By Robin Jackson
The Labour Party launched its manifesto on 21 November, setting out a comprehensive series of policy commitments that would improve the majority of people’s lives. This is in stark contrast to real alternatives that voters face from the other political parties standing in this UK general election.
Most fundamentally, only a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government can raise living standards as it will end austerity and the government’s role in attacking people’s living standards. Only Labour will fight the climate catastrophe, by taking real radical measures to slash carbon emissions. Plus it is only Labour that can stop a no deal Brexit and will give people a referendum with Remain as an option.
In addition Corbyn’s Labour will stand up against the racism promoted to divert attention from the policies that are making people worse off and play a progressive international role.
The commitments set out in Labour’s 2019 manifesto include the following.
On the climate catastrophe:
The first section of the manifesto is on Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution, making clear the priority that Labour is placing on tackling the climate catastrophe.
- acting now and acting decisively, a full mobilisation of national resources, both public and private to tackle this catastrophe;
- launch a National Transformation Fund of £400 billion and rewrite the Treasury’s rules to guarantee investment is compatible with climate targets;
- build 7,000 new offshore wind turbines, 2,000 new onshore wind turbines and enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches;
- trial and expand tidal energy;
- upgrade almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes to the highest energy-efficiency standards, reducing the average household energy bill by £417 per household per year by 2030 and eliminating fuel poverty;
- put the UK on track for a net-zero-carbon energy system within the 2030s – and go faster if credible pathways can be found;
- deliver nearly 90% of electricity and 50% of heat from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030;
On living standards and the economy:
- a record public ‘investment blitz’ as Corbyn has called it, to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure;
- to address the housing shortage build at least 150,000 new council and social homes a year within five years – the biggest social housing building programme since the 1960s;
- deliver free full-fibre broadband across the entire country;
- immediately introduce a Real Living Wage at £10-an-hour for all workers over 16, giving approximately 7.5 million people a pay rise;
- introduce tough measures to close the gender pay gap;
- bring rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership
- provide 30 hours free pre-school education for all 2 to 4 year olds;
- increase funding of the health sector by an average 4.3% a year;
- establish a generic drug company;
- abolish prescription charges in England;
- build a comprehensive National Care Service for England;
- provide free personal care for those who need it;
- bring back maintenance grants for students and scrap university tuition fees;
- scrap universal credit;
- scrap the 2014 Immigration Act introduced by the Tories and Lib Dems and end the ‘hostile environment’ that caused the Windrush scandal;
- rule out a no-deal Brexit;
- rip up the Trump endorsed deal negotiated by Boris Johnson and ensure that Britain’s health service is not handed over to US corporations;
- negotiate a deal with the EU that protects jobs, rights and the environment, avoids a hard border in Northern Ireland and protects the Good Friday Agreement;
- a negotiated deal that would include a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union, close alignment with the Single Market, dynamic alignment on workers’ rights, consumer rights and environmental protections and continued participation in EU agencies and funding programmes;
- give people a final say on Brexit in a referendum, with a choice between a Labour negotiated deal and Remain. A Labour government will then implement whatever the people decide;
Labour has no plans to increase income tax, VAT or national insurance on 95% of the population. It will increase government revenue by reversing some of the Tories’ cuts to corporation tax and raising incomen tax on those who earn more than £80,000 a year.
The full manifesto should be read and can be found here.
Labour support is rising
Since the announcement of the general election at the end of October support for the Labour Party has been rising in the polls. According to Financial Times UK Poll Tracker, which calculates rolling averages for each party from recent polls, Labour’s support has risen by four per cent since the election was called. According to the FT’s poll tracker Lib Dem support has fallen by four per cent over the same period. Labour is now wining back support that shifted away from it to the Lib Dems earlier in the year.
Viewers of the ITV debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson on 19 November were also impressed by Corbyn. A survey conducted by YouGov, which tends to understate Labour support, immediately after the debate, reported 67% of viewers saying Corbyn overall performed well compared to 59% saying that about Johnson.
Labour is gaining support despite a fierce propaganda offensive from all the mainstream media. Standards of ‘broadcasting impartially’ in an election are not being applied to same degree as in past elections. Capital has clearly concluded that its campaign against Corbyn in the 2017 general election was insufficient. In this election all the alternative parties to Labour are being heavily promoted: the Tories to assist them gain votes and win seats; and the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru to take votes off Labour, which in most constituencies benefits a Tory candidate.
The Lib Dems are the Tories’ key weapon
According to opinion polls, the Tories have now managed to recoup the bulk of the support that they lost to the Brexit Party earlier this year. It is vital to the Tories that Labour’s current advance in the polls is held back. In this the Tories are relying on the Lib Dems, who have made stopping Corbyn their number one priority. Instead of fighting against Boris Johnson’s Trump backed Brexit deal, the Lib Dem campaign is focussing its attacks on the Labour Party, despite Labour’s clear support for a People’s Vote and maintaining strong economic links with the EU.
The fundamental choice on Brexit in this election is between a Corbyn led Labour government that will prevent a Trump backed Brexit and a Johnson government that will subordinate policy to Trump and the agenda of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. The Lib Dems’ claim that their priority is to remain in the EU is simply empty propaganda given the electoral support they are providing to the Tories in this campaign. By allying with the Tories the Lib Dems are aiding Johnson’s agenda which is to deliver Brexit, worsen the climate catastrophe and intensify austerity. The so called ‘Unite to Remain’ pact, between the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru, is primarily serving to bolster the Lib Dems and add other parties into the anti-Corbyn alliance of the Lib Dems and Tories.
The first postal ballots are due to arrive in people’s homes over the coming week. From now until 12 December everything possible should be done to further build up Labour’s support and get out its vote.