Monday 13-04-2015 - 16:57
The Labour Party today released their General Election 2015 manifesto.
Launching the manifesto with a speech in Manchester, Labour leader Ed Miliband led with assurances about the Party’s fiscal credibility, guaranteeing that no policy commitment made would require any additional borrowing.
Although the majority of the commitments contained in the manifesto are not new policies (they have been announced at various points over the past year as Labour has geared up for their General Election campaign) their inclusion in the manifesto is significant. For all political parties, these manifestos are the documents which will be revisited over the coming years to judge their performance in the new Parliament and potentially in the new Government, and will be used to hold them to account if they fail to honour them.
Labour’s manifesto contains a number of policy commitments which reflect some of the key demands contained in the New Deal for the Next Generation which students and students’ unions have been campaigning for. The manifesto includes commitments to:
- Votes at 16
- A ban on exploitative zero-hours contracts meaning those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract.
- Repealing the Health and Social Care Act
- A new, independent system of careers advice which offers face-to-face guidance.
- Repealing the Lobbying Act
- Compulsory age-appropriate sex and relationship education
- A ban on letting agent fees.
- A requirement for all winners of major government contracts to provide apprenticeships.
The manifesto also includes commitments to previously announced policies including cutting tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000, introducing a compulsory jobs guarantee for all young people out of work for longer than one year and a youth allowance for 18-21 year olds in training, tackling the growth of unpaid internships, and introducing tax rebates to firms who become Living Wage employers. The manifesto also says that Labour would raise the minimum wage to £8/hour by October 2019 – which is a year faster than previously committed.
A number of the spending commitments contained in the document – including on reducing tuition fees and increasing investment in the NHS – will be paid for in part by introducing new measures to tackle tax avoidance. Announced over the weekend, these measures would be contained in a Labour government Finance Bill – specifically an Anti-Tax Avoidance Bill.
As part of the Tax Dodging Bill coalition, NUS have been campaigning, along with Oxfam, Christian Aid, Action Aid and 20 other organisations, to tackle corporate tax dodging and raise funds to tackle poverty in the UK and abroad. Labour’s proposals represent a significant step in the right direction, and we will be continuing to put the pressure on all political parties to take tax dodging seriously and to legislate against it in the new Parliament.
The Conservative Party and the Green Party will be releasing their manifestos tomorrow, and on Wednesday the Liberal Democrats will publish theirs. We will also be looking through these and will produce summaries of these with key policy announcements.