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Labour's suicidal wish list has one thing going for it

Labour's suicidal wish list has one thing going for it

by Gavin Lumsden May 12, 2017 at 13:36

The main achievement of Labour’s bulging, left-wing manifesto could be to kick start a debate over public spending, even if it guarantees the party another term in opposition.

Media commentators have had a field day, deriding the leaked 45-page document as an unaffordable wish-list that ensures Labour’s defeat in the general election on 8 June.

Under a Times headline ‘Labour’s ticket to the Dignitas clinic’, Philip Collins, former chief speech writer for Tony Blair, said ‘the manifesto is full of things that will be banned, compulsory or free but offers no credible way of paying for them.’

The Daily Mail said Labour would commit Britain to a £650 billion decade-long spending spree it claimed would cost each household £2,400 a year.

Julian Jessop of the Institute of Economic Affairs told the paper it would result in ‘economic disaster’, adding: 'Enormous tax hikes on business and the so-called “rich” will discourage innovation and investment, harming much-needed economic growth.'

The Financial Times also weighed in saying Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that the manifesto was fully funded did not stand up to scrutiny.

‘It has promised to raise taxes for the top 5% of earners but it has not said by how much. Corporation tax would be lifted substantially. But neither of these measures would begin to fund the spending spree that Mr Corbyn intends to embark on. The abolition of university tuition fees would cost £8 billion a year alone, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and increase the deficit by more.’

Labour MPs outside the Corbyn camp were also unimpressed by the 20,000 word document the party’s leadership had produced. Ben Bradshaw, Labour candidate for Exeter, is reported in the Telegraph saying: ‘Let’s get real...it’s the Tory manifesto people need to be focusing on, seeing what they’ll do in government and we Labour MPs are trying to save as many good Labour MPs as possible.’

Yet Labour’s manifesto may have a longer after life than all this scorn would suggest. Theresa May has already stolen former Labour leader Ed Miliband’s 2013 proposal to cap energy prices. She may find rich pickings in future from the Opposition’s list of policies, which according to a ComRes poll in the Daily Mirror today resonate with voters, even if Corbyn himself does not.

The ComRes online survey of 1,000 adults found 52% backed renationalising the railways with state intervention in the energy market and restoring the Royal Mail to public ownership respectively receiving the support of 52% and 50%.

Labour’s most popular polices are banning zero hours contracts with 71% in favour and 60% of Conservative supporters also expressing approval. Raising income tax on those earning more than £80,000 a year was backed by 65%, with the measure again finding strong support among Tory voters.

But while Labour scores higher on health and education, it rates well below the Conservatives on crime, defence and – not surprisingly given the huge expense of its pledges – economic competence.

The potential cost of Labour’s policies is indeed eye-watering. The pledge to scrap planned rises to the state pension age – another policy that did well in the ComRes poll – would alone cost £300 billion over the next 30 years, according to pension provider Royal London.

Steve Webb, the former LibDem pension minister now Royal London’s policy director, said: ‘As we live longer, it is inevitable that state pension ages will have to rise, as they are around the developed world. It is unrealistic to suppose that as a nation we can afford to ignore the fact that we are all living longer'.

Ros Altmann, who succeeded Webb as pension minister after the 2015 election, said she 'could not believe' Labour meant to scrap the planned rises without also raising national insurance contributions.

Labour has provoked consternation and bemusement with its nostalgia for the historic state interventions of the 1940s. While this can be dismissed as out of touch, according to the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies the role of the state in meeting our most pressing policy issues lies at the core of the choice facing voters in the election.

In a new report looking at the long-term pressures on public spending the IFS forecasts that the growth and ageing of the population and technological changes will require an additional £100 billion of annual spending in 50 years’ time.

Rowena Crawford, an associate director of the IFS, said: ‘We face a big choice: do we increase the size of the state? Do we rein in spending on health, long-term care and state pensions? Or do we continue to refocus the diminishing share of national income devoted to other areas towards health, pensions and care?

‘These pressures and this choice are not new. What would be new would be a serious attempt to address these issues in a coherent and systematic fashion.’

Labour’s outlandish and unrealistic manifesto should perhaps be seen more positively in this context.

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Comments  (27)

  • jon smith: 

    this is a 'the singer, not the song' election.corbyn is tone deaf and may is a tuneless karaoke turn.what is a poor voter to do?its obvious that every conservative vote is a nail in the hand of a crucified nhs ((' no nhs reorganisation'-lansley-so we get one,hunt presents 'alternative facts' about 7 day study-even the author indicated a malicious misrepresentation etc etc. labour espousing marxism,? everyone slags lib dems(how much worse would cameron and osbourne's attack on the poor have been if they hadnt been there? strong and stable v for everyone, not the few! whats a poor voter to do? may is grey,corbyn is limp the country will suffer with either.while there are voters who believe gordon brown was responsible for the global crash we hvent got a cat in hells chance of electing a government that works for us all. put me down as one who loves his fellow people

    08:52 on 13 May 2017

  • William Phillips: 

    Attacks on policies for turning the clock back are otiose. The Conservatives did that when they privatised railways and other state industries. Laisser-faire is a 19th century superstition- not that Victorian politicians ever ceased to exercise tight central surveillance over where railways were built and what they charged

    Instead of being bewitched by the calendar or by the dogma of deskbound academic theorists, why not look empirically at each business and ask how best it can be operated to optimise the public interest? Nobody in the real world believes in the binary contrast of 'free' markets, which are always more or or less rigged, and 'state control' which is mitigated by the selfishness of those who run the business, be they farmed-out entrepreneurs or civil so-called servants.

    Haven't we learned after centuries of experimenting with every model of ownership and control under the sun that the outcome in the real world is always a set of messy, unideological compromises, pretences and rackets. Outcomes owe everything to the eternal trial of strength between producers and consumers and nothing to some a-priori notion of what's up to date. The world is painted in shades of grey and always will be.

    Britain's partisan squabbles are irrelevant to deep trends in economics- such as the rise of the Far East and robotics- which all myopic career politicians ignore until it's too late. Compared with the upheavals to come from these forces, arguing about how far in or out of the EU we should be, or whether to cap electricity bills for a year or two, is like debating how many angels can dance on a pinhead.

    The pinheads in this case are to be found in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster. Politics is about suppressing discussion of important questions beyond the grasp of politicians. It is diverted to picayune matters where they can give the illusion of being in command of the situation. MPs are pygmies cavorting and sparring on the lip of a volcano.

    11:02 on 13 May 2017

  • Cojo 2004: 

    Ed Miliband (wot a plonka) introduced the £3 Labour Party Membership Fee. Many anti Labour Party folk chipped in the three quid, joined the Party and voted for Jeremy Corbyn as leader, and once he got his feet under the table he stayed there with the support of Unite etc. If Mrs May wins the coming election will the Tories refund my £3 ?

    11:11 on 13 May 2017

  • Duncan McFarlane: 

    What a clueless and incoherent, self-contradictory piece this is. Clearly one of the herd who goes along with whatever the media concensus is.

    It calls the manifesto a "suicide note" and a "wish list" then says the tories will get future policies from it - and even notes they're doing so in this election with policies from previous Labour manifestos that they denounced as "Marxist" and "unrealistic" at the time.

    Now how can it be a terrible manifesto full of unrealistic and unworkable policies and at the same time those policies can be adopted by credible policies by another party? Unless you are operating on 1984 style double-think, those two claims are mutually exclusive. So this comment piece is operating on 1984 style double- think and going along with the recieved wisdom, not on any kind of rational analysis.

    You do know Gav Lumsden that annual UK public spending is about £700 billion a year, and that New Labour governments (including Ben Bradshaw as a minister) and Conservative ones issued £450 billion in Quantitative Easing Money to the banks between 2007 and the end of 2016? Where are your articles denouncing this as crazy and unrealistic? Where were your articles warning that deregulation would lead to fraud and a massive banking crisis? (Professor Steve Keen for instance was warning exactly that - the media? silence - and all focused since on public spending, not the complete lack of re-regulation of the banks - buying the tories' nonsense about the crisis and dbet having been caused by "over-spending" when Labour spent less as a % of GDP than Thatcher).

    Again, no consistency, just going along with the herd opinion by the looks of it.

    Sheepish, poorly informed and self-contradictory comment pieces going along with the herd should perhaps be seen more negatively in this context

    14:17 on 13 May 2017

  • JohnR: 

    The outcome in the real world is always a conflation of self interest, power, privilege and greed by the movers and shakers. A human condition, accompanied by the inevitable corruption it fosters.

    That volcano... the mountain of national debt that doubled in five years under the 'economy is safe in our hands' party with privatisation handouts, corporate welfare and free passes to crooked bankers along the way.

    All while simultaneously employing friends in private enterprise to impose lucrative cuts with systematic beat downs and killing of the least fortunate and most vulnerable in society, financially at the very least and physically in dozens of documented cases. We're all in this together, well those that matter are... allegedly.

    Still, with the result of the referendum to award an extra £350M a week to the NHS now in and post election privatisation of the NHS, already well under way, likely to complete, it's blue skies as far as the eye can see.

    Good times ahead.

    12:30 on 14 May 2017

  • anglo29: 

    My recollection of the original quote re. the £350 million that we currently pay weekly into the EU coffers, was that when we finally exit the EU (probably not for another two years at least) then that £350 would be freed up to be allocated to home interests, including the NHS. At no time do I recall anyone promising to spend the whole lot on the NHS and nothing else.

    It seems LibDem and Labour "remoaners" are simply twisting words around to suit their own ends, even ignoring the fact that we're committed to paying this amount to the EU for a considerable time yet.

    15:34 on 14 May 2017

  • JohnR: 

    Kippers squirming, backsliding, wriggling, call it what you will.

    'Let's give our NHS the £350M a week the EU takes'

    That's about as direct as politics gets.

    As for kippers incapacity to comprehend there won't be an extra £350M a week, to spend on anything, the less said the better.

    17:42 on 14 May 2017

  • richard tomkin: 

    Corbyn might as well go for broke : why be hanged for a lamb when there are sheep going?

    22:28 on 14 May 2017

  • Micawber: 

    @William Phillips: an excellent intervention!

    09:29 on 15 May 2017

  • martin verlaine: 

    Cojo is correct the source of Corbyn's power base is the daft voting policy changes introduced by Ed ( with the benefit of hindsight) Milliband. Unfortunately, moderate labour voters do not stand up until the bitter end ( defeat of Militant etc) and then when they are lead to the cause. We have not reached that state. Left wing policies are fine provided the unintended consequences which seem to dog them are thought through before they are released as sound bites to appeal to the uninformed.

    Until the moderates have the gumption to stand up and be counted and Corbyn is returned to the back benches along with the hideously incompetent Diane Abbott and daft as a bag of brazil nuts, Macdonald , there will be no credible opposition.

    Why would the Tories not go to the country and ask for a mandate when the opposition is so deflated they are struggling to find any reason why the Tory majority will not be at least 100?

    15:14 on 15 May 2017

  • anglo29: 

    Why the more moderate Labour MP's have not mounted a leadership challenge is a mystery....can it be they are content with a leader stuck in the Students Union politics of the 60's.....aided by a wannabee Home Secretary who, judging by her radio interview with Nick Ferrari, doesn't even have a grip on basic arithmetic.

    21:22 on 15 May 2017

  • Duncan McFarlane: 

    @martin veraline - So when New Labour get the One Member One Vote system they've been demanding for decades, and it doesn't result in another New Labour clone elected party leader they immediately shout "too much democracy, let's go back to letting MPs and trade union leaders decide, sod party members", like Tom Watson MP has already.

    Can you explain what was sensible, moderate or right about the Iraq war? Or about continuing the tory policy of deregulation that led to British banks being allowed to buy up American banks involved in the trade in fraudulent 'Collateralised Debt Obligations'? You know, that led to the banking crisis that lost Labour power and voters' trust on the economy? Or what's sensible about PFIs that result in sub-standard schools and hospitals (half the walls collapsed on those built in Scotland within a decade) - that result in higher costs to taxpayers but for hospitals and schools with less fully trained staff than those they replace because of the exorbitant PFI payments?

    None of these were left wing policies - they were all tory policies adopted from the tories by New Labour. Short term lazy careerist attitudes of "just adopt tory policies, easiest way" and zero concern for the disastrous results for not just the party but the people of the entire country in the long run.

    And you want them back? And think scrapping any kind of democracy in the Labour party is the way to go about it?

    23:18 on 15 May 2017

  • Duncan McFarlane: 

    Diane Abbott, granted, is definitely not front bench material - but all the New Labour crowd had stabbed the party leader voted for democratically twice by a large majority of Labour party members in the back - again - leaving Corbyn with few options for shadow cabinet appointments.

    23:20 on 15 May 2017

  • Denis Parkinson: 

    Lack of regulation by Gordon Brown (Labour Party) led to the banking crisis, all regulation flows through politicians, parliament etc. Could it just be, that Corbyn, who appeared to support the IRA at the expense of ex British servicemen, appears to support Marxism policy's etc. re nationalisation, says he would never, ever use a "Nuclear deterrent" could be right, I personally don,t think so. Unfortunately Jeremy Corbyn is dogmatic, and the Labour party is currently incapable of providing decent opposition to the government. Bring on the election, then whatever is left of the Labour party may bring some opposition to bear at some future time.

    01:07 on 16 May 2017

  • jon smith: 

    another attempt to blame gordon brown for the GLOBAL financial crisis which,following the logic, didnt happen elsewhere in countries that had greater regulation of banks and was greater in countries that had less regulation? my mother used two word in her crusade to help my critical thinking....... twaddle and piffle ......... his response as a finance minister during the crisis was lauded across theworld! but lets not let the facts get in the way of cynical,oft-repeated, predjudice eh!

    09:13 on 16 May 2017

  • JohnR: 

    It's just central office lies and propaganda, much like the blame game for deficit and debt levels. It seems to work a treat on certain types, namely those who believe what they want to believe and are impervious to any and all facts to the contrary.

    The seeds of the banking crisis were sown in the 70's under Heath, much like the housing and welfare crisis were born in the 80's under the Goddess.

    09:37 on 16 May 2017

  • Cojo 2004: 

    Who saw the crash coming ? Labour no, Tories no, Liberals no, Bank of England no,the Treasury no,the Banks the British Press no, the EU no

    Me no and Diane Abbott definitely not.

    Don't forget folks "No more boom and bust"

    11:18 on 16 May 2017

  • William Phillips: 

    jon smith- "his response as a finance minister during the crisis was lauded across the world"

    Alistair Darling was Chancellor by then. Brown had raided and ruined Britain's enviable funded private pensions, sold gold at the bottom and purported to have abolished the economic cycle- like a basement inventor claiming to have achieved perpetual motion.

    John R- I agree that the rake's-progress expansion of credit and the debauching of the currency has been a bipartisan crime since Heath's day, when (dizzy with the success of scrapping retail price maintenance under Macmillan) the Grocer tried to liberalise borrowing. The result was 'Competition and Credit Control' and the now-forgotten secondary banking crisis, hyperinflation in the mid-1970s- albeit in the wake of the Yom Kippur War- and the irretrievable wrecking of national finances.

    It was an extraordinarily reckless 'dash for growth' to have undertaken in the unstable world created by Nixon taking the dollar off gold the year Heath was elected. Worse, Heath entrusted the task to the feeblest Chancellor of modern times, his lapdog Antony Barber. The Grocer had unexpectedly won with a thin majority in 1970. Barber's assignment, like the atrocious Maudling's in 1963, was to make the British feel well off enough to keep the Tories in power, no matter what the longer-term damage. Both failed.

    Keith Joseph looked back at the period and bizarrely concluded that Heath's big mistake was not letting debt rip but his occasional interventions to save strategic industries such as Rolls-Royce. That led on to Mrs T and her obsession with the quantity of money as the sovereign remedy for our ills. It is the mark of economic tyros to cling to one guru. Hers was Milton Friedman.

    Like federasts in Brussels whose answer to every problem is 'more EU'. Joseph, Alfred Sherman et al. thought 'free' markets were the panacea. Adam Smith would have smiled wryly. Their naivety eventually led to Big Bang and the exaltation of financial swindlers as the unpunishable demigods of the British economy.

    12:21 on 16 May 2017

  • Duncan McFarlane: 

    @cojo2004 Several economists who didn't follow the herd predicted the banking crisis in advance - like Professor Steve Keen - the ones who looked at economic history and not blind faith in theories that ignored economic history

    13:48 on 16 May 2017

  • Duncan McFarlane: 

    Brown was partly to blame for the banking crisis - he continued the deregulation that Thatcher began in her 1986 'Big Bang' deregulation of the City of London, and that Major had continued after her. He re-named it "light touch regulation" but basically the same policy.

    Even Nigel Lawson, Thatcher's Chancellor in 1986, admitted in a BBC Radio 4 interview that Thatchers deregulation contributed to causing the banking crisis.

    And in opposition the tories were not calling for more regulation but less - "too much red tape and bureaucracy" they said all the time. Since they got back into government - for 7 years now - they have done nothing to reregulate the financial sector properly , not even a "Glass-Steagall" type act to ban high street savings banks from also being high risk trade "investment" banks.

    Nixon, Reagan, Bush senior, Clinton and Bush junior were all to blame too. Every government on both sides of the Atlantic from the late 70s on removed another piece of the regulation brought in after the Great Depression to prevent another banking crisis like that in the US in the 1920s - predictable result was another bubble based on fraud and another crisis.

    13:53 on 16 May 2017

  • Duncan McFarlane: 

    And as for it being "global" - no it wasn't - countries like Norway and Canada that had had banking crises in the past and regulated their banks properly did not suffer any banking crisis in 2007/8 or since. They only suffered a little in reduced trade due to the recession caused by the banking crisis in the countries they traded with which had not regulated their banks properly

    13:55 on 16 May 2017

  • richard tomkin: 

    @ McFarlane : How is it possible to predict anything other than in advance,

    or "going forward",as we must now say ? That is what to predict means,no?

    13:55 on 16 May 2017

  • jon smith: 

    left out 'ex'minister-the plaudits still stand---see you chose only 2 examples-both major economies? however there was a global crisis , or were you away on holiday?

    18:52 on 16 May 2017

  • In the Dark: 

    The Labour party are excellent in opposition, let's just keep it that way. Brexit is the path and the focus.

    TM for PM.

    11:53 on 07 June 2017

  • Cojo 2004: 

    It looks likely that Mrs. May will win and if she has a robust majority she will have 5 years in which to start getting this country into a reasonable shape. A mighty mighty difficult task. Her victory will hardly be a resounding vote of confidence. If she had Alan Johnson or David Miliband leading Labour she would be calling in the removal men right now. Come to think of if either Johnson or Miliband was the Labour leader she wouldn't have called the election. If the next election is in 2022 the new constituencies will be in place, which will please the Tories. In 2022 the Tories will have to convince the nation that they are part way through major changes that only they can complete.

    22:28 on 07 June 2017

  • anglo29: 

    There is little option but to vote Conservative. The current Labour leadership are thinly disguised Marxists dependant on an idealist but naïve student element to boost their ratings. If you want an idea of what a "Corbyn Britain" would be like in a few years time, just look at the state of Venezuela today; a failed State with an economy in ruins. Yet this is the country that Livingstone/Corbyn a few years ago under Chavez, held up as a socialist paradise.

    10:05 on 08 June 2017

  • Cojo 2004: 



    Jeremy Corbyn , after winning the election, is resigned to accept the independence of the Jocks (Scotland) and the unification of the Paddies (Eire), after this he will abolish the Royal Family and integrate England and Wales into the English Republican State (ERS).

    On defence issues he will say NOTO NATO and will create a new defence alliance, with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and North Korea (NK). This threesome will be known as the PLONKERS

    The PLONKERS will set up a free trade zone with Cuba, Iran, Zimbabwe and Venezuela and we will all have a jolly good time for ever and ever.

    12:50 on 08 June 2017

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