Labour’s 2017 manifesto: not a Marxist wish-list, but a sensible blueprint for a successful society.

With the leak of an unfinished draft of Labour’s manifesto, media organisations and Conservatives have been quick to brand the document as a ‘hard-left’, ‘Marxist’ return ‘to the 1970s’, a ‘£50bn wish list’ and ‘a blueprint for economic failure’; but analysis and comparison with some of our most successful neighbours (and some with far fewer resources than us) shows it is nothing of the kind. Let us take a look a the manifesto pledges we are being told are so archaic, left-wing and impossible.


Railways brought back into public ownership as franchises expire.

In Sweden the main operator of passenger trains is the state-owned SJ AB. In Germany, all shares in the main railway company DB AG are owned by the State. In Spain all railways are state owned.


Energy market partially brought back into public ownership.

The Danish state owns the biggest energy company in Denmark. French and Swedish state owned energy companies operate and compete within our market, and we are proposing paying the French state owned EDF to build our next generation of nuclear power plants.


Tuition fees abolished and maintenance grants reintroduced for university students.

Free or cheap university education is available in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Belgium and many more — in fact, even in Scotland.


Labour “accepts the referendum result” and intends to build a close new relationship with Europe “not as members but as partners”, and retain benefits of single market and customs union.

Norway has full access to the single market but is not in the EU. It pays a contribution to the EU Budget to gain these economic benefits, and adheres to common regulations and standards. Switzerland is neither an EU or EEA member but has full access to the single market.


More than £6 billion extra annual funding for the NHS through increased income tax for top 5% earners, increased tax on private medical insurance and halving management consultants’ fees.

Norway spends US$6567 per capita per year on healthcare, or 9.3% of their GDP. The United Kingdom only spends US$4003 per capita.


Move towards creation of a National Care Service, improved conditions for care workers, 15 minute care visits scrapped.

Denmark began integrating Health and Social Care back in the 1980s; and has some of the highest rates of health, social health, happiness and life expectancy in the world.


Repeal Trade Union Act and introduce “sectoral collective bargaining” through unions.

Britain has some of the toughest restrictions on workers rights in Europe — worse than Germany, Spain, France and Italy. Our most economically and industrially successful neighbours, such as Germany, recognise the importance of a strong relationship between organised labour and industry.


Four new public holidays to mark patron saints’ days.

Finland has 15 public holidays, whereas Austria has 12, and Switzerland and France both have 11. The UK currently has 8 public holidays, the joint lowest in Europe.


Bring minimum wage in line with living wage — at least £10 — by 2020.

Denmark pays a minimum wage of 110 DKK, over £12. Currently the UK’s ‘living wage’ is below that recommended by the Living Wage Commission, and not actually enough to afford a decent standard of living without support from the state in the form of in-work benefits. Your taxes subsidise companies who choose to pay below the living wage.


“Triple lock” on state pensions guaranteed throughout next parliament or kept to at least 2.5 per cent.

Our state pension provision is one of the worst in Europe, below Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Belgium, France, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Finland, Austria and even Greece.


Invest to build one million new homes, including 100,000 council and housing association homes by the end of next parliament. 4,000 homes for people with history of rough sleeping.

In the aftermath of World War II, the Labour government built more than a million new homes, 800,000 of which were council houses. This pattern of state house building across Europe has fallen in recent decades in favor of private provision. But with the housing market spiraling out of control and the private sector consistently failing to build anywhere near the number of houses needed, isn’t it time for the state to intervene once again? If we could do it after the Nazi bombs, we can certainly do it now.


Rent rises capped to inflation and legal minimum standards in properties for rent.

Rent controls are in operation in Germany, France, Denmark and others — successful, modern, prosperous countries, not 1970s Marxist dystopias.


Scrap bedroom tax and reinstate housing benefit for under-21s.

I really don’t think I need to go into the bedroom tax, as I’d be hard pressed to find anyone outside of the Tory Government, never mind outside of the UK, who thinks it’s a good idea.


Borrow to invest £250 billion over 10 years on energy, transport and digital infrastructure. Improve 4G mobile coverage and invest to bring uninterrupted 5G to all urban areas, major roads and railways.

Britain’s historic lack of infrastructure investment has contributed to our poor productivity rates for decades. In current ranking we are behind Sweden, Demark, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway, all countries which invest in the infrastructure they need for their businesses and people to prosper. In the 21st century mobility, digital infrastructure and energy will play a critical role — if we want to succeed as a nation we must invest money now to boost our productivity and economic output down the line.


Keep defence spending over 2% of GDP.

The list of countries which spend more than 2% of their GDP on defense is extensive and diverse, including India, France, Australia, Turkey, Singapore, and Poland.


10,000 more police officers for community beats.

Police numbers have fallen by around 19,000 since 2010. In 2015 there were 207,140 police workers (126,818 of them officers), or around 323 per 100,000 people (or 192 officers per 100,000 people). This compares to 412 police per 100,000 people in Belgium, 340 in France, 503 in Greece, 456 in Italy and 445 in Portugal.


Extending the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

Ensuring that ALL women in the UK have their fundamental rights to control their own bodies protected by the state, as is the case with almost all of our European neighbours (with the exceptions of the Republic of Ireland, Poland and Malta).


No income tax rises for those earning below £80,000 a year. Large corporations will pay “a little more” tax while remaining competitive with cash paying for education and skills budgets. Extra powers for HMRC to chase individuals and companies who avoid tax.

In Denmark those earning over around £55,000 pay a base state income tax rate of 15%, supplemented by municipal and other taxes. While overall taxes are high in Scandinavia, Labour plans to shift the tax burden away from low and middle income earners, and towards those on the top salaries, the large tax-dodging corporations and those who benefit from all our tax money builds for them (their roads, governance, even their birth in an NHS hospital) but refuse to contribute, instead hoarding their wealth in off shore tax havens. This is not the politics of envy or class warfare — simply asking those with the broadest shoulders to carry the heaviest load and everyone to do their fare share, so we can all prosper together as a cohesive, compassionate society.


Countries such as Denmark, Finland and Norway in particular are vibrant, modern, outward facing nations, embracing the benefits that technological advancements bring us, pioneering in the energy and environmental sectors, investing in their young people and ensuring all are well cared for.

Scandinavian countries with social democratic policies like those suggested by Labour top the world tables in economic competitiveness, social health, life expectancy and happiness. Rather than a throwback to the 1970s or an oppressive Marxist-Leninist state, the policies in Labour’s manifesto are about building a better future for all of us.

In these Scandinavian countries it is rare for people to get ‘filthy-rich’, but also rare to find people who mired by poverty, living on the streets, relying on food banks. Lower inequality means stronger communities, less conflict, fewer crimes and a stronger economy that works for all.

The 1%, the wealth extractors, the Tories and their media barons do not have your best interests at heart. The Conservatives are the political wing of old aristocracy, labour-exploiters and tax-exiles, and the right-wing tabloids are their mouthpieces.

Don’t let them put this country down!
 
Look at what we accomplished even in the aftermath of the death and devastation of World War II — the NHS, massive house-building schemes and a social safety net to catch any who fall. If we could build it then, who the hell says we can’t do it now?

Don’t be fooled!

These are the same newspapers who said Labour’s NHS was pie in the sky, who said Labour’s minimum wage was doomed to failure and chaos. The voters didn’t believe these lies then, so why should we be tricked now?

Vote for the policies you want!

Survey after survey finds that the policies proposed by Labour are overwhelmingly backed by the majority of British voters. We have been crying out for years for politicians to stop ignoring us, to start acting in our interests rather than the interests of corporations, lobbyists and big money.

That time is finally here, if we embrace it. There is a Labour government in waiting, ready to implement the policies which we have been calling for and change all of our lives for the better. Not pipe dreams or loony-left theories, but tried and tested policies which have worked for our neighbours and can work for us. This is our time!

Vote Labour!


Sources:

Key points on Labour manifesto taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/11/at-a-glance-key-points-leaked-labour-manifesto/

https://www2.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/455633/Hilarys_Paper.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SJ_AB

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Bahn

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/study-abroad/free-university-education-courses-study-abroad-brexit-erasmus-students-germany-copenhagen-france-a7457576.html

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/oct/28/the-norway-option-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-britain

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_total_health_expenditure_per_capita

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/22/worker-world-index-employment-rights-inequality

https://www.mercer.com/newsroom/public-holiday-entitlements.html

https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2015/08/12/denmark-does-not-have-a-20-minimum-wage-try-11-70-instead/&refURL=https://www.google.co.uk/&referrer=https://www.google.co.uk/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14380936

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/police-workforce-england-and-wales-31-march-2015/police-workforce-england-and-wales-31-march-2015#police-workforce26,818

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_number_of_police_officers

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-manifesto-poll-voters-back-policies-jeremy-corbyn-latest-a7731536.html