The Guardian has reported that Labour is planning to ditch radical reforms and only offer ‘safe policies’ in a stripped-down, cautious manifesto that is “bombproof” to Tory attacks.
Keir Starmer has now rowed back from numerous big policies, such as its £28bn a year commitment on green investment, replacing the House of Lords with a democratically elected second chamber, and the creation of a new national care service.
As for Keir Starmer’s claim that Labour can ‘make Brexit work’, and that there is “no case” to rejoin the EU, or the Single Market or customs union, wouldn’t it be more honest to state that Brexit cannot work?
Can Labour win with a ‘bombproof’ manifesto, that creates a crater full of demolished landmark policies, previously announced with such prominent fanfares?
Guardian columnist, John Harris, wrote that thinking small might get Labour into number 10, but it could also stop it staying there.
‘Unlike Brown and Blair, who made bold changes early on, Starmer seems determined to offer as little as possible.’
I agree. As John Harris pointed out, there is a credible case for large-scale, debt-financed public investment, which would have the opposite effect to the financial ruin that Labour seems to fear.
Such bold plans could spur the growth, and tax receipts, that Labour needs to take the country on a new direction.
After all, did the USA climb out of deep depression in the 1930s by offering safe, minimalist ideas?
No, President Roosevelt’s plans were brash and daring, involving massive borrowing, all of which was paid back, and more, through the growth that was subsequently achieved.
It’s not certain Labour will win this time.
The Tory party has been the dominant party in power for over 100 years.
Only three Labour leaders have ever won general elections – Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson, and Tony Blair.
Since 1900 – when Labour was formed – the party has only won eight out of 32 general elections.
The Conservatives are the world’s most successful political party because they know how to cling on to power, despite scandalous, corrupt, and sleazy behaviour that has blighted so many of their administrations.
Labour’s landslide winning 1997 manifesto – including courageous policies that were considered radical at the time, such as a statutory minimum wage – was announced, explained, and promoted well in advance of the general election.
What’s more, Labour stuck to those plans and delivered most of them.
In my view, Labour today should also offer big, bold, and brave policies that appeal to a broad section of the country, which is now hungry for a new and exciting direction for Britain, following 14 years of Tory misrule and mayhem.
Unfortunately, by announcing and then dropping so many grand plans, voters might not believe anything Labour now offers.
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