The Corbyn Manifesto: British Labour leader offers radical alternative
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, laughs upon arriving for the launch of Labour's General Election manifesto, at Birmingham City University, England, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12. | Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

BIRMINGHAM, U.K.—British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn declared war on bankers, billionaires, bad bosses, dodgy landlords, media moguls, and tax-dodging corporations as he launched the party’s transformative election manifesto last week.

The Labour leader said the manifesto—the “most radical in decades”—offers Britain “hope and real change” with policies that the “political establishment” and the “most powerful people” had blocked for a generation. Corbyn is leading Labour in the Dec. 12 parliamentary election against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

Corbyn accepted the fact that it was “inevitable” that the country’s richest would rally against the party’s plans. He told the crowd at Birmingham City University that the “vested interests” of Britain’s billionaires, a third of whom fund the Conservative Party, would understandably feel threatened by Labour’s determination to redistribute wealth and power.

He said: “Over the next three weeks, they are going to tell you that everything in this manifesto is impossible. That it’s too much for you. Because they don’t want real change. Why would they? The system is working just fine for them. It’s rigged in their favor. But it’s not working for you.

“If your wages never seem to go up and your bills never seem to go down, if your public services only seem to get worse, despite the heroic efforts of those who work in them, then it’s not working for you. Labour is on your side. And there could scarcely be a clearer demonstration of that than the furious reaction of the rich and powerful.”

Labour in government intends to put more investment into public services and public workers’ pay, re-nationalize utilities and transport for the benefit of communities and workers, and build more than 150,000 affordable rent publicly-owned housing units per year—the most in five decades.

The 105-page manifesto also sets out plans for a “Green Industrial Revolution,” bringing back rail, mail, water, and energy into public ownership, rent controls and more protections for private tenants, as well as full-fiber broadband free to everyone in the country.

It also pledges a “real living wage” of at least £10-an-hour ($13 USD) while ending zero-hours contracts and the Conservatives’ punishing Universal Credit scheme, which combines all sorts of public assistance benefits under a single payment with access conditions designed to deny payouts. Trade union rights would be strengthened and a national education service established to provide more school funding, free life-long learning, and early years care.

It’s time for Real Change—Labour Party Manifesto 2019

The Labour Party is promising additional funding for the National Health Service (Britain’s public health care system) and the reversal of privatization of health care and cuts to emergency services. In government, Labour would also get Brexit “sorted” within six months, giving the public the final say between the option to leave with a “credible deal” or to remain in the European Union.

Corbyn insisted that only people earning more than £80,000 a year (just over $100,000 USD) would see their income tax increased to pay for Labour’s plans.

Attendees at the manifesto’s launch chanted “Not for sale!” when Corbyn mentioned that he had held up redacted reports during last week’s televised debate with Johnson detailing secret talks between British and American officials about opening up the NHS to U.S.-based firms.

Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

He urged those not registered to vote—particularly students—to sign up and to “get your friends and family registered too.” The deadline for registration is 5pm local time on Nov. 26 for those living in England, Scotland or Wales. For British nationals living overseas, they can register at gov.uk/register-to-vote by midnight on Nov. 26.

Labour’s manifesto was launched as figures showed the Conservatives raised £5.67 million ($7.3 million USD) in big-money donations in the first week of the election campaign, 25 times more than Labour’s £218,500 ($282,000 USD).

Responding to the Electoral Commission figures, Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said: “While the Conservative Party is in the pockets of vested interests and the super-rich, we are proud that the Labour Party is funded by hundreds of thousands of people donating what they can afford to build a fairer society.

“Labour is on the side of the people and the Tories are on the side of the billionaires.”

Morning Star


CONTRIBUTOR

Lamiat Sabin
Lamiat Sabin

Lamiat Sabin is a news reporter and deputy news editor for Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain.

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