For the many, not the few

Corbyn manifesto

 Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn – thumbs up for a radical manifesto

13th May 2017

The leaking of a draft of the Labour Party manifesto has been the main focus of media interest this week. Much BBC time has inevitably been taken up by the source of the leak and the divisions within the Party that this illustrates. Fuel to the ongoing BBC narrative. The real news however is that Labour have come up with a manifesto which puts before the British people the most radical programme for change in a generation.

Whatever the source of the leak, or the BBC spin put upon it, the raft of changes proposed by Labour should be the main message which emerges from the manifesto, which was confirmed at a Labour National Executive meeting on Friday.

While the manifesto will be formally launched next Tuesday it is already clear that Labour will set out some key promises including:-

  • The abolition of university tuition fees
  • A boost to infrastructure investment
  • Renationalisation of the railways
  • Increase in the minimum wage to £10 per hour
  • The creation of local energy providers
  • New Council house building
  • Investment in the NHS
  • Investment in school budgets
  • A comprehensive defence review

The main source of funding will be from an increase in corporation tax to 26%, from its current tax haven level of 17%, way below the European average. Further tax on the top 5% of earners will also help spread the cost of funding public services more fairly and shift the burden from the poor to those most able to pay. Commenting on the manifesto after the meeting Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn said,

“Our manifesto will be an offer and we believe the policies in it are very popular – an offer that will transform the lives of many people in our society and ensure that we have a government in Britain on 8th June that will work for the many, not the few, and give everyone in our society a decent opportunity and a decent chance, so nobody’s ignored, nobody’s forgotten and nobody’s left behind.”

The Tories and the usual media outlets have wasted no time in attempting to trash the Labour programme, with a particular emphasis upon defence. In spite of Labour policy being in favour of the renewal of Trident, a significant weak spot in the programme, the media continue to press about Corbyn’s personal antipathy to the use of nuclear weapons. Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, has even gone as far as to suggest that Corbyn is a pacifist, an allegation which Corbyn refutes and one for which there is no substantive evidence.

As Corbyn himself has pointed out however, if thinking twice about the indiscriminate destruction of the lives of millions of people and the destruction of large parts of the planet because of pushing the nuclear button is an issue, then he would think twice.

The dynamism and hope of the Labour programme contrasts sharply with the colourless and anodyne approach of the Tories. Hoping that the “strong and stable” leadership of Theresa May is their best bet, the Tories are stacking all of their eggs in that particular basket, attempting to run a presidential style campaign focussing on personality rather than policy options.

May’s lack of personality and her inability to think on her feet under questioning may yet undermine the Tories approach. However, they will hope that the media focus on the character assassination of Corbyn will prove enough of a distraction to take the spotlight from the evident weaknesses of their own candidate. So far the Tory campaign has been significantly policy light, with “strong and stable” leadership being their main focus and delivering on Brexit their main objective.

Labour’s best platform in decades is not helped by anti-Corbyn elements such as Ben Bradshaw suggesting that the focus of the campaign should be to ensure as strong an opposition as possible, or Deputy Leader Tom Watson suggesting that May is heading for a Thatcher style landslide.

The official launch of the manifesto next week should be the focus for a united push to unseat the Tories and give Labour a chance to begin the process of putting the UK on a different path, one which truly will benefit the many, not the few.

 

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