Three quick points about the Labour manifesto

by Kevin Meagher

You campaign in poetry…

Today we’re talking about Labour’s radical plans to scrap tuition fees, nationalise industries deemed to have failed the public, spend more on public services and raise the living wage – while making the dastardly rich pay for it all.

We’re not talking about Brexit and we’re not talking about how Labour wants to scrap nuclear weapons. Or, actually, about Jeremy Corbyn.  This is a tactical victory, of sorts.

Is the manifesto wise or workable? Hmmm. Do the individual measures resonate with voters? Yes. Is Labour credible when it explains how they will be funded? No. But the manifesto peps-up Labour activists who now have meaty, simply-understood things to talk about on the doorstep, other than the merits or demerits of their leader.

The sums don’t add up. Who cares?

Labour has a £57 billion ‘black hole’ in its spending plans, splutter the Conservatives, totting-up Labour’s great Monopoly grab of utilities.

Theresa May and Philip Hammond even called a presser so they could stand there and intone about the Cost of Labour. Stood behind their podiums this morning they looked like the lamest Kraftwerk tribute act ever, or a couple of mismatched contestants on Pointless, with Theresa May fluffing a question about whether she still has confidence in Hammond. (‘Well, we’ve known each other a long time…’)

For weary voters, it boils down to one group of politicians they don’t trust claiming the sums of the other group of politicians they don’t trust don’t add up.

At this stage, nothing matters

Election campaigns don’t fundamentally alter voters’ choices. Nothing that happens is either a dramatic success or failure. You cannot rub out months or years’ worth gradually constructed opinions in a few weeks. Labour famously ‘won’ the 1987 election campaign but lost the election. Ed Miliband had a really good campaign back in 2015. His performance was probably the highpoint of his five year leadership. But, by then, the public had weighed and measured him and found him wanting. Alas, Jeremy Corbyn’s numbers tell the same story.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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10 Responses to “Three quick points about the Labour manifesto”

  1. buttley says:

    …”Election campaigns don’t fundamentally alter voters’ choices”

    maybe not, but unusually this time, there is actually a choice on offer, a novelty in itself.

    …”Nothing that happens is either a dramatic success or failure”

    This is one for you to remind yourself of, when you’re doing your post election analysis.

    …”You cannot rub out months or years’ worth gradually constructed opinions in a few weeks”

    Wasn’t this the charge laid at Corbyn’s door over the referendum?

    Or maybe it is Kevin’s coded way of arguing that Corbyn should remain on after the election, in order to allow this new manifesto to solidify in the mind of the voter, gradually constructing opinion in its favour?

    …”Ed Miliband had a really good campaign back in 2015″

    Ignoring the Ed stone & Paxman, & the vanilla offering to the electorate, & losing, aside from those few issues, yeah he did great.

  2. Ex Labour says:

    The manifesto pledges sound great to the Labour faithful, but to the country at large all they hear is tax and spend. The sums do not add up if you look at the spending commitments and how much tax they think they can raise. Just taking industries like energy, mail, train companies back into public ownership will cost billions.

    The usual and predictable attack on business and the higher earners fails to realise that the so called 1% generate nearly 30% of income tax revenues and businesses still provide massive tax revenues.

    What happens to the precious NHS and schools when the businesses relocate, labour supporters are made redundant and the wealthy go offshore instead of paying up ?

    Not such a smart move then is it ?

  3. Tafia says:

    There are only three choices in this election here on the mainland.

    Brexit to go ahead deal or no deal – Tory
    Brexit to go ahead but not without a deal over the SM – Labour
    Second Referendum(to attempt to reverse it) Lib Dem/Plaid/SNP.

    Every thing else is faff, flannel and bollocks. The electorate at large knows it and is lining up accordingly.

  4. KEVIN MEAGHER says:

    Buttley – take the point about the edstone – all campaigns have bum notes – but Miliband’s personal performance was much better than remembered. He was pleasant, relaxed and fluent.

    His problem is that he never shook off the charge he ‘shafted his own brother’. His leadership was over in the first week it began. Same, alas, for Jeremy. 30 years of baggage and a stubborn refusal to play by the essential rules of British politics (trying to win over the highest number of voters) means that whatever he does or promises is too late.

  5. Tafia says:

    As an aside, latest from Aberdeen council

    Scottish Labour have suspended the Aberdeen Labour Group of 9 councillors for going into coalition with Tories. So no Labour councillors in Aberdeen.

  6. Tafia says:

    And another bit of fun from Scottish councils – the Labour-SNP coalition in Edinburgh is on hold till after GE because Ian Murray Labour MP for Edinburgh South needs Tory votes to keep his seat and no Tory will switch to Labour if they are seen to be in cahoots with the SNP at any level.

  7. Tafia says:

    Background to Aberdeen

    1. A signed coalition agreement Labour/Tory/Ind was lodged with the council
    2. Scottish Labour leadership then said all Labour councillors had until 5pm this evening to pull out of deal with Tories or be suspended.
    3. A LibDem councillor also ‘stood aside’ from LibDems to go independent to in order to join coalition in a forlorn attempt to forge a majority.

    Coalition of chaos rings a bell.

  8. madasafish says:

    I trust no politician to carry out their election promises. They may or may not depending on “events” , how keen they are to actually carry them out, reality etc..
    This world weary attitude comes after a baptism from H Wilson on “the pound in my pocket” being worth the same after devaluation in the 1960s and ending up with D Cameron’s promise to cut immigration to “tens of thousands ” in the 2010s.

    All I know is that the Tories try at times to be competent and run finances with some control. Yes they fail but they try.

    At present Labour are in Opposition. Far easier than running a Government.. No nasty decisions to make. Plenty of time to think through policies and brief Shadow Cabinet of the key points. The trouble is : they are not very good at it.

    If Labour cannot run a semi competent Opposition they how can they be expected to run a semi competent Government? It is much harder.

    As for Labour’s manifesto sums, they assume that the rich and businesses will stand idly by and just lie down and do nothing as taxes are raised. As Ex Labour points out, this is exactly what they will NOT do. They will do whatever is needed to avoid legally paying more taxes. SO if that means moving offshore they will.

    So an incompetent Opposition are basing huge increases in spending on big increases in taxation revenues which are likely not to be realised. All espoused by people with minimal economic credibility – just see the polls about that where Labour lag abysmally..

    But then Corbyn and Co don’t want to run a Government : just convert Labour to a far Left organisation to support Stop The War and other pet projects, Their attitude to the manifesto shows that. If they were serious they would have – as J McDonnell claimed – prepared it months ago. It is clearly new…. and being amended as they go..Fully costed – and then added to.

    Voters are not fools. The Labour Party deserves to lose badly and undergo the same kind of changes that Kinnock, Smith and Blair made to make it electable. That will take another generation to achieve.

  9. buttley says:

    …”all campaigns have bum notes,”

    Bum note, is way too generous for the Ed stone.

    It was a self inflicted wound, it wasn’t forced.

    6 vacuous pledges, to stand as a historical reminder of Labour’s aspiration to do nothing.

    “An NHS with time to care” i mean, really? really?

    Then, the Lucy Powell interview reneging on them, beyond farce.

    So at a time, when the narrative, was supposedly all about austerity, the economy & responsible management of it.

    Labour squandered a minimum of 7.5k on this.

    Post election, Iain McNicol received a 20k fine for not declaring the Ed stone properly under election spending.

    To what end?

    What rational person, would not have seen this as anything other than a cynical publicity gimmick, that deserved nothing but the contempt from which it was conceived?

    You call it a bum note & dismiss it, i think it went to the core of the last campaign.

    …”Personal performance was much better than remembered.”

    Re-watch some of these leadership videos, if you can be arsed.

    Was the personal performance better or worse than you remembered?

    Personally, I felt much the same, as when i watched them the first time around.

    …”the essential rules of British politics (trying to win over the highest number of voters)”

    If Labour under Corbyn, were to poll say 11 million or more votes nationally this time around, & still lose.

    How should we interpret that, as progress or regress?

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  10. John P Reid says:

    Serious question Is anyone else voting labour, because they live in a seat they know labour will win anyway, or in a seat they know labour can’t win in a million years, so they’re voting labour despite not agreeing with the it won’t affect the result

    I am

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