Fact Check: How crazy is Labour’s manifesto?

This is the first UK General Election for a long time to have the two main parties standing on very different platforms. Not surprisingly, both sides champion that difference as the reason why they should be voted for.

Already, the right-wing media has condemned the Labour Party manifesto as outright communist. From ‘Comrade Corbyn’, as George Osborne’s Evening Standard put it.

Regardless of what you think of Labour’s manifesto, it’s worth a quick fact check. How ‘radical’ and ‘hard-left’ is it?

To find out, I took the 11 economies that the IMF considers ‘Advanced’ from the G20, and compared them on a few of the key metrics.

As things stand: mid-table Britain

Looking at Human Development Index and GDP per capita, adjusted for spending power, the UK ranks 5th and 6th amongst the advanced G20 nations.

(The Human Development Index is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.)

Source: stats.oecd.org

So, economically and developmentally — there’s scope for change. But what about the key areas of the Labour party manifesto.

Corporation Tax

Source: Wikipedia, Labour Manifesto

Under the Labour Manifesto, the UK would move from by far the lowest corporation tax rate in these advanced economies to... the second lowest corporation tax rate — over the 5 year term of parliament.

The average tax rate of these countries, UK excluded, is 30%.

Public Healthcare Spending

Labour’s additional £38 billion over the course of the next parliament actually results in an extra £116 per person spending per year. Which actually doesn’t move the UK in the public healthcare spending league table.

Source: stats.oecd.org, Labour Manifesto

Spending obviously isn’t a measure of quality, and the US actually spends over $9,000 (PPP) per capita when private insurance is factored in.

Income Tax

Income tax is almost impossible to compare across countries, because of the other taxes that are involved, different collection and federal systems, and different tax bands. But, for the sake of an overview, here’s the % of the top rate of income tax across the advanced G20s.

This is the largest difference in the ‘league tables’ of any area, but partly because the complexities aren’t taken into account. Important to note here is that the United Kingdom has not moved off the chart of the 9-advanced G20s here, but moved to the top of the range.

Conclusion

I was going to show other areas too, but the story is the same across category after category. The UK moving from a lower than average spending position to an average or above average one. The UK joining 7 of the other 8 nations in having a mix of public and private energy supply. etc.

The most radical statistic I could find in my research, was the UK’s current 19% Corporation Tax rate, unheard of amongst advanced economies.

There’s nothing Marxist or Communist about this Manifesto — economically, it stays or moves to the centre of the advanced G20 economies. If I’d included more of Europe in this study, this proposal from the Labour party would look even less radical, and maybe even border on boring.

Like or loathe it — there’s no need to resort to hyperbole – it’s not communist.

The very fact that this manifesto is seen as radical shows how narrowly right-wing British politics has become over the last 50 years.

The Bourgeoise can sleep easy… for now.

[17–05–2017 Updated to include definition of Human Development Index]