest in infrastructure.
- Phase out tuition fees.
- Create a “National Education Service to move towards cradle-to-grave learning that is free at the point of use”.
- Full investment in the NHS.
- More focus on mental health – “the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age”.
- Part-nationalise the energy industry and introduce a local, socially-owned energy firm in every area.
- Introduce an “immediate emergency price cap” to ensure dual fuel bills reach a maximum of £1,000 a year.
- Retain Trident.
- A previously-seen sentence saying that a Prime Minister should be “extremely cautious” about using something that would kill “millions of innocent civilians” has been taken out.
- Commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, as required by NATO.
- Employ 1,000 more border guards.
CRIME & JUSTICE:
- 10,000 more police officers.
- Reestablish entitlements to legal aid.
- 3,000 more prison officers.
- No privately-run prisons under Labour.
- Place “peace, universal rights and international law” at the heart of foreign policy.
- Make zero-hours contracts illegal.
- A 20:1 limit on the pay between the highest and lowest earners for government contracts.
- There is a full 20-point plan for workers’ rights, to aim for ‘security and equality at work’.
- A push for “full equality for women”.
- Extend the right to abortion to Northern Ireland.
- Build 100,000 new council houses per year.
- Aim to end rough sleeping within the next parliament.
- Raise taxes for those earning above £80,000 a year.
- Reverse corporation and inheritance-tax cuts.
- Ensure that 60% of the UK’s energy comes from low-[carbon] or renewable sources by 2030.
- A new Clean Air Act.
- A ‘blue belt’ for the seas and oceans surrounding the UK.
- End the badger cull, keep the fox-hunting ban, support a ban on wild animals in circuses and protect bees by banning neonicotinoids.
- Review universal credit cuts with a view to reversing them.
-More funds available for childcare and social care.
- Oppose a second referendum on Scottish independence.
- Lower the voting age to 16.
- Implement the recommendations of part one of the Leveson Inquiry and commence part two, which will look into the “corporate governance failures that allowed the hacking scandal to occur”.
- Support the bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games
- Ensure the Premier League spends 5% of its TV money on the grassroots
-Renationalise Royal Mail.
What this means:
There’s no doubt that this is the most left-leaning manifesto for a very long time. None of this is a surprise given Corbyn’s traditional viewpoints, but what’s striking is that he appears to have reined it in on certain points where his views are not popular, for instance on Trident. The commitment to 2% spending on NATO is also undoubtedly a nod to further suggest that Corbyn would not be a peace-loving hippy; a ‘strong and stable’ leader, if you will. One senior Labour source says that the manifesto is ‘what Ed Miliband would have loved to do if he’d had the nerve’.
The sticking point is, undoubtedly going to come down to one word: immigration. There is only one way that access to the single market will be retained: by allowing the four freedoms of the European Union, which includes freedom of movement. This is going to be a tough sell to a country that seems that be riding a wave of anti-immigration feeling; indeed the manifesto says “Labour will not make false promises on immigration numbers. Our economy needs migrant workers to keep going.” It further adds: “Labour believes in fair rules and reasonable management of migration.”
Otherwise, there’s a whole host of policies that sound good – renationalising the railways is undoubtedly a popular move, and who could argue that prisons don’t need more investment, given the shocking reports from the last year.
The pledge to lower the voting age is an interesting one, although obviously one that would benefit the party long-term, seeing as young people are far more likely to vote Labour.
The Tory attack line will, without a doubt, be: ‘how do you pay for all this?’
Labour’s response? They have an early section on their ‘Fiscal Credibility Rule’ – that is, that there should be no borrowing to cover day-to-day spending, but that investing for future growth “makes good sense”. They also claim that their manifesto is fully costed, adding, not unreasonably, “As every business person knows, to succeed and grow it is necessary to invest.”
Will it be enough? Tune in on 9 June and find out.
Oh, and we were lying in that headline, we know you love reading manifestos – so the whole thing is below for you. Don’t say we never treat you.