Labor’s UK General Election Manifesto

Photograph Source: Jeremy Corbyn – CC BY 2.0

Those of us who attended the Labour Party annual conference in September knew from the resolutions passed there that the party’s manifesto for the next election would offer a vision of socialism not seen since the immediate postwar Labour government.

While not all conference resolutions find their way into the manifesto, there was enough at the conference to indicate that the party was going to repudiate the 40 years of neoliberalism prevailing since Thatcher took office in 1979, and continuing to the present day even though New Labour was in office from 1997 to 2010.

A politico-economic structure that has been in place for decades can’t be overturned by a party’s single term in office, so ideally Labour has embarked on a project that will require it to be in power for at least 3 full parliamentary terms, that is, 15 years. Labour’s manifesto seems to be predicated on this timeframe.

+ Labour, once in office, will discard the Tory deal and negotiate a new deal within 3 months. This deal will be put to the public in a referendum, with Remain as an option, within 6 months.

+ Labour will sponsor a “green industrial revolution”, creating a million jobs and 800,000 apprenticeships in the ecological and energy sectors. Included in this plan will be offshore wind and carbon capture schemes, and a nationwide plan to upgrade and insulate homes.

+ Labour will construct up to 100,000 new council houses and apartments every year, as well as 50,000 “genuinely affordable” new homes a year with open-ended tenancies. There will be a tax on holiday homes, a cap on rents with payments linked to inflation. New “renters’ unions” will be created so tenants can defend their rights. Rough sleeping will be ended within 5 years. The finance minister John McDonnell has earmarked £75bn/$87bn to fulfil these commitments.

+ The NHS budget will increase by 4.3% every year. Privatization will end, free annual dental care check-ups will be provided, and there will be a £1.6bn/$1.86-a-year increase in the budget for mental health services. Labour will introduce free personal care for the elderly and impose a “lifetime cap” on payments for social care.

The NHS would not be part of any trade deal negotiation with the US.

+ University tuition fees will be scrapped, maintenance grants for students will be reintroduced, and the running of schools will be returned to councils and headteachers instead of the private sector academies. There will 30 hours of free childcare for all pre-school aged children, and a Sure Start centre will be put in every community.

+ Labour will scrap the cruel Tory Universal Credit welfare system, the 2-child limit for benefits and the welfare cap, and introduce a “minimum living wage” of at least £10/$11.60 an hour, while ending zero hours contracts that are the basis of the gig economy, strengthening trade union rights, and introduce an immediate 5% increase in pay for public sector workers, followed by annual above-inflation pay increases.

Labour will also not implement the Tory-imposed sudden increase in the female pension age to 66.

+ In an ambitious renationalization programme, Labour will return rail, mail, water and energy to public ownership, and provide free full-fibre broadband via a publicly owned company.

+ 22,000 more police officers will be recruited, legal advice aid restored, and protections for victims of revenge porn will be introduced. A national refuge fund to support rape crisis centres and a commissioner for violence against women and girls will be created, and the Domestic Abuse Bill, shelved by the Tories, will be reintroduced.

Labour will finance these pledges with additional income tax paid by those earning more than £80,000/$93,000 and a surcharge on those classified as “super-rich”, that is, those more than £125,000/$145,000, which will bring in £5.4bn/$6.3bn, and corporation tax, upped from 19% to 26%, will raise approximately £24bn/$30bn.

Other measures, including as reversing Tory tax cuts, curbing tax evasion, and ending the absurd “charitable” status granted to private schools, would bring the revenue chest up to the required £83bn/$97bn.

Labour is also proposing an £11bn/$13bn windfall tax on oil companies.

Ukanian mainstream media got into a froth over how these ambitious plans were going to be financed, and the rightwing-trash-tabloids predictably yelped “Cuba”, “Venezuela”, at these pledges, with BoJo Johnson joining in the chorus, as was to be expected.

Better informed and less biased commentators noted that Labour’s plans have more in common with Scandinavian socialism than anything approximating to Bolivarism (not that the latter resembles in any respect its massively distorted depiction in the Ukanian tabloids).

Labour has been behind in the opinion polls since BoJo called the general election, and this brave attempt at overturning decades of neoliberalism could be what brings True Labour (as against Blair’s ersatz New Labour) into office.

After a first week of repeated gaffes, BoJo’s handlers are now shielding him from the public. He’s pulled out of a second TV debate with Corbyn.

Corbyn comes across on TV as a gentlemanly uncle, so it may be beyond him to ask the one question so far posed by an interviewer to BoJo that left him gulping and twitching like a fish out of water gasping in its death throes for a smidgen of oxygen.

The dastardly question: how many children do you have?

BoJo has had children with a string of mistresses, and his inability to count them does not bode well for his stewardship of an economy that will be hugely impacted in complicated ways by Brexit.

Not that BoJo cares– Brexit was his ticket to power, and he doesn’t give a shit about how he got there or what he will do now that he has got there.

He measures his survival one lie or deception at a time.

Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.