General Election 2019 UK Politics

General Election 2019: Labour’s Manifesto

Written by Callum Williams

Note: Due to devolution, some policies only apply to certain regions of the UK, footnotes in each section indicate the geographical scope of each policy.

Climate Change

The Labour Party want a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ which includes, £250bn for a green transformational fund as part of a £400bn transformation fund. It will be used to restore the environment and invest in renewable energy and transport. They have pledged to build a total of 9,000 wind turbines and ‘22,000 football pitches’ worth of solar panels.

Legislation would be introduced by a Labour government mandating ‘robust’ and ‘binding’ standards for the environment, decarbonisation and air quality. A new tribunal would be established to ensure administrative compliance with environmental standards.

To help combat climate change, Labour plans to invest in public transport by reinstating 3,000 previously abandoned bus routes and introducing free bus travel for under-25s.

Labour have pledged greater investment in rail by bringing the railways back into public ownership once the current franchises have expired. As part of their plan, they will expand HS2 into Scotland, create Crossrail for the North and work to electrify and expand the entire rail network.

Note: Except for free bus travel for under-25s, this policy would applies to the whole UK.

Health and Social Care

Labour have pledged a 4.3% per year increase in funding for the NHS and have promised to reverse privatisation by repealing the Health and Social Care Act 2012, an act which made provision for private companies to run NHS services.

Their plan also includes provision for free yearly dental check-ups and the abolition of prescription charges in England. Labour also plans to tackle mental health by investing £1.6bn in ensuring parity of physical and mental health and £2bn in modernising psychiatric hospitals.

In response to ‘extortionate prices’ for some drugs, Labour would form a generic drug company and if fair prices aren’t agreed Labour on, would use compulsory licenses and research exemptions to enable the production of generic drugs for the NHS.

A Labour Government would establish a National Care Service for England. The new service would work with the NHS and deliver free personal care to those over 65, similar to the existing system in Scotland.

Note: Healthcare is a devolved matter, so these policies would only apply to England, although the funding increases would benefit the devolved regions.

Education

Labour have proposed extensive investment for education. They would give 2-4 year-olds 30 hours of free preschool education per week, ‘extend’ childcare provisions for 1-year-olds and increase paid maternity leave to one year.

For primary education, Labour would mandate a maximum class size of 30 children and abolish free schools and academies, bringing them back under public control.

A Labour government would remove the charitable status of private schools, scrap university tuition fees and reintroduce maintenance grants.

Note: Education is a devolved matter, so these policies would only apply to England.

Housing

Following the Grenfell tragedy, Labour would introduce a £1bn fund for fire safety which, would install sprinklers and other safety measures in council and housing association tower blocks.

Labour plans to build at least 150,000 social houses every year and claim they will end rough sleeping within 5 years.

Note: Housing is devolved, this policy would only apply to England.

Justice

Labour would recruit 22,000 more police officers and focus on a public health approach to drug use as opposed to criminalisation. Legal aid would be restored for all early legal advice under a Labour government, and greater protections for victims of domestic violence would be introduced.

Their manifesto states they want to ensure powers used by the security services are ‘proportionate’ and are exercised in ‘accordance’ with human rights which, includes an examination of circumstances surrounding the use of ‘judicial warrants’. Although, it is unclear exactly what this means in practice for human rights.

Note: Justice is partly devolved. The policies on police and legal aid would only affect England and Wales. However human rights policies apply to the whole UK.

Social Security

Universal Credit, the Conservative’s flagship welfare policy, would be scrapped under Labour. Labour haven’t released details of their new system, saying it would be inappropriate to create major policy ‘overnight’. Labour would also increase disability benefits by £30 by week.

For the elderly Labour have said the pension triple lock, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences and free bus passes would be maintained.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Economy and Tax

Labour’s manifesto proposes radical economic reform with increased taxation, spending and the renationalisation of water, energy, the railways, the Royal Mail and broadband.

Under a Labour government, a living wage of £10 an hour would be introduced for everyone over 16 years old. Large businesses would be required to have ‘Inclusive Ownership Funds’ which means 10% of that business must be owned by employees with the dividends being distributed equally amongst the employees, this would be capped at £500 a year.

Labour would massively expand workers rights, introducing a Minster for Employment Rights. The new rights would include: Stronger whistleblower protections, banning zero-hour contracts, doubling paternity pay to 4 weeks, increasing union protection and giving all employees the right to flexible working hours.

Their manifesto proposes increases in income tax for the top 5% of earners, the additional rate (45%) threshold would be decreased from £150,000 to £80,000 and a new rate of 50% would be introduced from £125,000.

Businesses will also face tax increases, corporation tax would incrementally increase to 26% by April 2022 and a small profits rate (for businesses with turnover under £300,000) would rise to 21% by April 2021.

Note: Income tax plans wouldn’t apply to Scotland but other tax policies would apply to the whole of the UK.

Broadband

Labour have launched an ambitious policy to give everyone free full-fibre broadband by 2030. They would establish a publicly-owned entity called British Broadband which, would have two roles: the rollout of full-fibre and the co-ordination of free-broadband.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Immigration

The Labour Party have pledged to protect EU citizens rights. They say they ‘recognise’ the benefits free movement brings but haven’t given details of a new immigration system. Furthermore, Labour have promised to end the practice of indefinite detention for those facing deportation.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Democracy

Labour would abolish hereditary peers in the House of Lords and ‘work to abolish’ the House of Lords and replace it with a senate elected by the nations and regions. However, the House of Lords abolition policy is vague and non-committal stating that ‘the people must be central to historic political changes’, suggesting a referendum on the future of the Lords.

They would abandon voter ID plans, enfranchise 16-17 year-olds and create an automatic voter registration system. Labour would tackle money within politics, overhauling the regulation of lobbyists and preventing MPs from taking almost all second jobs. Furthermore, Labour would expand the Freedom of the Information Act to private contractors who provide public services.

Regarding a second independence referendum, they have promised to refuse a request from the Scottish Government during the ‘early years’ of their government.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Brexit

A new Brexit deal would be negotiated under Labour focussing on a close relationship with the single market, continued participation in scientific research, environmental protection and security arrangement such as the European arrest warrant.

Once negotiated, the deal would be put back to the public against remain in a legally binding referendum which would take place within the first six months of the new government.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

International Relations

Labour would introduce a War Powers Act, which would require the government to seek parliamentary approval for military action. They would establish an inquiry regarding the UK’s alleged complicity in torture and secret courts.

They would immediately suspend arms sale to Saudi Arabia, maintain trident and commit to spending 2% of GDP on defence in line with NATO targets.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Analysis:

Corbyn promised ‘radical’ and that is what he delivered. His manifesto sets out an ambitious plan of increased taxation, renationalisation and expenditure. But, do the numbers add up?

While Labour claims their manifesto is fully costed saying they could raise the £83bn they plan to spend through tax increases, the think-tank The Institute for Fiscal Studies have said the plans are “not credible”.

Although, the manifesto is strong on areas such as the NHS and education, in other areas it is vague, non-committal and a continuation of the status quo. For example, the manifesto includes little constitutional reform with a vague sentiment about House of Lords abolition and the continuation of First Past the Post. This will be a disappointing omission from the manifesto for many due to the current discontent with the broken political system and the radical electoral reform proposed by the Brexit Party, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats. This represents a missed opportunity by Labour to revitalise politics and will be seen as political opportunism as Labour undoubtedly benefit under the current electoral system.

The manifesto represents a significant ideological swing towards universalist policies. Corbyn’s Labour believes in higher taxation with everyone gaining benefit from government policies. This represents a departure from the new Labour position of targeting policies to the most disadvantaged through means-testing. Policies of universal coverage cost the taxpayer more and can act as a stealth tax on the poor, putting a lower burden on those who can afford to pay for policies themselves such as broadband or dental checkups.

In this Brexit Election, Brexit was barely a footnote to their manifesto. Their Brexit policy was found on page 89 of 107 and was simple, a new deal and a final say on Brexit. The second referendum was included to induce remain voters to back Labour over the Liberal democrats whilst still trying to appease Labour leave voters, whether this strategy works won’t be known until election night.

This manifesto represents a revitalised party with an ambition to transform Britain, it is a manifesto that both Corbyn and his activists truly believe in, whether that message cuts through to voters is yet to be seen.

You can read the full manifesto here.

About the author

Callum Williams

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