Election 2017. The Manifestos- PART 1: LABOUR and LIBERAL DEMOCRATS.

**********************ROLLING BLOG**********************

Here will be full info and analysis on ALL the manifestos.

Firstly, what is a manifesto?

Well the clue is in photo (above). And they’re not new. The precedent for parties to have them was set under the First Minister (later called Prime Minister, and the first to hold such office) Robert Peel in 1834 with the ethos that voters are entitled to know what politicians intend to do in government before they cast their ballots. Here is a copy of his.  There are about four declared policies, but it set the ball rolling.

However, now this is such a matter of fact that many don’t bother to read them before they cast their vote.

Today (16/05/17), Labour and the Lib Dems released their manifesto so have combined them into one blog.

For a copy of Labour‘s in full, click here.

For a copy of the Lib Dems‘ in full, click here.

You’d think from all the MSM froth about Labour‘s (for example, the BBC blatant lie at the end of week 4’s election blog) that the Lib Dems didn’t exist right now, which is a little unfair.

Labour

My first impression (available in audio, sign language (which they pledge to make an official language- and no it isn’t right now in law, which is ridiculous– abridged and full form) as I read through is the staggering amount of detail but how simply it is written. It’s 50 pages longer than the 2015 manifesto! Here’s a summary:

100 new policies lp

(Picture credit: Eoin)

I’m finding little to critique. (Though I’m sure many of the billionaire-owned MSM outlets will find a way 😉 ) Though maybe only 5, possibly 10 of the policies would benefit me directly, it is a wonder to see such a comprehensive overhaul of the inequalities in our current social and economic system put on the table.

Because it’s all a knock on effect-

  • none of these policies are standalone
  • few are negative plans (e.g. ‘halt’, ‘ban’)
  • and when they are, they are in areas sorely needed, like women’s refuges, cuts and Sure Starts.

And this isn’t even the entire list!

One that isn’t directly in the manifesto but is very much worth mentioning:

Land value taxes are paid by landowners on the unimproved rental value of their land and considered to be the most economically efficient and fair way of collecting tax. 432 people own half of all private rural land. One man, for example, the Duke of Westminster, owns 133,199 acres, including 300 acres in central London. (Yes, the one that avoided paying £3,600,000,000,000 (yes £3.6 BILLION) in inheritance tax after his father died.) LVT would see

  1. a dramatic shift in property tax towards wealthy property owners, with most people getting a cut in taxes as LVT would be much less that the average person’s council or property tax- as it’s about land AMOUNT and USAGE.
  2. an encouragement for developers to bring vacant or undeveloped land into use to address Britain’s housing crisis.
  3. Land is in fixed supply, so taxing is does not make it more scarce.
  4. Land cannot be hidden or its size lied about as the Land Registry have every inch of people’s land on record by law.
  5. Such taxes cannot be passed on to tenants living on that land- their rents already include tax.
  6. Such taxes cannot be avoided and hidden in the Cayman Islands 😉

With house prices (and thus rents and mortgages) so artificially high this could bring much need levelling to taxes paid by over 80% of the country.

This might seem like an odd thing to go on about, but for me this is a vital part of redressing an imbalance that has existed since feudal times. The above mentioned (in the graphic) ‘Robin Hood tax’ does this too- there had been no rise on stamp duty (that again, the wealthy benefit from) in 322 years. For me, this shows Labour‘s deep seated and comprehensive commitment to actual social parity, and while it may be a little ‘out there’ for some, believe me us historians are rejoicing! 😉

***I had to break off from this blog for a day or so while I digested the 88 page enormity the Conservatives had released yesterday (18/05/17) but I’m back and raring to go!***

So, it is costed?

Yes, yes, 100 times yes.

Is Corbyn heading a party that’s ‘soft’ on defence’? NO. Here is page 120-1 of the manifesto verbatim.

defence 1 copy

defence 2 copy

Everything they said would do is in the manifesto. And not just in defence either as we can see from the summary of over 100 policies. From the cradle to the grave is back!

59035d392600003596c48460

‘For the many not the few’ indeed- brave and far reaching, and not afraid to make inroads into social injustices that have existed for centuries to do it.

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Liberal Democrats.

ge-2017

Also in ‘easy read’, audio, sign language and full formats, the Lib Dems have also gone all out to provide an manifesto that is fair for as many people as possible. Their focus (and they have changed their slogan, good thing too for as I said in part 1 of the election blogs, their 2015 one needed a bit of work) is to ‘change Britain’s future’.

Liberal-Democrat-ManifestoA lot of this as can be expected is about remaining in the EU. A super-summary looks like this:

2017-05-18_lib-dem-manifesto.png

Pages 9-11 go into this in some detail and their strategy to lessen the effect of B*exit is as similar and wide ranging as Labour‘s. (Below is an edit)

  • Protection of rights for EU citizens and UK citizens:

…unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK… overhaul and simplification of the registration process and the requirements for EU nationals to obtain permanent residence and UK citizenship, as the current system is not fit for purpose…secure the same rights for UK citizens living in European Union countries.

  • Membership of the single market and customs union
  • Freedom of movement:

…Any deal negotiated for the UK outside the EU must protect the right to work, travel, study and retire across the EU…

  • Opportunities for young people:

…young people are afforded the same opportunities their parents enjoyed to work, study and travel abroad..protect Erasmus+…

  • Defending social rights and equalities:

52 weeks’ maternity leave and rights to annual leave are currently based on EU law, and many of these rights have been upheld at the European Court of Justice… fight to ensure that these entitlements are not undermined.

  • Maintaining environmental standards:

The European Union has created the highest environmental standards in the world… protect our environment and tackle climate change… maintain those high standards in UK law, including the closest possible co-operation on climate and energy policy.

  • Law enforcement and judicial co-operation:

Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and shared access to police databases have helped make Britain’s streets safer…maximum co-operation to ensure criminals are pursued quickly and effectively… not frustrated by huge amounts of red tape.

  • British business and jobs:

…protect support for domestic industries such as farming, tourism and the creative industries, as well as regional support for deprived areas…

  • Science and research funding:

Research is vital for our long-term prosperity, security and wellbeing – but the Leave vote has already started to affect [this]…campaign against any reduction in investment in UK universities and for their right to apply for EU funds…

  • Travel and tourism:

…retain traveller and tourist benefits such as the European Health Insurance Card, reduced roaming charges and pet passports…

  • Respect for the interests of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland:

…priorities and long-term interests of the nations of the UK are fully taken into account during negotiations…oppose any moves that threaten the political stability of Northern Ireland…protect the rights of the people of Gibraltar.

key_farronspeech

All great stuff, and exactly what Labour want too, but in order to do this, they must repudiate any hint of going into coalition with the Conservatives again. They did not do this till the 22nd April, ruling out any coalition with any party.

Their approach to the NHS (page 15ff) is also for it to be better funded and this is a summary on how they proposed to fund and reform it:

  • Saving the NHS by putting a penny in the pound on Income Tax to give the NHS and social care services the cash injection they need. This will bring in £6billion, which will be ringfenced for use in the NHS only.
  • Transforming mental health care with waiting time standards and funds  to match those in physical health care.
  • Home not hospital: better integration of health and social care and limiting the amount elderly people have to pay for social care.

Like Labour they want to reverse Conservative school funding cuts and extend free meals to all pupils, and oppose grammar schools, but (page 30) while they wish to reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, they are not looking to stop tuition fees. Instead they will review higher education finance to consider any necessary reforms and make sure there is no more retrospective raising of rates, or selling-off of loans to private companies.

I guess this is predictable, being the centre ground that they do not go as far into social parity as Labour, without being ‘if you’re not in the 1%, go and dig your own grave’ that the Conservatives have put out this month.

Same goes for defence. All defence policies are dictated by us being in NATO so all the parties, whatever their personal view on Trident may be, will be similar. The issue is will they (looking at you Conservatives as you did NOT do this from 2015) will they keep their pledges?) Here are the Lib Dems’, and they have a commitment like Labour, to mental health provision, housing improvement (not seeing any wages declaration though.)

LD defence copy

Another prime example of being in the ‘centre ground’ is from pages 59-60 where they talk of benefits and rents:

So while they do want to

  1. Uprate working-age benefits at least in line with inflation
  2. Abolish the Conservatives’ ‘rape clause
  3. Reverse cuts to housing benefit for 18-21-year-olds and increase rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit for those aged 18-24, and reverse cuts to Employment Support Allowance.
  4. Increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in line with average rents in an area, ensuring that LHA is enough for a family to pay their housing and scrap the ‘bedroom tax’, while seeking to achieve the aim of making best use of the housing supply through incentivising local authorities to help tenants ‘downsize’.
  5. Scrap the discredited Work Capability Assessment and replace it with a new system, run by local authorities according to national rules, including a ‘real world’ test that is based on the local labour market.
  6. Withdraw eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment from pensioners who pay tax at the higher rate (40%) but will retain the free bus pass for all pensioners.
  7. Ensure that those using food banks are aware of their rights and how they can access hardship payments where relevant.
  8. (page 42) Stop abuse of zero-hours contracts, with a formal right to request a fixed contract and consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time. (Labour want full workers’ rights to start as a given from the first day of starting a job and to stop all new ZHCs as well as forcibly end nearly 2 million already in force, given to people who do not want them but have been forced into them by the DWP or desperate circumstances.)

which all sound good, but this is

  • not tackling the artificially high rents especially in the private sector
  • not doing anything about high Council tax rates except to charge 200% on empty second homes (page 61)
  • not acknowledging that there aren’t enough houses that are smaller for people to move into
  • and not tackling the lack of employment and poverty levels that make people have to use foodbanks in the first place.

They have costed all their plans, pledges and reforms, just like Labour, from which I would post but (19/05/17) the link is down, should it come back up I will add them here.

What’s this legalising cannabis one all about then?

As I said in part 3 of the election blogs:

“the Liberal Democrats have unveiled a manifesto pledge to let shops and social clubs sell cannabis – raising up to £1billion in tax. This would include a complete legalising of it; and allow it to be sold on the general market if they win the general election. The Conservatives still consider it ‘harmful’ and would never consider this policy. Labour‘s stance is to decriminalise medical marijuana and Holyrood voted strongly to do the same last year so SNP are on a similar line to Labour on this issue, and so did Ireland in February 2017. First considered by the Lib Dems in November last year, this now appears to be official for the general election.”

Page 76-7 of their manifesto goes into more detail, and all are good points. They acknowledge that the ‘war on drugs’ is misguided and has failed. Their measures are:

  1. End imprisonment for possession of illegal drugs for personal use, diverting those arrested for possession of drugs for personal use into treatment and education (adopting a health-based approach), or imposing civil penalties.
  2. Break the grip of the criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis. We would introduce limits on potency and permit cannabis to be sold through licensed outlets to adults over the age of 18.
  3. Concentrate on catching and prosecuting those who manufacture, import or deal in illegal drugs
  4. Repeal the Psychoactive Substances Act which has driven the sale of formerly legal highs underground.
  5. Move the departmental lead on drugs policy to the Department of Health.

Again, sounds good. But if the voting age is to be lowered to 16, so should this be. Cannabis can be either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for mental health (the ‘jury’ is still out, but as legal medicines have the same issues, then while more study is needed, the same quality controls can be applied to them as to cannabis) and more studies are being done (here’s one) to show its beneficial effects for chronic physical pain, even cancers, in certain modified forms, without many of the side effects that result from taking legal pharmaceutical drugs. So yes, legalise it, why not? At the least, for medical conditions.

******Like with sex work laws, the onus should be on suppliers that use unethical and illegal methods to generate a market, not on those who consume it and do not break theft, fraud or corruption laws to do so.******

And while there might be some who go overboard, we have the same issues with alcohol and nobody is suggesting that should be made illegal.

The Lib Dems aren’t suggesting a Cheech and Chong style free-for-all. 

So, at a glance we have nine main policy pushes:

1. Standing up for Britain’s place in Europe (including 2nd referendum once A50 has been finalised) yes please! We wouldn’t take on a job in our everyday lives that didn’t have a job description, would we, so why do it when it’s about the entire country?

 

2. Proper funding for our NHS and social care, spending 1p in the pound of Income Tax on NHS and social care services, prioritising mental health care and limiting care costs for the elderly.

3. Equality in educationinvesting an extra £7billion in education, by opposing new grammar schools, and by ensuring that per-pupil budgets grow if class sizes do.

4. A prosperous and fair economy-Capital investment aimed at stimulating growth across the UK and doubling innovation and research spending.

5. A green Britain: To protect the planet and boost the economy at the same time, and preventing 40,000 premature deaths a year by cutting air pollution and more than double the production of green electricity to 60% by 2030.

6. Standing up for families and communities: House-building target of 300,000 homes a year by 2022, extend free childcare to all two-year-olds, and reduce the price of bus travel for the 16- to 21-year-olds by two thirds.

7. Standing up for human rights and justice: Oppose any attempts to leave the European Convention on Human Rights and offer a sanctuary to 3000 unaccompanied refugee children by 2022.

8. An internationalist, progressive world, focusing on fighting the rising tides of nationalism and isolationism, and suspending arms sales to countries with poor human rights records. (Same as Labour and the Greens.)

9. A fair, open electoral system, giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in elections and referendums, and introduce proportional representation for Westminster and local elections. (same as Labour, SNP and the Greens, as many of these policies are.)

The feeling I get whilst reading their manifesto is “Wow, that sounds great! And they have a battle bus too…(seems to be the thing now)

Tim Farron Visits The Mary Rose School For Children With Special Needs

Oh, wait…Labour and the Greens want pretty much all of this too and have gone a lot further in their manifestos to ensure it happens.”

  1. No mention of a minimum or maximum wage (Labour‘s is £10 and hour and a 20:1 ratio from lowest to highest wage.)
  2. No mention of what they want taxes to be. While on page 39 they do say they will reverse many of the  Conservatives’  tax cuts, such as: Corporation Tax from 20% to 17%, Capital Gains Tax cuts and extended relief, The Marriage Allowance and the raising of the Inheritance Tax threshold they do not say what they are going to do instead.
  3. No mention of rent controls, fairer rents and house price legislation
  4. No mention of a social care price cap or energy bill cap. Instead they have gone for (page 15) lowering costs by having the elderly cared for in their own homes, and for energy a ‘green’ approach, which again is great, but what do people do in the meantime? (From page 49: “…improving home insulation and encouraging small-scale, community and local-authority renewable schemes… make saving energy a top infrastructure priority, slashing energy bills and carbon emissions, creating thousands of jobs and helping end the fuel poverty crisis once and for all.”

manifesto-vote-image-1024x538

So if you want a more cautious, more in the line with the current status quo approach, then the Lib Dems are the party for you.

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