Jeremy Corbyn speaking in Kilburn, August 2016. Photo: Jim Aindow Jeremy Corbyn speaking in Kilburn, August 2016. Photo: Jim Aindow

Looking at some of the highlight’s of Labour’s election manifesto, Shabbir Lakha argues that it sets a clear alternative to the Tories

Labour has now launched its manifesto. It’s mostly been unsurprising, because unlike Theresa May’s bland and vague campaign, Jeremy Corbyn has been putting forward a lot of the policies, now in the manifesto, since the election was announced. There was also the leak of the draft last week, which was received overwhelmingly positively by the general public.

Ideologically speaking, the policies in Labour’s manifesto are not as radical as the media and the Tories make them out to be. They are not much more to the left of mainstream Nordic social democracy. But in Britain, our political spectrum has been shifted so far to the right, thanks to the neoliberal centre dominating for several decades and the mainstream left constantly conceding ground, that Labour’s manifesto is in fact a radical, transformative programme.

Fiscal stimulus and wealth redistribution

Introducing a 45% tax rate on the richest 5% of earners, a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on financial transactions, increasing corporation tax for companies with the biggest profits, and clamping down on tax evasion and avoidance opens up a huge amount of money that can be injected into our economy for investment in infrastructure, public services and welfare.

At the same time, raising the minimum wage, scrapping the 1% public sector pay cap and introducing a 20:1 pay cap to curb boardroom excesses will work to make the income inequality gap smaller. Both sets of measures are also good news for small and medium businesses that will be put on a fairer playing field as transnational companies who currently undercut the market.

Labour has also pledged to borrow £500 billion at currently low interest rates for a National Transformation Fund and National Investment Bank that will be pumped directly into infrastructure and into local communities and businesses. Alongside pledging to cut the deficit on day-to-day spending and renationalising industries/favouring public sector procurement, this is the most sensible way to grow the economy’s productive capacity while reducing both the debt and deficit in a more balanced and sustainable way.

Scrapping tuition fees

In 2010, Nick Clegg promised he would oppose plans to raise higher education tuition fees. He instead signed up to a coalition with the Tories, trebled tuition fees and cut the Education Maintenance Allowance – which paved the way for the Tories cutting maintenance grants in higher education and bursaries for nurses. Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to undo this completely.

A Brexit for the many

Labour has guaranteed the rights of all EU nationals living in the UK, something the Tories have been adamant not to do. They will drop the Great Repeal Bill which the Tories were planning to use as a carte blanche to pass laws as they saw fit without Parliamentary approval, and instead introduce the EU Rights and Protections Bill which will ensure workers, consumers and environmental protections currently under EU law are not lost.


Refugees are not migrants. They have been forced from their homes, by war, famine or other disasters. Unlike the Tories, we will uphold the proud British tradition of honouring the spirit of international law and our moral obligations by taking our fair share of refugees. The current arrangements for housing and dispersing refugees are not fit for purpose. They are not fair to refugees or to our communities.

Curbing the Housing Crisis

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged that a Labour government will build at least 100,000 affordable houses a year.

Unlike the Tories who blocked an amendment to the Housing Bill that required private landlords to ensure housing was fit for human habitation, Labour will review the current ‘minimum’ standards of quality for housing. They will also enforce an inflation cap on rent rises, restore housing benefit for 18-21 year olds, scrap the bedroom tax and suspend the right to buy scheme.

Saving our NHS

Labour’s manifesto puts to rest any doubt that the future of the NHS can only be protected by a Corbyn-led Labour government. There will be an extra £6 billion a year put into the NHS which will plug the funding gap that has led to crisis; the Health and Social Care Act responsible for increasing privatisation in the NHS will be repealed and Sustainability and Transformation Plans that have wasted the already not enough funding on unnecessary restructuring and middle management and plan to close numerous health services will be halted.

There will also be £3 billion a year that will be invested in a new Social Care programme, one of the areas the Tories have gutted and in this election have tried to pawn off not putting funds back into it by offering a year of unpaid leave for people who need to take care of family members.

Foreign policy

While not as audacious as most of the manifesto, the foreign policy outlined in the manifesto is perhaps the most discernable aspect from Theresa May’s government. The negatives include the commitment to spend 2% of GDP on the military and renewing Trident, but some of the positives are:

  • To create a Minister for Peace and Disarmament
  • To not blindly uphold a special relationship with Trump
  • To recognise the state of Palestine; oppose the blockade of Gaza, occupation of Palestinian territories and illegal settlements; and press for meaningful peace negotiations
  • To work to deescalate tensions in the Korean peninsula
  • To support the right of return for Chagossians
  • To implement the Arms Trade Treaty and cease arms sales to countries where there is concern of violation of international humanitarian law
  • To demand a comprehensive, UN-led investigation into Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and will cease arms sales to them until concluded

Reimagining society

There are detailed commitments on fighting inequality in terms of the gender pay gap, LGBT rights and institutional racism affecting BAME communities; making our economy greener, increasing worker’s rights and democratic rights (including lowering the voting age to 16), and a comprehensive set of policies aimed at increasing living standards in all areas.

All in all, it is a great manifesto that has the labour movement at its core and is for the benefit of the vast majority of people in the country. It is something we can all really get behind and use to drive the arguments not only for voting Labour on June 8th but also for breaking from conventional politics of settling for the least worst option and to start imagining the kind of society we would all like to live in.


Shabbir Lakha

Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.