According to the Labour Manifesto they now buy into a policy they criticised as being a policy of austerity . They seem to wish to cut the deficit from £90 billion to £30 billion by 2019-20. Their tax increases are modest in terms of how much revenue they will raise, even on their own figures. Some of their tax proposals may end up losing the Exchequer revenue if Labour won and implemented them. It must mean they are planning a lot of what they used to call “spending cuts” to achieve their goal.
The single main message of their Manifesto is that the last government was right – the UK government did need to get the deficit down, and we do need to finish the job of getting it down. Labour leave it to the Greens and the SNP to make the case for bigger spending and more borrowing. Labour give us the headline that they will get rid of the deficit, and suggest the debt will be reducing. If you examine the numbers more carefully you see that in practice they will push up borrowing by considerably more than the Conservative plans, and will not be cutting the stock of debt by 2019-20. They will carry on borrowing to finance investment. Debt may be falling as a percentage of GDP, depending on how much growth is left. The detail does not back up the headline.
Some of the high level rhetoric of their Manifesto is often inoffensive or sensible. They want “hard work to be rewarded” – who doesn’t. They want more “high skill high wage jobs” – who doesn’t. They want more new homes. The problem is the policies to bring them about may be counter productive.
They now mention immigration. They wish to curb EU migrants from getting any benefits for the first two years here, compared to the Conservative four years. They think all public service workers should be able to speak English.
Perhaps the dearest ( and entirely uncosted)pledge in the whole document is their wish to remove all carbon (dioxide?) from electricity production by 2030 and to set more demanding whole economy targets for carbon. They offer little to England, with no English votes for English issues in the Commons, and no detail on how the finance would be negotiated once Scotland has more of her own tax raising powers.
The Manifesto is full of proposals to intervene and regulate business more. Their proposals on energy are especially complex, and could be dangerous given the overriding need for more investment in more capacity as soon as possible to keep the lights on.