The British Labour Party Sets Its Message
by Charles Lemos, Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 02:47:12 AM EDT
With Prime Minister Gordon Brown battling for his political life in Britain's upcoming general elections now scheduled for May 6, the British Labour Party has set its campaign themes: "'The Road Ahead'. Britain is at a crossroads - Let's secure the recovery with Labour" and "A Fair Future for All."
Tomorrow in the West Midlands, Prime Minister Gordon Brown will unveil Labour's platform for what would be an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in office for the party. Though Labour still trails in the polls, the gap has closed considerably in recent months. Once trailing in the mid-teens, a recent ICM poll showed the Tories (Conservative) at 39 percent to Labour's 37 percent with 19 percent opting to the Liberal Democrats. As it stand now, there is a real chance of hung Parliament with no party securing an outright majority.
Learn more about Labour's campaign at their website.
Here's Energy Secretary Ed Miliband, who was in charge of crafting the Labour Party's manifesto, offering a preview of the Labour electoral platform:
We have built this manifesto not just on conversations with party members, but with people and businesses all over the country.
Above all this a manifesto which is a manifesto for the future.
It is a manifesto which is not a business-as-usual manifesto because these times do not demand business as usual.
All of us here are incredibly proud of our record and we know the difference it has made in Walthamstow: the minimum wage, sure-start, tax credits, rebuilt schools, rebuilt hospitals. All of those things and many more that we could all list here. Why did we make those changes?
Because we saw in 1997 the need for national renewal in this country. We saw what needed to be done. We saw the need to apply our values to the condition of Britain and to change our country.
So we have a proud record over the past decade.
But we are running for the future at this general election.
We are running to secure the economic recovery and that is on the ballot at this general election. But we know we are running for more than that.
We are running for a clear agenda that is shaped by two events in particular: the global economic crisis that hit us and creates new challenges for our economy and our public services.
And the political crisis caused by expens es, because this is a once in a generation opportunity to reform our politics and make our political system more accountable.
In response to these crises, we seek three mandates for:
Building the stronger, fairer economy of the future. Protecting and reforming our public services and strengthening our society, as we cut the deficit and renewing our politics
The argument that links them together is that the challenges the country faces need a government which is always reforming and stands by people rather than leaving them on their own.
And I just want to talk to you about each of those things and how we arrived at our manifesto, learning lessons from the past and understanding the demands of the future.
First of all, on the economy. It won’t be a return to business as usual manifesto because we don’t just need to return to growth as an economy we need to grow differently.
The central insight is that government and market need to work differently together to build the kind of economy we believe in.
This will be a pro-business manifesto, supporting enterprise, supporting companies to invest.
And it will be a pro-business manifesto that sets out how Britain can be a country that leads the world in the new technologies of the future and builds successful long-term companies.
The jobs and growth of the future must come from growing more and better businesses, and will not come as much from public services and personal consumption.
We know that financial services are an important job creator in this country and will continue to be so. But we also learnt that we were too reliant on this industry.
So we as government need to ensure that Britain will be a leader in the new industries of the future, not just in financial services.
We are the 6th biggest manufacturing country in the world. But we can do even better.
Take the area of green industry and the green future we need.
In our manifesto we will have a green investment bank: funded by government selling assets, to put the money into the green businesses of the future.
That can unleash a wave of thousands and thousands of jobs in this country, as business and entrepreneurs get help to start new enterprises that can make the most of the global move to low carbon.
Already we are seeing offshore wind companies coming to this country. Electric cars being built in Sunderland.
That is because government was willing to support the private sector in making the decisions that are necessary for the future.
So we need a broader base for our economy with new jobs for the future.
And we also need everyone to share in that prosperity.
So we need more apprenticeships, a rising minimum wage. We will make it easier for people to get on the housing ladder, scrapping stamp duty for 9 out of 10 first time buyers.
So everyone has a share in rising pro sperity whatever their income level.
And as we strengthen the incentive to work, we will increase the demand for responsibility.
That’s why we will set out in our manifesto how we can ensure people who can work are never better off on benefits.
We will say to people on benefits that if you can work, you have a responsibility to do so.
To the young unemployed we will say that after 6 months you will get an offer of a job, but that if you don’t take it you will lose your benefits. And for the long term unemployed after 2 years.
No writing people off to unemployment. And no option of a life on benefit.
But what we have learnt over the last decade is that it undermines all our efforts to build a society based on a clear set of values if the highest earners in our society show gross irresponsibility which destroys rather than creates wealth.
So we will have rules in the system to ensure that never again can a small number of people take such risks with the prosperity of our society by acting irresponsibly in the financial markets.
So we want a different sort of economy in the future. Not back to business as usual.
And just as it can’t be business as usual in relation to the economy and financial markets, nor can it be in relation to our public services.
We know there are tough choices ahead on public spending, including reductions in lower priority programmes.
We have said we will protect spending on policing, education and health. But to get the further improvements we need in these public services, we need to drive forward and change the way the services work.
We don’t believe in take it or leave it public services where you get what you are given. That is back to the old days before 1997.
No limits on how long you had to spend on an NHS waiting list, no guarantees about school standards, no national standards for the police.
And we have to drive our servic es to do better with the same resources over the coming years.
We will do this by liberating the best in our public services to do more, including taking over those services that are under-performing, finding new ways of organising our services like mutuals and providing personal guarantees of what people can expect.
So in health you won’t just get an 18 week waiting list guarantee, a 4 hour NHS A and E guarantee, a 2 week cancer referral guarantee but now also a guarantee of getting your cancer test result within a week,
In each area of our public services, our manifesto will set out a clear mechanism for guarantees and a clear means of redress.
And despite the deficit, we will confront new challenges our society faces, like facing up to the aging society.
The guiding mission of our public services is to maximise the opportunities people have to make the most of their lives and minimise the risks people should not have to bear on their own.
All of us know that care for the elderly in this country isn’t good enough: people getting inadequate care in their own home, forced to sell their own homes to pay the hundreds of thousands of pounds for care costs.
It will take time to build a universal national care service but our manifesto will embark on that journey: starting with free personal care in the home for those with the highest needs.
Our commitment to the elderly speaks to a wider set of values and beliefs we have about our society and the things we need to respect.
So our manifesto will strengthen the things that matter to people in society: providing time for parents with their kids, protecting local institutions like post offices, ensuring everyone in a local community fulfils their responsibilities.
It can’t be business as usual in our economy, public services or politics, because of the gravity of the issues we face: a system that had lost trust even before the expenses crisis.
All of us know that politics needs to do much more to reconnect with people
That is why we are reforming the system for MPs.
But we know we need to go beyond that.
We have to seize this moment to make our parliamentary system properly accountable.
That is why it is right that we offer a referendum on the alternative voting system, so that no MP can be elected without 50% of the vote.
And have said we will do so by October 2011
And it is why it is right also, as Labour has tried to do for 100 years, that we finally say it is time to have a democratically elected 2nd chamber in this country.
And that we get the backing of the people in order to make sure it happens. So in all these areas, we are reformers.
Reformers in relation to our economy. Reformers in relation to our public services. And reformers in relation to our politics.
Believers that it is active government that makes p eople powerful not absent government that would leave people on their own. But conscious that it is the people who believe in the role of government that must be its most ardent reformers.
And with a clear belief that we must be bolder about ensuring that at every level people take responsibility as well as demanding rights: from how you behave in your neighbourhood to ensuring everyone pays their taxes.
This manifesto is shaped by challenging times, constrained by financial pressures, not promising the earth, but, fundamentally we are optimistic about Britain and what we can achieve.
Because if over the coming parliament we can be the people who restore full employment in this country, build the infrastructure of the future, who make sure that people share fairly in rising prosperity, who reform our public services to make them more personal and renew our politics; they will be extraordinary and proud achievements that we make.
And our manifesto will pass the three tests that matter: credibility, meeting future challenges and fairness.
And what a contrast it is with our opponents at this election.
They make uncosted commitments on tax that they cannot explain how they would fund.
They have no plan for the future of our economy, our public services or our politics.
And they are unfair. They would cut spending on our schools, they would cut tax credits; taking money from the children of widows and single parents to give money to married couples without children and they would prioritise an inheritance tax cut for millionaires.
In contrast, every policy in our manifesto will pass the tests of credibility, the future and fairness: designed to help improve the lives of ordinary, lower and middle income families in Britain.
We unveil our manifesto tomorrow as the people who will stand up for a prosperous, fair and democratic Britain.
Not by pursuing business as usual, but answering the c all of the next phase of national renewal that Britain needs.
Let’s go out and make the case and build a society with a future that is fair for all.