In this third post, I am focusing on the section of the Labour Manifesto that carries the title:
TACKLE POVERTY AND INEQUALITY (pp. 59-85)
It is divided into six parts, outlined below. My task in this series of blogposts is to highlight the socialist vision in these pages of the Labour Manifesto so that the street cliché: "All politicians are the same - there's no difference between them" withers on the vine. The Labour vision and the policies that follow from that way of seeing the world are markedly different from the social, economic and political realities that have come to pass in this last decade shaped by Tory beliefs and policies.
|Is this fair? Labour politicians don't think so; Tory politicians deny the reality.|
'Work should provide a decent life for all, guaranteeing not just dignity and respect in the workplace, but also the income and leisure time to allow for a fulfilling life outside it.'
Under the Tories, pay has stagnated while insecurity and inequality have risen. In the UK, there are 14.3 million people in poverty; 9 million of these live in families where at least one adult works.
We will rapidly introduce a Real Living Wage of £10 per hour for all workers aged 16 and over - and
help small businesses manage the extra cost.
help small businesses manage the extra cost.
We will require large companies to set up Inclusive Ownership Funds so that up to 10% of a company will be owned collectively by employees, with dividend payments capped at £500 per year, and the rest used to top up the Climate Apprenticeship Fund.
We are proud of the trade union movement's historic achievements in giving people a voice at work through collective action. We need to shift the balance of power back to the workers so that we achieve decent wages, security and dignity at work. A Ministry for Employment Rights will be created. Zero-hour contracts will be banned.
We will end excessive working hours. Within a decade we will have a 32-hour week, with no loss of pay and funded by productivity increases.
Businesses are the heartbeat of our economy, creating jobs, wealth and innovations. But the upper echelons of corporate Britain have been corrupted by a culture in which the long-term health of a company is sacrificed for a quick buck for a few - leaving workers, small business suppliers and pensioners in the lurch.
- WOMEN AND EQUALITIES
'Labour is the party of equality, committed to a world free from all forms of bigotry and discrimination. Whether campaigning on the streets or passing legislation in government, Labour is the only party to consistently stand with women, disabled people, people from ethnic backgrounds and LGBT + communities.'
|Gender inequality is still with us - it's a scandal.|
The Tories have failed to tackle society's burning injustices. Indeed, over 85% of the burden of Austerity has fallen on the shoulders of women. So Labour will create a new Department for Women and Equalities to ensure that all our laws are working in the interests of women and equality.
We are nearly fifty years on from the Equal Pay Act - yet women still earn 13% less than men. We will close that gender pay gap.
Achieving racial equality is a bedrock Labour value. But the Tories have fanned the flames of racism - their 'hostile environment ' policies led to the scandal of the treatment of the Windrush generation. Hate crime has more than doubled in the last five years.
Two UN reports in recent years have said that the government has committed 'systematic violations' of the rights of disabled people.
The Tories have been slow to understand the scale of abuse and discrimination LGBT+ people continue to face in our society. Labour will eliminate remaining areas of discrimination, by law, ensuring that LGBY+ people can live in safety and dignity.
'A Labour government will establish a humane immigration system …. built on human rights and aimed at meeting the skills and labour shortages that exist in our economy and public services.'
Our immigration system must allow us to recruit the people we need, and to welcome them and their families. The movement of people around the world has enriched our society, our economy and our culture.
|The Windrush scandal - 2018 - at least 83 British citizens were wrongfully deported.|
We will regulate the labour market to stop the undercutting of wages and conditions. Ending the exploitation of all workers, including migrant workers, is our goal.
The Tory policy of pursuing net migration figures has undermined our economy and our public services. Entry has been refused to key workers including nurses. It has created a hostile environment within our communities. We will scrap the 2014 Immigration Act. We will end indefinite detention for migrants seeking residence.
Tory governments have failed their international legal obligations to refugees and asylum seekers. A Labour government will uphold these rights and meet those obligations.
- SOCIAL SECURITY
'Labour holds social security in the same esteem as our health and education systems. It is there to help each of us in times of need. If someone falls on hard times - because they lose their job, get sick or lose a loved one - Labour will help them live with dignity and provide support to get them back on their feet.'
Labour wants a society in which people care for one another. Under the Tories, we are pitched against each other. Poverty has become endemic. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is now a symbol of fear for many. It will be replaced by a Department for Social Security, which will be there to help and support people, not punish and police them.
The Tory flagship social security programme, Universal Credit (UC) has been a catastrophe. Families have lost their homes; foodbanks have become the means to access food. Labour will scrap UC. We will develop a decent and fair replacement that does not use a 'digital only' approach that excludes and disadvantages the vulnerable.
|Many more food parcels are needed now to meet increased demand.|
People deserve a decent retirement free of financial stress and insecurity. Under the Tories, 400,000 pensioners have been pushed into poverty and a generation of women born in the 1950s have had their pension age changed unfairly. We will recompense these 'Waspies' for this injustice. We will reverse the Tory policy of raising the State Pension Age.
'Everyone has the right to a decent, secure home. In 1945, Labour promised such a right; in 2019 we renew that pledge. Too many people are being denied their right to a good home by our housing system that treats homes as financial assets rather than places to live.'
The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 symbolised our failing housing system. We still have so many high-rise homes and buildings covered in cladding that is a fire-risk. Most people know of someone affected by the housing crisis: younger people unable to buy a first home, renters trapped in damp flats, families stuck on council waiting lists, the homeless living and dying on our streets.
|Grenfell - before the fire - the residents were not listened to when they said the building was unsafe.|
|Grenfell Tower at dawn - 14 June 2017 - 72 people died in the fire.|
Only Labour has a plan to fix this housing crisis. We will set up a new English Sovereign Land Trust with powers to buy public land more cheaply for low-cost housing. We will deliver a new social housebuilding programme of more than a million homes over a decade, with council housing at its heart. We will build more low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers in every area with prices linked to local incomes. We will give renters the protection they do not have now. We will end rough-sleeping within five years.
- CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
'For many people, politics doesn't work. The Westminster bubble is a world away from their daily lives. The Labour Party was founded to give working-class people a voice in politics.'
We will take urgent steps to refresh our democracy. Labour will end the hereditary principle in the House of Lords.
We will set up a Constitutional Convention, led by a citizen's assembly to decide how power should be distributed in the UK today.
Britain is one of the most centralised countries in Europe. Labour will decentralise decision-making and strengthen local democracy.
|Let's make decentralisation a reality - so we can all live happier and healthier lives.|
We will reduce the voting age to 16.
Labour will change how politics is funded, banning donations from those who avoid and evade taxes, and closing loopholes that have allowed shell companies to operate from tax havens and funnel dark money into politics.
We will ensure that Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland enjoy the full fruits of decentralisation and our economic policies.
I hope this post has helped your understanding of the Labour Manifesto. Here are links to the first two posts in the series:
The last part in the Manifesto series will appear next week - a four-part socialist vision for a UK fit to live in.