John Ashmore: When Labour leaks, it pours

Written by John Ashmore on 11 May 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

Labour's leaked general election manifesto includes plans to nationalise parts of the energy industry and scrap tuition fees.

So, that's what Labour have in mind for Britain. The party's entire draft manifesto somehow found its way into the hands of both the Mirror and the Telegraph late last night - and it doesn't disappoint.

The 43 pages amount to a complete overhaul of how Britain is run, with rail, mail and parts of the energy sector nationalised, an enhanced role for trade unions and a substantial increase in public investment - or a dangerous spending spree, in Tory parlance.

To no one's great surprise, the right-leaning papers have gone for a "back to the 1970s" vibe, with the Sun producing a flat-capped Corbyn in front of a hammer and sickle. Then again, the Mirror and the Guardian both lead on the nationalisation plans, arguably the most radical proposals of a pretty radical set of proposals. The reintroduction of national pay bargaining, appointing a Minister for Labour and fines for companies who pay high wages all point to a document which draws its inspiration from the past.

Much of this is pretty well-trailed, including the phased abolition of tuition fees, which John McDonnell blurted out at a campaign stop in Mansfield (as we revealed here). The £25bn a year for infrastructure investment, £8bn over the next Parliament for social care and yesterday's pledges on education spending were all more or less as expected.

The party continues to try to face both ways on Brexit, insisting it accepts we are leaving, will not countenance a "no deal" scenario and will give Parliament a "meaningful vote" - the very thing which could precipitate 'no deal'.  There is also no concrete commitment on immigration, beyond employing an extra 1,000 border guards and promising "fair and reasonable management" of the system.

A few other noteworthy elements include a plan to lower the voting age to 16, an extension of Freedom of Information requests to private companies undertaking public sector work and a ban on fracking.

Corbyn's supporters will absolutely love it, while the only solace for his internal opponents may be that the Labour leader will emphatically have to own the electoral consequences of his plans. A watered-down sop to the moderates this is certainly not.

One area they might be pleased with is Trident, where the draft commits to renewal, albeit with the frankly bizarre caveat that any Prime Minister should be "extremely cautious" about deploying nuclear weapons - who knew?

 

 

This article first appeared in the PoliticsHome breakfast memo.

 

 

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