General election 2017: Labour to reveal tax plans in manifesto launch – politics live

16 May

Welcome back to the stump with our daily campaign live blog. I’m Claire Phipps with what you need to know right now, plus the early breaking news; Andrew Sparrow will be along later. Come and chat in the comments below or find me on Twitter @Claire_Phipps.

What’s happening?

The Labour manifesto: so good they launched it twice. After last week’s leaked draft, real sight starts now with the official unveiling. Expect the two versions to be cross-checked more forensically than most electoral promises, for signs of altered policies, missing lines and corrected semi-colons.

(Don’t use all your manifesto-poring quota on Labour, though: Plaid Cymru’s also appears today; and the Lib Dems are drumrolling theirs with promises on benefits for startups, a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups and the return of nursing bursaries.)

While we wait for Labour’s formal announcement, nibble on these hors d’oeuvres dished out to the media in advance:

  • a fat-cat tax on big businesses, banks and Premier League clubs, with employers charged a 2.5% levy on earnings above £330,000 and 5% on those above £500,000 (in the Guardian);
  • a commitment to “consider the option of a more federalised country” (also the Guardian);
  • 30 hours a week of free nursery care for all two-year-olds until they start school, along with capital investment to create enough spaces (in the Mirror);
  • nationalising the water and sewage system in England (BBC).

Are there any bedazzling surprises still to jump out of the cake? Details of the tax rises for those earning over £80,000 a year, of course – though the hint is that they might move into the 45% bracket, with a new 50p top rate somewhere higher up the scale.

On the subject of surprises – although politicians really ought to be less surprisable by now, after Gordon Brown v Gillian Duffy, and The Thick Of It repeats – Theresa May met a real voter yesterday.

Cathy Mohan told the PM, on a walkabout in Abingdon, that she had learning disabilities and was left with £100 a month to live on, and no carer support, after government changes to disability benefits. May’s response? “We’ve got a lot of plans for people with mental health.” Which is all very well, except learning disabilities and mental health problems are two distinct things. Primer for the prime minister, please.



Voter confronts Theresa May over disability benefit cuts – video.

Despite this, May, in a Facebook Live Q&A with ITV’s Robert Peston, insisted she’d still rather take questions from the public than debate the Labour leader; the first televised leaders’ head-to-head is due to go ahead on Thursday without either of them. Jeremy from Islington did manage to get his question put to the PM by Peston. But with peak audience figures hitting 14,500 (technically a zero audience in TV terms), not many people would have witnessed the answer.

Amid the snubs and tirades, though, a glimmer of that once-heralded kinder, gentler politics. Vote Labour, says Alistair Campbell. Tory voters are “our friends”, says Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth. Here’s Ukip stepping aside for Conservative candidates who promise to push for a “decisive Brexit”. All very chummy. But things turn bitter back on Facebook – to be fair, that’s what it’s for – where the Tories have set off a digital sprinkler of attack ads against Corbyn. The same analysis found Labour’s online campaign so far barely mentions him.

At a glance:

Poll position

A small contraction in the Tory lead – more like a Braxton Hicks – in yesterday’s Guardian/ICM poll, with the Conservatives down one point on 48% and Labour up one to 28%. The Lib Dems snuck up one to 10%; Ukip and the Greens as they were on 6% and 3% respectively.

Survation for ITV’s Good Morning Britain yanks Labour up to 30%, with the Conservatives still on 48%.

And in “can we trust the pollsters?” part 274: spot the flaw in this YouGov survey “from each region of the UK”.

Diary

  • At 10am, Leanne Wood launches Plaid Cymru’s manifesto in Rhondda.
  • We’ll also get Labour’s version at 11am, in Bradford.
  • Tim Farron’s Lib Dem battlebus is touring the south of England.
  • At 2pm, in South Queensferry, Nicola Sturgeon gives a speech to mark 10 years of SNP government at Holyrood.
  • From 7pm, Theresa May takes part in a Conservative-run “telephone town hall”; you can sign up here to receive an enticingly titled “autocall”.
Leanne WoodPicture by Jon Super for The Guardian Newspaper. Pic fao Michael Williams re story by Steven Morris Picture shows Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood photographed on the pier in Bangor ahead of the UK general election, Tuesday April 25, 2017. (Photo/Jon Super 07974 356-333)

Leanne Wood on the pier in Bangor. Photograph: Jon Super for the Guardian

Read these

Siobhan Fenton, in the Spectator, says the PM’s weekend visit to Northern Ireland has “backfired spectacularly”:


Theresa May has, perhaps more than any other modern British Prime Minister, shown disinterest, if not outright contempt, for Northern Ireland. Clearly focusing on Brexit, she sees Northern Ireland as an unnecessary distraction to her main goal. So her decision to visit Northern Ireland, in order to ask for votes, naturally went down badly. The move risked showing an arrogant attitude that she would only come when she had something to get from the Northern Irish in return …

Her visit has reignited disdain for and distrust of what many in Northern Ireland consider to be the British establishment. At a crucial time for power-sharing talks (which are still in limbo due to another deadline extension), this may extinguish goodwill from Northern Irish parties towards Britain and flare tensions further in what is already a fraught situation.

In the New European, Patience Wheatcroft, a Conservative peer, wonders what place there is for remainers in the party:


The ‘C word’ seems to have been banished from the blue party’s lexicon. As the hoardings at press conferences declare, it is now ‘Theresa May’s team’. She and the members of that team exhort the electorate to vote for her, not her party, although her name will only appear on the ballot papers for Maidenhead. The manifesto, when it emerges, will be hers, drafted by her trusted henchmen, a programme for the May presidency.

This is somewhat disconcerting for someone who felt comfortable being labelled as a ‘Conservative’, albeit of the ‘One Nation’ variety … Worse still, I remain a remainer, a position which May cannot countenance. Yet, according to You Gov, 39% of Conservatives voted to remain in Europe on that fateful day last June and a majority of Conservative MPs were firm believers in the need for Britain to remain in the EU. They haven’t all changed their minds because, by a narrow margin, a majority of voters felt differently.

Revelation of the day

Spotted by BuzzFeed in Australia: a backbench Labor (that’s how they spell it; don’t bombard the readers’ editor) MP has deleted a tranche of tweets critical of Corbyn, whom he had called a “Hamas and Hezbollah supporter” who “must go”. Michael Danby told BuzzFeed “[I] certainly haven’t changed my attitude” and blamed the wipe on a “miss-interpolation” by his staff, which now knocks “mis-spoke” off the top of the excuse charts.

The day in a tweet

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