Jeremy Corbyn this morning launched Labour’s manifesto for the General Election, in which he confirmed plans for wide-ranging re-nationalisation of public utilities, an £11billion windfall tax on the oil industry to pay for Labour’s environmental policies, and to build 100,000 council homes per year.
Called “It’s Time For Real Change”, the manifesto has been co-authored by Corbyn’s policy adviser, Andrew Fisher. It is one of Fisher’s last major tasks in the role before the South Norwood resident leaves his post to spend more time with his young family. The manifesto was immediately described as the most radical Labour manifesto in decades, promising an “investment blitz” that would leave no corner of the country untouched.
In introducing it, Corbyn welcomed the hostility of billionaires, big business and dodgy landlords.
The last manifesto in 2017 – “For The Many Not The Few” – had pledged to nationalise mail, rail, water and energy. This time Labour’s 105-page manifesto promises nationalised broadband, free NHS prescriptions, free dental checks, free hospital parking and six years’ free adult education in England.
“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming,” Corbyn said.
Corbyn urged the public to vote for hope at the general election on December 12.
The Labour leader called it “a manifesto full of popular policies that the political establishment has blocked for a generation”.
Corbyn insisted that, as Labour has promised in 2017, there would be no tax rises for 95per cent of earners, with only those earning over £80,000 being affected.
“You can have this plan for real change, because you don’t need money to buy it: you just need a vote,” he said.
One key revenue-raiser is the one-off tax on oil and gas companies, which would create a “just transition fund” to help shift Britain towards a green economy without creating mass job losses.
The tax would be calculated according to an assessment of each company’s past contribution to the climate crisis and could be paid over several years. The total is 10 times the £1.1bn the Treasury expects to raise from the oil and gas sector this year.
“We can no longer deny the climate emergency,” Corbyn said. “We can see it all around us, as the recent floods in Yorkshire and the east Midlands have shown. We have no time to waste. The crisis demands swift action, but it isn’t right to load the costs of the climate emergency on to the nurse, the builder or the energy worker.
“So a Labour government will ensure the big oil and gas corporations that profit from heating up our planet will shoulder and pay their fair share of the burden with a just transition tax.”
Labour has also pledged to pump £75billion into housing over five years, promising “the biggest council and social housing programme in decades”.
The money will go towards building at least 150,000 new social homes a year within five years – with 100,000 of these to be delivered by councils and the rest by housing associations.
The 100,000 council homes would represent an increase in council housebuilding of more than 3,500per cent to become the biggest programme since shortly after World War II, Labour says. The last time that 150,000 social homes were built in England in a year was in 1967 when Labour’s Harold Wilson was Prime Minister.
Official statistics published this week showed that 57,485 affordable homes were completed in 2018-2019. Of these, 82per cent were built by housing associations and only 11per cent were built by local authorities, with 6,287 for social rent.
Labour’s housing investment plan was welcomed by leaders in the social housing sector.
The proposals would be “a real game-changer for social housing”, said Kate Henderson, the chief executive of the National Housing Federation. She called it the “type of investment needed to fix the housing crisis”.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, described the plan as “transformational for housing in this country” and said that building homes at this scale would do more than any other single measure to end the housing emergency.
And Terrie Alafat, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, told the Inside Housing website, “We think the scale of Labour’s proposals are a welcome step in ending our housing crisis.”
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