General election 2019: Labour launches 'radical' manifesto

Written by on November 21, 2019

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</figure><p class="story-body__introduction">Labour has launched its general election manifesto, promising to "transform" the UK and to renationalise rail, mail, water and energy.</p>

Leader Jeremy Corbyn also promised “a green transformation” of the economy, but a pledge to make the UK “zero carbon” by 2030 has been watered down.

The manifesto sets out plans for a windfall tax on oil firms and scrapping rises in the state pension age.

Mr Corbyn said his offer to voters was “radical” and would mean “real change”.

On Brexit, Labour says it wants to renegotiate a new Brexit deal, incorporating a close relationship with the EU, which would then be put to a “legally binding” referendum.

On Scottish independence, the party says it would not grant permission for a referendum on the issue “in the early years” of a Labour government.

BBC economics correspondent Dharshini David said Labour’s manifesto pledges would add £83bn to annual government spending by 2024.

The party said this would be paid for by tax increases on higher earners and reversing corporation tax cuts.

What is in the Labour manifesto?

  • £75bn to build 150,000 new council and social homes a year, within five years
  • Introducing a “real living wage” of at least £10 an hour
  • Reviewing the retirement age for people in hard manual jobs
  • Introducing a second homes tax
  • Reversing inheritance tax cuts and imposing VAT on private school fees
  • Giving EU nationals living in UK the automatic right to stay
  • Reinstating 3,000 bus routes that have been cut
  • Free broadband for all, delivered by part-nationalising BT
  • A £3bn plan to offer adults in England free access to retraining
  • A pledge to reduce all primary school classes to fewer than 30 children
  • An increase in the length of statutory maternity pay from nine months to a year
  • Free personal at-home care in England for over-65s most in need of it
  • A pledge to renew the Trident nuclear deterrent and spend at least 2% of GDP on defence
  • Reducing the voting age to 16

Speaking at Birmingham City University, Mr Corbyn insisted Labour’s policies were fully costed and “popular”.

But there has been internal controversy over the idea of a one-off tax on oil companies, with some trade union officials fearing it would damage Scotland’s North Sea Oil industry.

Mr Corbyn is promising to set up a £250bn Green Transformation Fund – to be paid for through borrowing – to fund 300,000 new “green apprenticeships” and loans for people to buy electric cars.

In September, Labour’s annual conference passed a motion urging the party to commit to make the UK carbon neutral by 2030 – matching the Green Party’s key general election pledge.

But in its manifesto the Labour is instead promising to “achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 in a way that is evidence-based”.

The watering-down follows complaints from trade unions and others in the Labour movement who feared the pledge would be impossible to meet.

‘We will deliver’

Mr Corbyn said it was a “manifesto of hope”, adding: “Over the next three weeks, the most powerful people in Britain and their supporters are going to tell you that everything in this manifesto is impossible.

“That it’s too much for you. Because they don’t want real change. Why would they? The system is working just fine for them. It’s rigged in their favour.

“If the bankers, billionaires and the establishment thought we represented politics as usual, that we could be bought off, that nothing was really going to change, they wouldn’t attack us so ferociously. Why bother?

“But they know we mean what we say. They know we will deliver our plans, which is why they want to stop us being elected.”

The party is hoping its manifesto will help it get back into power for the first time since 2010, but the opinion polls so far suggest it is heading for defeat on 12 December.

Labour is locked in a battle with the Conservatives – who are also promising to borrow money to spend on public services – in seats across the Midlands and the north of England.

In his speech, Mr Corbyn said voters could trust his party to deliver its pledges because “we’re opposed by the vested interests for standing up for a different kind of society”.

“We’ll deliver real change for the many, and not the few,” he said.

Responding to the manifesto launch, the Conservatives said: “A Corbyn-led government would mean higher taxes, the chaos of two more referendums, and frightening levels of debt.”

A spokesman added that “hardworking taxpayers” would be left to “foot the bill”.

Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said Mr Corbyn’s wider plans would be “badly damaged” if Labour took the UK out of the EU.

He added that “the extensive plan of nationalisation” would “keep government locked down for years”.

What are the other parties pledging on Brexit and carbon neutrality?

The Conservatives say they will deliver Brexit by the end of January 2020 under the terms of the PM’s deal negotiated with the EU.

The Liberal Democrats have vowed to cancel Brexit if elected as a majority government, or otherwise campaign for a referendum including the option of staying in the EU.

The SNP wants Scotland to stay in the EU. The Brexit Party wants the UK to leave immediately without an exit deal, but negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU.

The Conservatives have said they want to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, while the Liberal Democrats have pledged to achieve this by 2045.

The Green party has gone even further, by aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030. The SNP says it wants a 100% reduction in emissions as soon as possible.

Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Birmingham and Black Country


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