The Labour and Tory manifestos. Unlike what we saw with under the Blair, brown and Miliband years of the Labour Party, these manifestos seem to offer a clear and distinct choice. This is not just seen in policy but in the parties overall approach. One is a very carefully costed vision of hope for the country, where the government invests in the future of its people in order to make things better. The other is a completely un-costed nightmarishly Dickensian vision of a future where the government effectively turn Britain into a hard right tax haven on the shores of Europe.
I don’t generally put this into my blog posts, because it is bloody obvious that what you read here is my opinion, but in the interests of informing my audience I recommend you take a look at the manifestos for yourselves and make up your own mind rather than taking the word of some leftie blogger you have found on the internet. Here is the Conservative one and here is the Labour one. You will see from reading them what I mean about the stark contrast between the visions.
The Labour Manifesto
The Labour Manifesto is not perfect. My main objections include their commitment to the renewal of Trident, their strategically idiotic stance on Scottish Independence and their failure to take a stronger stance against academies toppling education budgets in order to pay for executive salaries. However, it is by far the best manifesto I have seen from them.
Education: Labour are planning to bring in a national education service, the concept of education as a human right and not a product to use for profit is something that should have been acknowledged a long time ago. Labour are also pledging to Abolish Tuition Fees, thus meaning that students won’t be loaded with mountains of unrepayable debt when they leave university. Thirdly, Labour want to introduce a policy of free school meals to cover all primary school children: who could have thought that having children well fed would be a good idea?
Disability: Labour will repeal the numerous cuts in social security support for people with disabilities, through a new social security bill. In addition to this, Labour will scrap the blatantly unfit for purpose WCA and PIP assessment regime’s, replacing it with a system that allows disabled people to develop a tailored personal plan. Given that the UK government has been criticised severely by the UN for ‘Grave violations of Disabled peoples rights’ it only seems appropriate that Labour will incorporate the UN convention on disabled people rights into UK law. Finally, Labour have announced that they will adopt the social model of disability, this would mark a profound change in the way policy is made, making it focus on the removal of societal barriers rather than dehumanising attempts to ‘cure’ disabled people.
Immigration: Instead of following Theresa Mays model of picking a number out of thin air and making no effort to stick to it, Labour want to address some of the harmful impact of migration with a series of specific policy pledges (clamping down on gang mastering, a Ban on exclusive overseas recruitment, restoring the migrant impact fund to boost public services in areas with high immigration)
Tax: Labour Guarantee not to raise income tax on 95% of ordinary people. The principle of not raising taxes on low income people and making those with the broadest shoulders pay the greatest amount marks a profound change in what the Tory’s have been doing for the past 7 years (the full burden of austerity for the poorest, lavish tax cuts, endless government subsidies for the super-rich. Labour are also planning to gradually raise the level of corporation tax to 25% over the next five years, which is still the lowest of any country in the G7.
Economy: Labour are going to help small businesses by restoring the small profits rate: It is only sensible that infant industries pay a smaller rate than multinationals. This encourages entrepreneurship and mitigates against the advantage that sizable economies give to corporate behemoths. In addition to this, the Labour policy of renationalising some of the UK’s most vital infrastructure (much of which is in the hands of foreign governments) is very sensible and popular with the public. Labours plan to end the Tory’s disastrous austerity agenda and replace it with an investment led approach, is a long awaited blast of economic competence from the party that lost its way so badly by pursuing an ‘austerity lite’ agenda, during the 2015 general election.
Environment: Labour will invest in rural and coastal communities, as well as investing in flood defences. The Party will also introduce a ‘clean air act’, which would hold companies to an air pollution standard. The Labour Party say that they will plant a million trees and, unlike the Tories, say how they are going to pay for it. Labour will cease the cruel and dangerous Badger Cull. Last but not least, they will ban the unnecessary practice of fracking.
Health and Welfare: The Labour plans to properly fund the NHS and Mental health services is something only the most blinkered of Tory fanatics could disagree with. Labour will also keep the pensions triple lock, winter fuel payments and properly fund social care. These should be big vote winners amongst the older generations (depending of course of whether or not the older generations actually find out about these policies).
The Tory Manifesto
It is only fair that I should point out the positives in the Tory manifesto before I start. They want to plant a million trees (but don’t say how much that will cost). They want to phase out their costs in infustructure spending (they don’t say what that will cost either). They say they want to invest in further education (no costings) and they vaguely promise to increase funding for cycling infustructure (yep, no sums provided).
Education: The Tory’s are planning to scrap free school meals for children. While not strictly education related, they are also planning to throw the leveson enquiry onto the fire as if Rupert Murdoch never hacked into Milly Dowler’s phone at all. The reason I bring this up in this section is that the public have a right to know about the phone hacking, so they know not to blindly trust the UK press.
Disability: The Tory manifesto really doesn’t give me much to work with on the subject of disabled people…umm….there is a vague bit about ‘looking after everyone. I really don’t know what else you can expect. Given that the Tory party have so far presided over the tearing up of existing legislation in order to replace it with a dehumanising tests and cuts regime.
Immigration: The Tory’s are sticking with the arbitrary 100,000immigration target even though they have missed it over and over again since 2010. Pandering to the anti-immigration crowd is a priority at this election. Theresa May thinks she can recycle the same old immigration pledge for a third time, and the anti-immigrant will just lap it up as if they have never heard it before.
Tax: The Tories are sticking with their plan to give corporations a £70 billion tax break by reducing corporation tax to just 17% (that’s 10% below the global average of 27% and pretty much half of the G7 average of 32.3%). The Tories have also openly scrapped their pledge not to raise income tax and national insurance. If you work for a living, you have been warned about what they have in store for working people.
Economy: The tory manifesto admits they won’t be able to get rid of the deficit until ‘the middle of the next decade’. So that will be 15 years to achieve what they said they would do in less than five, and they’re actually boasting about it! They’re admitting that they are going to miss their own target by an entire decade. (Creating more public debt in the process), yet their still pretending to be the party of economics.
Environment: The Tories want to bring back the barbaric practice of ripping wild foxes apart with packs of dogs. 84% of the British public oppose it, but they will vote to bring it back if they win the election. The Tories also want to give fracking companies the power to drill wherever they like, stripping local councils of the power to decide whether they want fracking in their area or not.
Health and Welfare: The most attention grabbing policy is their Dementia Tax policy of assest stripping elderly people for the ‘crime’ of getting ill in their old age. Screw the fact that these people worked hard and paid their National Insurance and Council tax for decades In order to fund the NHS and social care. Their houses are now low hanging fruit for the Tory’s to harvest. They also say they want to chuck £8bn at the NHS, but given that this was promised in the last Tory manifesto, I think we can just treat it as a recycled pledge.
It’s absolutely clear that these manifestos offer two wildly different visions for the future. The Labour Party offers a positive investment based strategy where the government works to improve the lives of all citizens by investing in public services, infustructure, a national education service, housing and decent wages so people can actually lead a fulfilling life.
The Tory manifesto outlines a bleak dystopian future where the government works to confiscate as much wealth as possible from ordinary people, in order to fund even more lavish tax breaks for the corporations and the super-rich individuals that bankroll their party.