I’ve finally managed to finish reading the Labour party manifesto.
The two things that I’m impressed with are:
- Every commitment is fully costed without any need for additional borrowing
- The deficit will be reduced for each year of office
Economic success should be experienced by ordinary working families and not just the richest in society. This message runs throughout the manifesto and for me highlights the biggest failure of the Conservative government.
The recruitment of additional nurses, GPs and midwives will be paid for by a combination of the mansion tax on properties worth more than £2 million, a levy on tobacco companies and clamping down on tax avoidance. The amount of revenue generated from clamping down on tax avoidance is difficult to estimate. If this tax avoidance component forms a significant proportion of the costs then this policy will be difficult to implement. Its certainly a worthwhile objective to have in the manifesto and one few can argue against.
Recruiting extra NHS staff will help but won’t solve all of the problems regarding poor quality of care. Too many nurses and GPs are failing to provide an acceptable standard of service and lack of resources isn’t always the reason. We need to raise the quality of care and that will require cultural changes and not just more money.
The cap on fare rises will be a huge help as the cost of rail commuting is extortionate and the services being provided by private companies is simply not working. We transport livestock in better conditions than what some passengers have to endure on their torturous journeys into work. We need a complete overhaul of the transport infrastructure.
The levy on pay-day lenders doesn’t go far enough in tackling this reprehensible trade. I’d like to see severe restrictions imposed on advertising and caps on the amount of interest they can charge.
The reduction in tuition fees won’t bring any immediate benefits to students or have much of an impact given that approx. 70% of students never pay off their loans anyway. This is being paid for by restricting the tax relief on pension contributions which appears to be replacing one injustice with another. We should do all we can to help people save for their retirement.
I didn’t like the decision to go ahead with the HS2 rail project. I’m not convinced that the returns make this a worthwhile investment.
Not sure how introducing a Director of school standards at the local level is going to raise standards in underperforming schools. There is a risk that a lot of public money will be wasted with the bureaucracy added by this new role.
Full exit checks are unworkable as they cause unacceptably long delays.
I’ve mixed feelings about giving football supporter clubs the power to appoint two Directors. If the objective is to stop football clubs from putting the profit of their shareholders before the club this measure won’t go far enough. It might make it a little harder for greedy owners to suck money out of a club so I see this as a step in the right direction.
I’ve summarised the key vision statements, issues and policies mentioned in the manifesto below.
Key vision statements
Britain succeeds when working people succeed and not when only the privileged few at the top do well.
Look after the most vulnerable in our communities
Build a high wage and high skill economy which will raise living standards and deliver better tax revenues.
Create a long-term investment culture rather than the current short-term share price focused one.
Key issues we face today
Too many are not earning enough to make ends meet
We have moved to an economy with precarious badly paged jobs
Young people with degrees have a mountain of debt with no jobs available that can utilise their high skills
There is no vocational education path for young people who cannot follow an academic path
There are not enough homes for people
Too much power is concentrated in the hands of multinational corporate businesses
More than 5 million people are surviving on less than the minimum wage. There are over 1.8 million on zero hours contracts. Over 1.3 million are working part-time and many of them doing so because they can’t find full-time employment. Food banks are used regularly by over 900,000 people. A lot of them are working but not getting paid enough to feed themselves properly.
Every listed policy is paid for without recourse to any borrowing
The budget deficit will be cut each year with independent auditing from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR).
Protect the areas of health, education and international development from budget cuts.
Tax increase for those earning more than £150k
Raise the minimum wage to £8 per hour by 2019
Ban zero hours contracts
Guarantee apprenticeships for school leavers
Abolish the bedroom tax
Freeze energy prices until 2017
Build 200k new homes a year by 2020
Recruit 20k nurses, 8k GPs, 5k home care-workers and 3k midwives
Immigrants can only claim benefits once they’ve lived here for two years. Public sector workers must be able to speak English and recruitment firms will not be allowed to fill posts bxxx
Stop the winter fuel payments for the richest 5% of pensioners.
Cap Child benefit rises for 2 years.
Commit to not raising or extending the scope of VAT.
Commit to not raising the basic and higher rate of income tax.
Introduce tougher penalties on tax evasion, remove tax breaks exploited by hedge funds and abolish the non-dom tax status.
Continue with the HS2 rail link project.
Set a legal target to eliminate carbon from our electricity supplies by 2030.
Cut and freeze business rates for smaller businesses.
Introduce a levy on pay-day lenders and use the income to create alternative credit unions.
Abolish employment tribunal fees.
Reduce tuition fees from £9,000 down to £6,000.
Apprenticeships lasting 2 years which provide a path to a technical degree.
Cap transport fare rises and make it a legal requirement for passengers to be able to access the cheapest option for their journey.
GP appointment within 24hrs and cancer tests within a week.
Cap the level of profit that private companies can make on NHS contracts.
End the Free schools programme.
Higher council tax on empty properties. Three year tenancies and a cap on rent rises. Ban letting agencies from charging fees to tenants. Create a national register of landlords.
Employ an extra 1,000 border staff. Carry out full exit checks. Tackle short term visa abuse. Retain cap on workers from outside the EU. Ban agencies from only recruiting overseas and stop child benefit being sent to families abroad.
Legislate to give accredited supporters organisations the power to appoint and remove two directors of a football club.
End badger culling.
Introduce voting from the age of 16.
Give local councils the power to restrict certain types of shops from the high street such as pay-day lenders and betting shops.