This is what life under Labour will look like, with the party promising to tax the super rich, help the poor and save the NHS
This year’s snap election has its first big talking point. Labour’s party manifesto was announced today (May 16), after main policies were leaked on May 10.
Named ‘For The Many, Not The Few’, Labour’s pitch to Britain is already the most talked-about manifestos in years. Tories claim it’ll take the country “back to the 1970s“. But on face value, it puts forward the idea of the United Kingdom could be some kind of paradise, where every citizen is treated fairly, with equal rights and opportunities. The poor won’t be screwed by the rich, younger generations won’t find housing and education so unattainable. To put it bluntly, it sounds great.
Scouring the extensive list of plans laid out by the party – read the full manifesto here – Labour suggests this country doesn’t need to grin and bear it, that the rich don’t have to get richer, that we don’t need to be subjected to a dismantled NHS or to another decade of harsh austerity.
Of course, there’s a view that Labour won’t be able to back up most of these ambitious plans. If they’re elected – and it’s a big if, with Jeremy Corbyn’s support in middle England looking remarkably low – will they really be able to create this utopia?
But imagine for a second that once elected, all of this can become a reality. Here’s what you need to know about Labour’s leaked but legit manifesto:
Labour can’t be accused of being similar to the Tories anymore
During the Tony Blair years, Labour positioned themselves, bit-by-bit, in the centre ground. A ‘third way’ was suggested by Blair – a meeting ground between right-wing and left-wing policies that would suit the masses. Undoubtedly, this made Labour more electable, but it’s since caused an identity crisis. After Ed Miliband’s electoral failings – where he was neither one thing nor the other – Corbyn was selected as leader to help reignite Labour’s left, working class roots. This manifesto is the first substantial sign that it could happen. The poor and the youth are represented first, the super-rich are no longer allowed to sit comfy in their 1% bubble, and giant corporations can’t come here to dodge tax. Not one suggested policy looks remotely like something Theresa May would pledge in her yet-to-be-revealed manifesto. And arguably, for the first time since 2001, Labour are are viable, direct alternative to Tory rule. Nobody could possibly claim these two parties are one and the same.
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The NHS will be safe
Theresa May claims this snap election is about protecting the country’s future, that a huge majority would send shockwaves across Brussels and help with Brexit negotiations. What she really means is she could do with five uninterrupted years in which to consolidate power. Above every other issue, the NHS’ future hangs in the balance. But Labour promises to give an extra £6bn annually to the NHS. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act – which opened the NHS to privatisation – would be repealed. Forget cuts, or the average staff force being stretched beyond their means. Labour have provided an alternative to the health service’s sad decline.
The party also promises to take one million people off NHS waiting lists, guaranteeing care within 18 weeks. It aims to assist cancer treatment for 2.5 million people, end social exclusion for those with autism, while also providing free parking for patients, staff and visitors.
Young people will come first
In nutshell: The voting age would be reduced to 16. Tuition fees would be scrapped. Weekly EMA payments (previously £30 pw) would be reintroduced. Higher education would be more accessible for poorer families. Since 1997, tuition fees have been hiked from £3,290 per year to £9,000. Student loans help pay for those who can’t afford the fees, but that leaves us with a generation forever in debt. Not only that, once you’re out of university, chances are you can’t afford the average rent price of a flat, let alone set yourself up for a mortgage. “University tuition is free in many northern European countries, and under a Labour government it will be free here too,” the manifesto states.
Corbyn also wants to ban unpaid internships, making two-week trips to London for valuable experience so much more feasible. For the past two decades, younger generations have looked increasingly screwed, their futures decided by older self-interested voters with no eye on the future. Labour’s manifesto wants to reverse this.
Brexit means Brexit, but not the Tory way
Despite hysterical claims that Labour would try and reverse the Brexit vote and undermine democracy, their manifesto agrees it would accept the referendum result. It wants to provide a new approach which works for all, and this involves scrapping the Tories’ Brexit White Paper and avoiding a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’. It suggests negotiation tactics with Brussels – putting “a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the single market and the customs union” and making the whole process more of a transition than a shock departure. It hopes “to avoid a cliff-edge for the UK economy,” if a deal can’t be brokered immediately.
Train fares will be cheaper
Labour wants to renationalise the railways, in a policy that seems to be stirring most fear amongst the Tories. Repealing the 1993 Railways Act, they would freeze rail fares, add free wi-fi across the whole network, and improve access for disabled. “A publicly owned railway system can be the backbone of our plans for integrated transport. It will be built on the platform of Network Rail, which we will retain whole, working with the devolved administrations,” the manifesto states.
The environment will be protected
Corbyn wants to impose a ban on fracking, the controversial means of extracting oil or gas by drilling down into the earth’s crust. His party also wants to ensure the average household pays energy bills of no more than £1,000 per year, by introducing a price cap.
Workers will being given more rights
Zero hours contracts would be scrapped, meaning employers like Deliveroo couldn’t just sack poorly-paid, part-time workers on the spot. Many workers are also being screwed by working full-time hours but being forced to identify as “self-employed,” allowing companies to avoid paying their own tax. Labour hopes to shift “the burden of proof,” so that “the law assumes a worker is an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise.” As part of taxes on rich companies, the party also hopes to maintain a 20:1 ratio between the highest and lowest paid in the public sector. It also proposes four more public holidays, “so that workers in Britain get the same proper breaks as in other countries.”
Corbyn isn’t anti producing nuclear weapons, he’s just against using them
Anti-Corbyn slurs suggest the Labour leader would be totally for abolishing the UK’s nuclear program, removing thousands of jobs in the defence industry and making the country more vulnerable to attacks. However, Labour’s manifesto clarifies it supports the renewal of Trident, but that alongside other UN countries, it will aim to “create a nuclear-free world.” That might sound ludicrously optimistic given current global tensions and Donald Trump’s trigger-happy stance, but it’s a long term ideal.
Social care will be transformed
Social care services will gain another £8 billion in funding within a first term in parliament, putting less of a strain on the NHS. The party also hopes to create a National Care Service, “rooted in the traditions of our National Health Service.”
Housing will be more attainable
At least 100,000 council flats and houses will be built a year, giving greater housing options to poorer families. On top of this, 4,000 homes will be reserved for rough sleepers.
The rich will be taxed more
Labour’s NHS funding would be obtained by increasing tax for the highest 5% of earners, and tax on private medial insurance. “To date too many cuts have fallen on those with least – and we have seen child poverty rise to over 4 million, homelessness rise, and the queues grow at food banks. This cannot continue,” the document states. Corporations will be asked to pay “a little more” while still “keeping UK corporation tax among the lowest of the major economies.” Banks would be targeted (aka firms “with high numbers of staff on very high pay”) and workers earning £80,000 per year would be given a tax hike, with the other 95% of workers experiencing no tax rise. Essentially, this isn’t saying being rich is a crime, it’s saying the superrich won’t be given an easy ride anymore.