UK Election 2019 Manifestos: Labour

As said previously, these manifesto articles are only going to focus on policies which are non-devolved – so won’t count education, health, social care, some aspects of transport, housing etc.

It’s Time For Real Change (English – pdf)

Brexit

  • Rules out a No Deal Brexit.
  • Will renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement towards a “sensible deal” within 3 months and will hold a second referendum on the new deal vs Remain within 6 months.
  • The “sensible deal” will include a customs union, alignment with the EU single market, alignment on workers rights, environmental rights and consumer protection, continued participation in some EU agencies and commitments on security.

Economy & Tax

  • Raise an additional £82.9billion a year through various tax reforms, resulting in £3.4billion a year in Barnett Formula consequentials/extra money for Wales by 2023-24.
  • Introduce a Living Wage of £10-per-hour for over-16s.
  • Scrap public sector pay caps.
  • Establish a Ministry for Employment Rights; give every employee full rights from day one.
  • A 10% share of large companies should be owned by employees.
  • Lower the income threshold for the 45% income tax rate to £80,000, introduce a 50% rate for those earning £125,000+ a year.
  • Increase corporation tax to 21% for small profits and 26% for the main rate; introduce a multinationals rate.
  • Raise £6.2billion through clamping down on tax avoidance.
  • Raise £5.2billion by reversing cuts to inheritance tax, introducing VAT for private school fees, scrapping the Marriage Allowance and introducing a second homes tax.
  • Guarantees no increase in VAT rates.
  • Spend 3% of GDP on research by 2030.
  • Invest in three new “gigafactories” for electric vehicles and four metal recycling plants.
  • Nationalise the railways.
  • Deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030 through the establishment of British Broadband – a part-nationalised BT Openreach.
  • Ban zero-hour contracts.
  • Employers who fail to address pay inequalities will be fined; companies employing 250+ workers will need to obtain certification on gender equality or face auditing and/or fines.
  • Reduce average working hours to 32-hours a week within 10 years.
  • Employment tribunals will remain free and will have their powers extended.

Criminal Justice

  • Recruit 2,000 more frontline police officers than proposed by the Conservatives.
  • Reform the police funding formula.
  • Establish a Royal Commission to develop a public health-based approach to drugs.
  • Introduce minimum standards of service for victims of crime.
  • Review the Prevent anti-terrorism programme.
  • Halt the current programme of court closures.
  • Ban cross-examination of domestic abuse victims by their accuser.
  • Court-issued warrants will be required for undercover operations.
  • Nationalise privately-run prisons and the probation service.
  • Replace short prison sentences with community sentences.
  • Restore legal aid for nearly all cases.
  • Attacks on religious communities will be treated as an aggravated offence.

Immigration

  • Protect freedom of movement rights even if the UK leaves the EU; EU nationals will have the automatic right to continue living and working in the UK.
  • “Review border controls”.
  • Victims of the Windrush scandal will be compensated.
  • End indefinite detention for illegal immigrants; close Yarl’s Wood and Brook House detention centres.
  • Asylum-seekers will have the right to work and access public services.

Environment & Energy

  • Supports the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station.
  • Deliver 90% of electricity and 50% of heating from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030.
  • Eliminate fuel poverty by 2030 by upgrading every home to the highest energy-efficiency standards.
  • Introduce a windfall tax on oil companies.
  • Nationalise energy and water; establish a National Energy Agency to control the national grid.
  • End sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.
  • Achieve net-zero emission food production by 2040.

Welfare

  • Scrap universal credit eventually; in the short-term, emergency reforms will be introduced to fix the worst aspects.
  • Scrap the benefit cap, two-child limit, work capability assessments and bedroom tax.
  • Recruit face-to-face welfare advisors and abandon the digital-only approach.
  • Increase local housing allowance; increase Employment & Support Allowance by £30-a-week and increase Carer’s Allowance to the same rate as jobseekers allowance.
  • Halt proposed increases to the state pension age at 66; will maintain the state pension “triple lock”.
  • Extend statutory maternity pay from 9 to 12 months; increase paternity leave from two weeks to four.
  • Eliminate food bank use within three years of taking office and introduce a “Right to Food”.
  • Establish a Social Justice Commission and a Department for Women & Equalities.
  • Consider piloting a Universal Basic Income.
  • Cut the share of the surplus the UK Government takes from the miners’ pension scheme from 50% to 10%.
  • The Department of Work and Pensions will be replaced with a Department for Social Security.
  • Repeal the Vagrancy Act.

Defence

  • Commit to spending 2% of GDP on defence; increase funding for UN peacekeeping missions by £100million.
  • £50,000 compensation for victims of UK nuclear testing.
  • The UK Parliament will have to authorise any conventional military action.
  • Suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Israel due to human rights abuses and war crimes; introduce general arms export controls and end sales to anywhere where human rights or international law are violated.
  • Consider introducing a mobile phone-based emergency alert system.

Foreign Policy

  • Invest an additional £400million in the UK’s diplomatic capacity; will express support for human rights at all bilateral diplomatic meetings.
  • Commit to spending 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid – though aid spending on fossil fuels will stop.
  • Support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Conduct an audit of the UK’s colonial legacy and a judge-led inquiry into the UK’s complicity in rendition, secret courts and torture; issue a formal apology for the Amritsar Massacre.
  • Reject trade agreements which undermine labour rights and environmental protections.
  • Allow Chagos Islanders to return home.
  • If the UK votes to confirm leaving the EU, negotiate a new UK-EU Security Treaty.

Constitutional Reform & Miscellaneous

  • Abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected Senate of the Nations & Regions.
  • Establish a Constitutional Convention which will fully consider the Welsh Government’s constitutional reform plan.
  • Repeal the Fixed-Term Parliament Act 2011; reject a reduction in the number of MPs.
  • Introduce automatic voter registration and lower the voting age in UK Parliament elections to 16.
  • Overhaul lobbying, including introducing a lobbying register.
  • Protect free TV licences for the over-75s.
  • Implement the Leveson II recommendations on misconduct by the press; will establish an inquiry into “fake news”.
  • Introduce a fit and proper person test for football club owners and will review football club ownership rules; supporters trusts will have a right to remove and appoint at least two directors.
  • Regulate safe standing in stadiums.
  • Introduce a levy for problem gambling.
  • Will uphold the Human Rights Act.

The major faults are things that derail the manifesto, have been completely overlooked or are outright lies – including policies which are unachievable or sketchy at best.

The minor faults are more moderate errors, circular arguments, bombastic statements or policies which will be difficult to achieve in real life, make reference to devolved responsibilities or are otherwise confusing or poorly explained.

Major Faults:

  • Labour’s “sensible Brexit deal” sounds an awful lot like remaining in the EU or an EFTA-style arrangement. They haven’t been completely upfront about this.
  • To Labour’s credit, they’ve provided full costings (pdf), but it’s been disputed by fiscal experts as to whether the changes will raise the amount of money Labour claim it will.
  • As has been pointed out by others, the manifesto pledges to invest £100billion over ten years in Scotland, but just £3.4billion in Wales (via Barnett consequentials). I don’t know if this a case of it being poorly explained or some sort of mistake because the costings only show an additional £5billion a year in Barnett consequentials for Scotland by 2023-24. If this £100billion is on top of that, then it’s a massive slap in the face for Wales.
  • A recently-announced pledge to compensate WASPI women – which wasn’t included in the manifesto – hasn’t been accounted for.

Minor Faults:

  • There’s a lot of narratives, but a distinct lack of detail on many policies – like border controls and a replacement for universal credit.
  • Some of their policy proposals encroach on devolved areas (i.e fisheries) but they haven’t made any distinction or noted this.
  • There’s no specific mention of devolving criminal justice or any element of it despite clear support from the Welsh Government for at least the devolution of policing.
  • Some of Labour’s electoral reforms (i.e. voting reforms) are already happening or have been proposed in Wales.
  • The Senedd’s Standards Committee have rejected a lobbying register in Wales.
  • Should the Welsh Government be compensated (to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds) for their spending on Superfast Cymru if Labour’s broadband nationalisation plans happen?
  • The Welsh Government have had several opportunities to ban zero-hour contracts in certain sectors but have never done it, only moved to discourage their use.
  • The renewable energy targets are very ambitious to say the least, verging on undeliverable at the current pace of developments – including Labour’s policies in Wales.
  • An extra two weeks of paternity leave isn’t particularly generous.
  • Would Dwr Cymru – a successful not-for-profit – be nationalised?
  • There’s seemingly no Welsh language version of the manifesto at time of posting – though that might change in the coming weeks.
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