Manifesto Analysis: Labour

Labour – For the many, not the few

Back to the 80’s cried the headlines, along with references to the “longest suicide note in history”. It is fair to say that Labour’s manifesto was the most left-wing platform that the party has stood on since then but there are also some important differences. The 2017 platform, for example, states “Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent” – in keeping with the official conference policy – and a “commitment to NATO”. These are marked differences to where the party stood under Michael Foot.

Unsurprisingly, business has reacted negatively to the threats of renationalisation of a number of industries.  Carolyn Fairbairn, the Director General of the CBI said that it “prioritises state intervention over enterprise”. That said, other aspects, such as measure on immigration, skills and infrastructure investment were well-received.

Whilst business is nervous, many of the policies have wide-spread public appeal. Large-scale spending on schools and hospitals, nationalisation of energy and the Royal Mail and even some tax increases actually play well.

The most recent data shows the polls narrowing slightly and when you get into, it’s Corbyn’s own personal ratings that are likely to drag the party back rather than the content of their manifesto. But, as ever, what matters is how it goes down in the key marginal seats Labour must hold – or dream of winning. Corbyn-sceptic-in-chief, Dan Hodges has described it as a chocolate gateaux manifesto – everyone loves it but they don’t want it every meal for the next five years.

Summary of key policy announcements

Brexit

  • Negotiating priority will be “retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union”
  • Immediate guarantee of EU nationals rights with reciprocal guarantees for British citizens
  • Reject “no deal” option
  • Guarantee that no region or nation of the UK will suffer from withdrawal of European funding for remainder of the Parliament
  • Protect British farmers’ access to European markets
  • Stay in Euroatom, European Medicines Agency, Eurojust, and Europol, and keep European Arrest Warrant arrangements
  • Freedom of movement will end
  • Restore Migrant Impact Fund

Business and economy

  • Higher corporation tax to fund skills and education budgets
  • Reintroduce small profits corporation tax rate
  • Reform business rates to exempt plant and machinery from valuation, and conduct a thorough review of long-term future of tax
  • Introduce Excessive Pay Levy on companies with very highly paid staff
  • Target of eliminating current spending deficit in five years
  • No limit on borrowing to invest
  • Establish council for each strategic sector of the economy to coordinate training
  • Establish a new Ministry of Labour
  • Implement the Parker Review recommendations to increase ethnic diversity on the boards of Britain’s largest companies
  • Establish a National Investment Bank with £250 billion of lending power, with “patient, long-term finance to R&D-intensive investments”
  • Establish ring-fence between investment and retail banking
  • Renationalise Royal Mail

Infrastructure and transport

  • Nationalise rail as franchises expire
  • Nationalise water supply network of publicly-owned water companies
  • National Transformation Fund: £250 billion in borrowing over next 10 years to “upgrade the economy”
  • Complete HS2 from London through Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, and then to Scotland
  • Build CrossRail for the North, New Brighton Main Line, and Science Vale Transport Arc (Oxford to Cambridge to Milton Keynes)
  • Extend rail electrification across whole country
  • Introduce universal superfast broadband by 2022
  • Extend powers to councils to provide bus services, and support the creation of municipal bus companies that are publicly run for passengers not profit.
  • Position the UK at the forefront of the development, manufacture and use of ultra low emission vehicles, supporting the creation of clean modes of transport through investment in low emission vehicles.

Education and Skills

  • Establish a National Education Service
  • Expanded childcare through direct government subsidy
  • Establish a fairer school funding formula under which no school will lose out
  • Provide free, lifelong education at further education colleges
  • Set a target to double the number of completed apprenticeships at NVQ level 3 by 2022
  • Restore maintenance grants for higher education and abolish tuition fees

Housing

  • 100,000 council and housing association homes per year
  • Prioritise brownfield sites and protect green belt
  • Guarantee Help to Buy Funding through 2027
  • Introduce new legal minimum standards for rented housing
  • Suspend Right to Buy sales unless councils can show plans to replace homes like-for-like
  • Resource and bolster planning authorities with increased powers to put people and communities at the heart of planning.

Health

  • Work towards a new model of community care that includes primary care, social care and mental health.
  • Publish a new childhood obesity strategy that includes proposals on advertising and food labelling.
  • Scrap the NHS pay cap, and put decision into the hands of the independent pay review body.
  • Introduce a new Office for Budget Responsibility for Health.
  • Introduce a new legal duty on the Secretary of State and on NHS England to ensure that excess private profits are not made out of the NHS at the expense of patient care.
  • Increase the social care budgets by a further £8 billion.
  • Build a new National Care Service.
  • Invest in early intervention by increasing the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people.

Defence

  • Introduce a cyber-security charter for companies working with the Ministry of Defence.
  • Commitment to spending at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence.
  • Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent.
  • Publish a Defence Industrial Strategy White Paper, including a National Shipbuilding Strategy to secure a long-term future for the industry, workers and UK defence.
  • Roll out a Homes Fit for Heroes programme that will insulate the homes of disabled veterans for free

Others

  • Expand the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator.
  • Hold a national review local media and into the ownership of national media to ensure plurality.
  • Continue to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on official development assistance.