Monday 13 April 2015

First thoughts on Labour's election manifesto

Labour's 2015 election manifesto is now out, and here are my first thoughts:

Increase the top rate of tax to 50% and abolish non-domicile tax status and zero hour contracts. People will be talking about the pledges to reduce the deficit, but these policies are the ones that will play on the estates. We have been waiting for years for a Labour pledge to start the shafting of the wealthy and their middle class stooges and this is a good start. The end of zero hours contracts is the icing on the cake.

The mansion tax idea should also play well, and marks a clear break with New Labour. Taxing homes worth more than £2,000,000 will hit the London aspirational scrote element, but provides the government with money and the rest of us with free entertainment.

Following on from that, the pledge to wage war on tax avoiders should also play well. Far more is lost each year by the rich not paying their taxes than it is by the poor being disingenuous with their benefit claim forms. Abolishing the bedroom tax should also play very well, come to think about it.

More security of tenure for people renting their homes is also promised as is a new campaign of house building. I am sad to see that the abolition of the right to buy council houses which we in Scotland now enjoy is not to be extended to the rest of the country, but this is a start at trying to solve the housing crisis.

On the constitutional front, there is a pledge to replace the House of Lords with a Senate that would represent the four home countries and, possibly, the English regions. A bill is also promised to follow on the Tory plan of devolution to the major English city-regions.

It is possible that the abolition of the Lords will end up as another failure, but to be fair even the Tories are unhappy about the sheer numbers of peers who currently sit in that chamber, so this one may surprise us by passing. The city bill looks a dead cert, since it is already Tory government policy and Labour would just be running with that idea.

Finally, Trident can be kicked into the long grass with the promise of a strategic defence review. The Tories know damn well that Britain cannot afford this system, which is why they have not given the green light to update it. A defence review gives Labour the chance to finally drop the nonsense.

People will complain about future cuts and pledges to get the deficit down, but no dates are given with the deficit pledge, so it may become a long-term strategy aim. As for the cuts to benefits, British claimants have more chance derailing Labour cuts than they do with the Tories. Tony Blair tried to cut disability benefits, but the claimants put paid to that idea, so it is possible that claimants will be able to defend themselves against any Miliband cuts.

So, not as radical as I would like, but there is enough meat here to please most English and Welsh people who are sick and tired of being reminded about New Labour and its years.

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