A soon-to-be renationalised high speed train. Photo: Pixabay/Meditations  A soon-to-be renationalised high speed train. Photo: Pixabay/Meditations

Popular policies take centre stage and Labour forward with one serious misstep, writes Lindsey German

The leaked Labour manifesto is causing outrage from Tories and the media. Scrapping university tuition fees, public ownership of railways, increasing tax for top earners, extending collective bargaining and trade union rights. Sounds all good to me. At the very least, no one can say this isn’t a clear choice between a nasty, privatising party whose cabinet is stuffed full of millionaires, and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour which is trying to reverse unpopular policies or introduce new and more egalitarian ones. I think a lot of this will be attractive to a lot of people.

Far from it being a recipe for chaos, the chaos and dysfunction is already there with privatisation, with forcing universities to become degree factories, and obscene levels of inequality where the rich are getting away with holding down the living standards of the poor. Let’s have a serious debate about this and what will be the future of our public services, not the lack of accountability which has marked Empress Theresa’s election campaign so far.

I’m disappointed that the proposed manifesto contains a commitment to Trident. It also says troops will only be used when all other avenues have been exhausted. This has been derided by First Strike Fallon as pacifism. A pity previous governments didn’t follow this principle as we’d be a lot better off. 

Why the media wants to accentuate the negative

The claim by the consistently unimpressive Lib Dem leader Tim Farron that he provides the only opposition to the Tories, is perhaps one of the biggest jokes of this campaign. Farron claims he is a progressive but has repeatedly spent his time attacking Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, refused to go into alliance with Labour but says he would with the Tories – as the Lib Dems did from 2010 to 2015 – and faces very different ways depending on his audience.

It is blindingly obvious to anyone that Farron is not a serious opposition to the Tories or to anyone else and that his party has not recovered from its electoral drubbing back in 2015, largely as a result of supporting Tory policies while in coalition. Yet he is allowed to repeat this ludicrous claim throughout the media, most recently on yesterday’s Today programme.

Any honest assessment of the balance of forces in this election would show that Labour is around 3 times the strength of the Lib Dems in the polls and will be returning incomparably more MPs than them or any other opposition party. So is it just journalistic laziness that allows these statements to go unchallenged? Not really.

The narrative of so much of the media is to go along with the whole idea of a ‘coalition of chaos’ which will take place if Empress Theresa doesn’t get her coronation. In fact, Corbyn’s Labour has provided serious opposition on a range of issues in parliament and is putting clear red water between itself and the Tories (something previous Labour leaders have failed to do). He has also forced the Tories to U-turn on many issues. But this doesn’t fit with the narrative that Corbyn is incompetent and unelectable.

This, in turn, is of a piece with the overall media approach which is to exaggerate problems in Labour’s campaign and minimise them in those of the other parties, especially the Tories. A Tory does a duff interview and it is pretty much ignored, Labour does one and it’s national news. Nick Ferrari seems to be specialising in trying to catch women Labour interviewees out (my advice would be to not give him the opportunity). While there are countless examples of negative attitudes towards Jeremy Corbyn, any enthusiasm for him is dismissed as cultish behaviour or preaching to the converted.

The cost of everything and the value of nothing

I’m getting a little fed up with the obsession with costing, figures and demanding that Labour signs in blood for every policy. Yes, there needs to be some idea of what things will cost but the constant ‘where will the money come from’, or even worse as in the case of Angela Rayner on Nick Ferrari, how many children will be affected by the change in class sizes, is in many ways a red herring.

The media and the Tories are the people who constantly talk about more defence spending without saying where the money will come from, who are looking to spend £4 billion on refurbishing parliament, not to mention the minor matter of the £850bn bailing out the banks after 2008. The money’s there, it is a question of what people want to spend it on. Education might be a good place to start.

Someone must have done something wrong

The, in my view totally predictable, CPS announcement today has been used by the Tories to say, in the most aggressive manner, declaring that they have done nothing wrong. Election fraud is unproven. The argument seems to be that since local candidates and agents submitted their accounts in good faith without declaring battle bus expenses, they had no criminal intent.

They did so, by their own admission, because Tory central office told them this did not count to local election spending. If we take this on face value though, it means surely that the national Tory central office has a case to answer. Or, in the blunt words of SNP Alex Salmond on C4 News, David Cameron bought the 2015 election. Cameron’s gone, but the same man who ran that election campaign is now running this one for the Tories.

Does Sir Lynton Crosby have no questions to answer?

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.