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What the Labour Manifesto Means for You

Labour has pledged over a million new social homes, free full-fibre broadband by 2030 and the re-nationalisation of public transport.

by Ruby Lott-Lavigna
22 November 2019, 10:21am

Screengrab via BBC, collage by VICE staff. 

Yesterday, Labour launched its manifesto: a guide to how it would run the country should it come to power on the 13th of December. Although a manifesto doesn’t have to contain every single policy a party would implement, it does provide an outline of its key pledges. The stuff it’s really excited about, from transport to housing to school exams. In Labour’s case, the focus is on increased funding for public services and the “time for real change.”

The manifesto is looong, so we’ve picked out some interesting parts to dig through and think about. Alternatively, if you fancy settling down with a nice brew and spending an hour reading it like the well-informed citizen you are, you can do so here.

ENVIRONMENT

On the environmental crisis, Labour is bold. In fact, it’s almost hard to split the climate into its own section as almost all of Labour's policies – food, transport and even the NHS – cross over with environmental pledges. The climate is also the first section of Labour’s manifesto, showing that it isn’t a footnote to other policies, it’s a priority.

Labour ultimately pledges to bring the energy industry into public ownership, meaning that private profit-seeking won’t come at the expense of the planet. “In public hands,” it reads, “energy and water will be treated as rights rather than commodities, with any surplus reinvested or used to reduce bills.”

The manifesto commits to a Green New Deal and a Green Industrial Revolution that promises to put workers first in changing their industries. Labour says it will “deliver nearly 90 percent of electricity and 50 percent of heat from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030,” and build 9,000 new offshore and onshore wind turbines, plus “enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches” and new nuclear power “needed for energy security.” Fracking will be banned, and Labour will introduce a “zero-carbon homes standard” for new homes.

Labour also has policies to penalise companies that don’t commit to improving the environment, such as taxing oil producers and regulating businesses allowed on the Stock Exchange depending on their commitment to the environment.

Labour’s transport policy also centres on cutting emissions. There will be more investment in cycle routes and walking, as well as an increased number of charging points for electric vehicles.

HOUSING

The Labour manifesto states that “everyone has the right to a decent, secure home.” As a result, the party wants to tackle the housing crisis in a serious way. Public land will be used to build houses, rather than sold off to private companies, and there will be taxes for private developers who stall on their commitment to build.

Labour is pledging to build over a million new council and social homes over the next ten years. It will finally end Right to Buy, a policy introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government, which many believe (in combination with a lack of new houses built) to have significantly contributed to our modern housing crisis.

If you fear that buying a house will forever be out of reach, Labour’s manifesto wants to tackle that. It will “build more low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers in every area,” as well as introducing “new discount homes with prices linked to local incomes.” Labour pledges to give locals first dibs on properties in their area and reform the 'Help to Buy' scheme for those on “normal incomes.” Labour will give councils the power to tax properties that are empty for over a year.

For the millions of people who rent in the UK, and with that number still rising, Labour wants to “protect private renters through rent controls, open-ended tenancies and new, binding minimum standards.” It will introduce rent-caps with inflation, allow councils to cap rent further, end no-fault evictions (something the Tories agreed to do, but has yet to come into effect) and fund new renters unions. It will also get rid of landlords' ability to check immigration statuses, or if their tenant is on benefits.

In order to tackle the homelessness crisis, Labour pledges to build 8,000 additional homes for people with a history of rough sleeping and introduce “a national levy on second homes used as holiday homes.”

TRANSPORT

Labour will re-nationalise buses and trains. What will this mean? Improved services, and where councils take control of their buses, "Labour will introduce free bus travel for under-25s.” When it comes to trains, re-nationalisation will make fares “simpler and more affordable.”

EDUCATION

Hate exams? Labour does too! Labour is pledging to scrap Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs, in order to “refocus assessment on supporting pupil progress.” It will also diversify the curriculum, making sure that arts and music lessons aren’t lost, and bring back the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA). Free school meals will be introduced for all primary school children.

When it comes to university, where millions of students are in debt thanks to a fee hike in 2012 by the Tories and Lib Dems, Labour is keen to undo that damage by abolishing tuition fees and bringing back the maintenance grant. There will be better funding for universities and better protection for teaching staff.

THE NHS

Labour is upfront that the NHS will be better funded under them, announcing this even before the manifesto was launched. It will pay for imrpovements by introducing a “fairer” tax system that taxes those earning over £80,000, and reversing the Tories cuts to corporation tax.

There’s so much in Labour's manifesto about improving the NHS that it’s hard to condense it into one paragraph. However, the main points are the focus on reversing the privatisation of the NHS under the Tories, and increasing spending on the NHS – both on wages of those working there and the services it provides.

There’s also a big focus on the current lack of mental health provisions. Labour will invest more in mental health services, including £1.6 billion to ensure that mental health services are protected, £2 billion to improve mental health hospitals and £845 million on mental health services for the young. Labour will guarantee every child has access to school counsellors.

Labour will also provide free annual dental check-ups for everyone, fully funded sexual health services, and launch a National Care Service to tackle the social care crisis.

OTHER COOL SHIT

  • Labour will deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030.
  • In the public sector, Labour will enforce maximum pay ratios of 20:1.
  • Public service workers, like nurses and teachers, will receive “year-on-year above-inflation pay rises, starting with a 5 percent increase, to reward and retain the people who do so much for us all.”
  • Labour will extend paid maternity leave to 12 months.
  • Labour will “set new standards for tackling domestic and sexual abuse and violence, and appoint a Commissioner for Violence against Women and Girls.” It will also introduce a review of “shamefully low rape prosecution rates.”
  • Labour will introduce a "Real Living Wage" of at least £10 per hour for all workers aged 16 and over.
  • Within a decade, the average full-time working week will be reduced to 32 hours, with "no loss of pay, funded by productivity increases."

NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS

There’s nothing on drug decriminalisation, nor is there a committed pledge to ban private schools, something voted in favour of at the Labour party conference this year. However, the manifesto does say that Labour will “close the tax loopholes enjoyed by elite private schools” and “ask the Social Justice Commission to advise on integrating private schools.” It also notes that it will work with universities to introduce “contextual admissions” – a.k.a. taking people's schooling backgrounds into account – for those who apply to university.

@RubyJLL

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NHS
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Jeremy Corbyn
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