Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn unveiled his party’s election manifesto yesterday, setting out radical plans to transform Britain with public sector pay rises, higher taxes on companies and a sweeping nationalisation of infrastructure.
Voters face a stark choice at the country’s December 12 election: opposition leader Corbyn’s socialist vision, including widespread nationalisation and free public services, or Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s drive to deliver Brexit within months and build a “dynamic market economy”.
Speaking in Birmingham, Corbyn set out his crowd-pleasing plans, offering something for almost everyone in Britain — from help to parents with young children to free university education and more money for elderly care.
In a speech punctuated by applause and standing ovations from supporters, he promised to stand up for ordinary people against the “bankers, billionaires and the establishment” who were fighting to keep a system “rigged in their favour”.
“Labour’s manifesto is a manifesto for hope, that is what this document is — a manifesto that will bring real change,” Corbyn said, describing his approach as the most “radical and ambitious plan” in decades.
Lagging in the polls, Corbyn hopes his message of change will drown out criticism of his Brexit stance, which even some in his party say lacks the clarity of Johnson’s vow to “get Brexit done”. Instead, the Labour leader says he will get Brexit “sorted” in six months, with a new exit deal put to a second referendum as a way to bring the country together.
Hoping to avoid comparisons with Labour’s 1983 socialist-inspired manifesto described later by a then Labour lawmaker as “the longest suicide note in history”, Corbyn rejected suggestions he was harping back to the 1970s.
He was instead offering “a green industrial revolution”, an ambitious plan that, he said, could be paid for in part by taxing the richest in Britain.
The manifesto showed an extra £82.9bn of spending, matched by £82.9bn of revenue-raising measures.
“It’s impossible to understate just how extraordinary this manifesto is in terms of the sheer scale of money being spent and raised through taxation,” said Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies independent think-tank.
He said Labour plans to raise the revenue required from taxes on high earners and corporations were “simply not credible”.
Both parties have promised to end economic austerity and spend more money on public services before the election, which will determine how, when and even whether Britain leaves the European Union.
Brandon Lewis, a Conservative minister, said Labour would go on “a reckless spending spree which would take a sledgehammer to the British economy”. Most pollsters put the Conservatives in front, but few are prepared to predict a victor.
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