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Manifesto Watch – Labour

14 June 2024
| by Field Team

The Labour leader unveiled the manifesto we have all been waiting for and the one that, if polls translate to results on 4th July, will be the foundation of the next Government.

Thursday was the ultimate test for Keir Starmer and his infamous Ming Vase strategy.

Fresh from his live studio grilling by Sky’s Beth Rigby and the residents of Grimsby, Starmer and his Shadow Cabinet headed to Manchester. After Angela Rayner warmed up the crowd, the man most likely to be the next Prime Minister took to the stage to unveil Labour’s policy offering – headlined simply “Change”, the anthem of the campaign to date.

Taking to the stage in his now trademark look of no jacket and sleeves rolled up, Starmer’s speech predictably focused on Labour’s planned ‘first steps’ around improving the economy, cutting NHS waiting times and recruiting teachers, as well as clamping down on illegal immigration and antisocial behaviour. Labour’s plan to set up the publicly owned GB energy also features and forms a key part of their mission to make Britain a “clean energy superpower”, signalling support for new nuclear, carbon capture, on and offshore wind, as well as energy storage.

In keeping with his strategy, there was nothing new in the document. Indeed, he made a virtue of this, saying that people seeking political pantomime should join Nigel Farage in Clacton. Amongst the many photos of the leader in the 136 page manifesto was just a repeat of everything we had heard so far. There was a brief moment of heckling, but he used this to his advantage, declaring Labour was now a party of power, not protest, which was obviously then met with rapturous applause. But that is where the excitement and surprise for this launch peaked.

The Labour leader confirmed policies to introduce a new deal for working people to make work pay, build 1.5 million houses and give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote. There is also a pledge to cap corporation tax at 25% for the next parliament, which comes alongside a promise to retain full expensing for capital investment. On personal taxes, the manifesto commits not to increase the rates of Income Tax, National Insurance or VAT – an effort to protect themselves from current Conservative attacks accusing Labour of costing people an extra £2000 in tax.

Despite the fanfare, Starmer will continue to face questions on what is not there. The refusal to close down questions on Capital Gains Tax will not go away and the Labour leader needs a better answer to why he spent the past two campaigns insisting Jeremy Corbyn would be a “great” Prime Minister. While his poll lead isn’t shrinking, there is a softening of his poll rating as a number of surveys now put Labour in the high 30s, not low 40s. If the Tory number recovers at all, it would be the first sign of a meaningful tightening of the race.

The only poll that matters is now firmly underway.

Postal votes will be dropping around the UK from tomorrow onwards; we’re truly in the home strait.

(Photo provided by the Guardian)

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