Election 2017 Manifestos: Labour

 

Next in my summarising of the party manifestos is Labour.

 

I was going to give Labour a bit of a shoeing over the distinction they’re attempting to make between Welsh Labour and UK Labour, but after the death of Rhodri Morgan I’ll cut them some slack.

What I will say is there’s no such thing as “Welsh Labour” when it comes to UK general elections and the only manifesto that counts is the one produced in London.

For the Many, Not the Few (pdf)

Brexit

 

  • Scrap the Conservative’s Brexit White Paper and work on a new strategy that retains the benefits of single market and customs union.
  • Immediately guarantee existing rights to EU citizens living and working in the UK and secure a similar arrangement for UK citizens living in the EU.
  • Remain a part of the Horizon 2020 science and research programme.
  • Continue to set high standards for food and animal welfare.
  • Drop the Great Repeal Bill and replace it with an EU Rights and Protections Bill to ensure there are no changes to workers rights, consumer protections, equalities or environmental regulations.
  • Will have a “presumption of devolution”, where EU powers in certain areas will be automatically devolved to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Opposes a “hard border”between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; supports British sovereignty over Gibraltar.


Economy & Tax

 

  • No rise in income tax for anyone earning up to £80,000 a year; only the top 5% of earners will be asked to contribute more; no rises in national insurance or VAT.
  • Larger companies will pay more corporation tax; will also introduce a small profits rate.
  • A £250billion infrastructure investment fund spent over 10 years.
  • Supports High Speed 2 rail scheme; will deliver rail electrification to Wales.
  • Universal super fast broadband by 2022.
  • Expects companies applying for public procurement contracts to meet minimum standards on tax compliance, workers rights and union recognition.
  • Establish regional development banks.
  • Introduce a law to prevent bank closures in areas where there’s a clear local need for a branch.
  • Give employees first refusal over their employers businesses when put up for sale.
  • Re-nationalise the railways, Royal Mail, energy and water companies.
  • Will “empower”trade unions, repeal the Trade Union Act, introduce sectoral collective bargaining and re-establish a Ministry of Labour.
  • Ban zero hour contracts, ban unpaid internships and force employers to treat employees equally (i.e. part-time, self-employed) from their first day of work.
  • Raise the minimum wage to £10 per hour by 2020.


Energy & Environment

 

  • Ensure 60% of UK energy needs comes from zero carbon sources by 2030.
  • Introduce an emergency price cap on energy bills to ensure the average dual-fuel bill stays below £1,000 a year.
  • Supports nuclear energy projects.
  • Introduce a Clean Air Act to tackle air pollution.
  • Commit to the Paris Agreement on climate change and carbon reduction.


Welfare

 

  • Guarantee the “triple lock” on state pensions and winter fuel allowance.
  • Won’t increase the state pension age any further than 66 and will review the pension age with a view to creating a more flexible retirement system.
  • Scrap benefits sanctions, the “bedroom tax”, the“rape clause” for child tax credit and cuts to bereavement allowance.
  • Reinstate housing benefit for the under-21s.
  • Increase Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week for those in the work-related activity group; reform disability work assessments to provide personalised work plans for the disabled.
  • Increase carers allowance by £11 a week to match jobseekers allowance.


Criminal Justice

 

  • Recruit 10,000 more police officers and 3,000 extra prison officers.
  • Introduce “effective judicial oversight” for when investigatory powers should be used, particularly when national security outweighs personal freedom.
  • Hold public inquiries into “historic injustices”, including the Battle of Orgreave and blacklisting.
  • Review the judicial appointments process to ensure judges are more representative of society.
  • Review the legal aid means test and consider reinstatement of other legal aid entitlements.
  • Ban new private prisons and the privatisation of public sector prisons.


Defence

 

  • Undertake a strategic defence review to take into account emerging threats (i.e. cyber attacks).
  • Commit troops to UN peacekeeping missions.
  • Commit to spending at least 2% of GDP on defence.
  • Supports renewal of the Trident nuclear missile system.
  • Drive up standards in armed service housing.
  • Take “all lawful action” necessary to counter and confront so-called Islamic State.


Foreign Affairs

 

  • Rebuild some of the capabilities of the diplomatic services.
  • Won’t be “afraid to disagree” with the United States on foreign policy.
  • Supports the “two state solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
  • Create a Minister for Peace & Disarmament to work on conflict resolution.
  • Ban arms exports to nations that are likely to use them to violate international humanitarian law (particularly Saudi Arabia).
  • Continue to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid.


Immigration

 

  • End indefinite detentions of immigrants.
  • Recruit 500 extra Border Agency guards.
  • Replace the minimum income threshold for spouses to join their partners in the UK with a ban on claiming benefits.
  • Immigration policy will be changed to focus on skills gaps with the possible introduction of work permits, employer sponsorship and/or visa regulations.
  • Ban overseas-only recruitment.
  • Reinstate the Migrant Impact Fund to help communities struggling to cope with high immigration.
  • Commit the UK to taking in our “fair share” of refugees.
  • Won’t include international students in immigration figures, but will crack down on “fake colleges”.


Constitutional Reform & Misc.

 

  • Opposes a second Scottish independence referendum.
  • Establish a Constitutional Convention to reform how Britain works, possibly with a federal system.
  • Reduce the size of the House of Lords with a view to creating an elected second chamber at Westminster.
  • Seek to devolve policing to Wales.
  • Reduce the voting age to 16.
  • Repeal the Lobbying Act.
  • Create a “Minister for England”.
  • Create four new bank holidays on the nation patron saint’s days.
  • Retain the Human Rights Act.
  • Introduce no-fault divorces.
  • Keep Channel 4 in public ownership and “guarantee the future” of S4C.
 

Major faults:
  • There’s nothing on how much nationalisation of energy and water companies would cost. You’re looking at tens of billions of pounds at the very least – unless Labour are planning on “seizing the means of production”.
  • Once the cost of training and equipment are included, employing an extra police officer is likely to cost well above the £30,000-per-new officer budgeted for Labour’s police recruitment policy. Sorry, Diane.
  • Labour have voted in the National Assembly several times against banning zero hour contracts (in the care sector I believe). Do they support that position now? Will they vote to ban them in the future? What’s their position on scrapping tuition fees also?

Minor faults:
  • Labour published a side report outlining that its £48.6billion in additional spending commitments could be balanced by £48.6billion in tax rises and scrapping of tax reliefs. Fair enough 👍. However, this is before the promised £250billion in infrastructure spending over 10 years (which would presumably come from additional borrowing). Are the figures too optimistic?
  • There’s something to be said for rolling back many of the anti-union laws and regulations passed since the 1980s, but “empowering” trade unions sounds as ominous as “empowering” other vested interests like big business. For those who lived through it, the 1970s didn’t seem like being all flares, brown and disco.
  • Income tax will be partly devolved to Wales soon, so how will their pledges on income tax stand up here?
  • “Guarantee the future of S4C” – How?
  • House of Lords reform seems to have been in every Labour and Lib Dem manifesto for ages and nothing was done when both were in power, so why should we believe them now?
  • Creating a “Minister for England” sounds as half-baked as English Votes for English Laws. The “Minister for England” is, effectively, the Prime Minister anyway. It also contradicts their proposal for a Constitutional Convention if they’ve already reached a conclusion.