Jeremy Corbyn pledged the biggest expansion of the state into public life since the 1970s as he launched the party’s manifesto this morning.
Labour’s manifesto launch was expected to be a throwback. Higher taxes for the rich, renationalisation of utilities, and public ownership of transport. The appearance of the party’s 1992 election song ‘All Together Now’ and questions from the Morning Star helped add to the retro feel.
However, leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged that the manifesto, ‘For the Many, Not the Few’, was a radical proposal for 21st century Britain and it was the Conservative’s plans to bring back fox hunting and grammar schools that would drag the country back to the 1970s.
He promised a “programme of hope” for voters, and quoting his campaign slogan, that the party would “govern for the many not the few”.
The manifesto, leaked to the press last week, promised a fiscal credibility rule. However it was announced this morning that the money for the planned re-nationalisation would come from borrowing.
Labour’s plans in brief
- Triple lock pensions guarantee.
- Bring private rail companies into public ownership – but only as the franchises expire. This means it will be 2030 until all franchises are in public hands
- Nationalise the National Grid and implement a ‘decentralised energy system’
- Publicly owned water companies
- Nationalise the Royal Mail again “at the earliest opportunity”
- A Brexit that “works for every community in Britain”
- Hints towards a points based immigration system
- A National Education Service
- £250bn of borrowing over ten years for infrastructure.
- No increases in Income tax to remain same for those earning less than £80,000
Yet Corbyn defended the party’s economic credibility by saying that the Conservative Party in the last five years have borrowed more money than every Labour government in history.
“Our revenue plan will not risk jeopardy on our public finances,” he said.
Plans were announced for the top 5% of earners to face a tax rise, to “help fund public services that have suffered at the hands of Tory austerity”.
Those who earn over £80,000 will pay a 45p tax rate, and the 50p rate will be imposed on those who are paid more than £123,000.
He also said that by raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour by 2020, it would bring the welfare bill down as people would be less reliant on benefits.
The launch, held at The University of Bradford, was attended by party supporters and Corbyn was cheered loudly at points throughout the speech.
His supporters turned their fire on journalists however, booing Channel 5‘s Andy Bell who asked Corbyn if he believed it would be a good thing if immigration came down.
In the next batch of questions, the Morning Star asked if Corbyn would do anything about the “shockingly biased media”.
The Labour leader, who has been criticised for not stepping in when his supporters have harangued journalists in the past, asked them to show respect, and declared he was a member of the NUJ, and believed in a free press.
Corbyn also paid tribute to former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who had links with Bradford and was born in Yorkshire.
After some of his policies were leaked last week, polling showed that they are broadly popular with the public.
71% supported banning zero hours contracts, and 52% backed renationalising British railways, but only 30% thought Corbyn should be given a fair chance at leading the country, according to ComRes.
In the latest polls, Labour were 17 points behind the Conservatives, on 29.8 points compared to the Tories’ 46.8 according to Britain Elects poll of polls.