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Labour’s 2017 general election manifesto was leaked yesterday, and it is the clearest challenge to the rich and powerful that we have seen from any Labour leader in the last thirty years.
The Tory press is attempting to make the leak out to be a “disaster” for the Labour Party. But the radical content of the manifesto has blown this narrative out of the water.
In reality, the only people for whom Labour’s manifesto is a disaster is the corrupt political establishment and the super-rich, both of whom have much to lose if Labour is elected on such a manifesto.
Amongst other things, the manifesto lays out plans to nationalise the railways; partially nationalise the energy industry, and introduce a cap on fuel spending; reverse the privatisation of Royal Mail; ban fracking; abolish tuition fees and maintenance grants; reverse the privatisation of the NHS and provide it with an additional £6billion per year; work toward the creation of a National Care Service; lower the voting age to 16; scrap the bedroom tax; invest in council houses; maintain the “triple-lock” on pensions; introduce a minimum wage of £10 per hour by 2020; ban zero-hour contracts; and overturn the Trade Union Bill.
These are vote winning policies!
According to a 2015 Yougov poll, 58% of the public would support the nationalisation of rail and other utilities, with only 17% opposed. The public have also expressed consistent support for the renationalisation of Royal Mail.
Tax the super-rich!
But how will all this be funded, I hear you ask. Well, Corbyn’s Labour have laid that out too.
The manifesto outlines plans to raise taxes for individuals earning over £80,000, as well as introducing a 20:1 limit on the gap between the lowest and highest paid workers in companies given Government contracts.
This is in addition to clamping down on the tax avoiding super-rich – who, it is estimated, cost the British economy an eye-watering £120billion every year.
The last time the Labour Party went into an election on a radical manifesto was in 1983 when, much to the chagrin of the Labour right, Michael Foot was leader. Labour’s 1983 election manifesto was even more radical than Corbyn’s and pledged to scrap the House of Lords and nationalise the banks.
Clearly such demands would be met with widespread support today. After-all, it was the gambling and financial speculation of the bankers who led us into the 2007-2008 recession, and it is the working class who have been paying the price ever since.
Even if Corbyn has stopped short of calling for the nationalisation of the banks, this issue will undoubtedly this be posed if, once elected, he attempts to carry out a socialist program.
The fact that Michael Foot failed to win the 1983 election says little about the popularity of socialist policies. The main reason that Thatcher was re-elected in 1983 was because the Labour right, frothing at the mouth at Foot’s socialist policies, had split from the Labour Party to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The sole objective of the SDP was to keep a socialist Labour Party from power by splitting the left vote. They succeeded in this task, at considerable expense to the working class.
But today, the Labour right has been caught on the back foot. After two coup attempts and endless undemocratic membership purges, the Blairites have failed to remove Corbyn, and now they are heading into a general election.
The road will not be easy and the battle with the Blairites will continue even after the election, but the manifesto takes us a step closer to seeing a Corbyn-led government.
The front page of today’s Daily Mail claimed that “Labour’s manifesto plans to return Britain to the 1970s.” Well, if it means returning to an era when the Labour Party spoke up for the needs of ordinary people, then bring it on.
The Tories’, by contrast, will take us back to the 1870s!