Labour manifesto: Corbyn to unveil ‘programme of hope’

16 May

Jeremy Corbyn speaking on MondayImage copyright
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Jeremy Corbyn is to unveil a “radical and responsible” plan for government, vowing Labour will change the country and govern “for the many not the few”.

Launching his manifesto, he will pledge to reverse seven years of austerity but also “manage within our means”.

Plans include an “excessive pay levy” on salaries above £330,000, more free childcare and the nationalisation of England’s 10 water companies.

The Tories said the sums “don’t add up” and taxes would go up “dramatically”.

Labour is the first of the major parties to publish its manifesto ahead of the general election on 8 June.

Mr Corbyn will contrast his “programme of hope”, which he will maintain is fully costed, with what he will claim is Theresa May’s “fear-based” campaign and her “tight-fisted, mean-spirited” party.

“People want a country run for the many not the few,” he will say.

“For the last seven years, our people have lived through the opposite, a Britain run for the rich, the elite and the vested interests.

“Labour’s mission, over the next five years, is to change all that.

“It’s a programme that will reverse our national priorities to put the interests of the many first. It will change our country while managing within our means.”

Labour says 95% of people will not see their taxes go up. Speaking on BBC Breakfast, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said some of the highest earners would have to pay “a little bit more” but that precise details of any income tax changes would not be revealed until the manifesto’s launch at 11:00 BST.

A “ground-breaking” level of detail about policy costings would be provided, he promised.

Unconfirmed reports have suggested those earning more than £80,000 could face a rise in income tax to 45%.

Mr McDonnell said Labour was aiming to establish a “fair system” of taxation in order to “invest for the future”.


‘Distinctive choice’

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By political correspondent Iain Watson

Don’t be distracted too much by the detail. Labour’s manifesto will have policies on everything from preserving the bee population to the provision of wifi on public transport.

And don’t be mesmerised by what’s known in political circles as “retail offers” – price caps and fare freezes.

Taken together, Labour’s prospectus offers the most distinctive choice for voters in a generation. At its core are three interlinked arguments: First that austerity holds back – rather than helps – economic growth, so Labour would borrow billions for investment.

Second, that the better off – not necessarily the fabulously wealthy – along with many businesses should pay more in tax to meet the day to day cost of providing public services.

And third, that more regulation – and in some cases re-nationalisation – would ensure businesses operated in the interests both of consumers and the wider economy.

Those close to Jeremy Corbyn believe this programme places Labour not on the far left of politics but in the mainstream of northern European social democratic thinking. Now there will be a bit of political cross-dressing in this campaign, with the Conservatives under Theresa May showing a bit more enthusiasm for limited state intervention.

But the Labour manifesto will break with what’s often known as the Anglo-Saxon economic model of lower taxation and flexible labour markets and in doing so, the party is distancing itself not just from the Conservatives but from its New Labour predecessor too.


A draft version of the Labour manifesto was leaked last week.

The 51-page document included commitments to take the railways and the Royal Mail back into public ownership while also nationalising the electricity distribution and transmission networks.

The BBC understands Labour will also announce on Tuesday that it intends to take the multi-billion pound water industry into public ownership.

It would create nine new public bodies to run the water and sewage system in England.

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Image caption

The manifesto will promise an increase in subsidised childcare

By ending the practice of paying dividends to shareholders and reducing interest payments on debt, party sources say bills would be reduced by around £100 a year per household – the equivalent of a cut in water bills of around 25%.

The industry, which was sold off in 1989 by the government of Margaret Thatcher, would be taken into public ownership either by simply buying the shares of the existing companies or by a compulsory measure whereby companies would have to be given government bonds in exchange for the shares.

Free childcare

There will also be a commitment in the manifesto to provide 30 hours of free childcare for all two to four-year-olds, covering 1.3 million children.

Labour have already made a series of tax pledges, including increasing corporation tax by 19% to 26%, a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions and asking the top 5% of earners to pay more, to fund multi-billion pound spending commitments on health, education and policing.

The manifesto will also include a pay levy designed to discourage companies from paying “excessive” salaries.

Companies paying staff more than £330,000 will pay a 2.5% surcharge while salaries above £500,000 will be charged at 5%. Labour has said the move, designed to reduce pay inequality by bearing down on “very high pay”, will only apply to firms with “high numbers of staff”.

The Conservatives said taxpayers would have to foot the bill for Labour’s unfunded spending commitments.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s economic ideas are nonsensical,” said Treasury minister David Gauke. “It is clear that Labour would have to raise taxes dramatically because his sums don’t add up.”

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