The British Labour Party Sets Its Message

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.

Tags: UK General Election, British Labour Party (all tags)



I can't see where

Gordon Brown makes it out of this one.  His approval ratings have been absolutely dismal and the Labour party approval is slowly falling as the Conservative gains.  Closer to the election, I think the gap might get narrower but I think Gordon Brown's days as PM are numbered. David Cameron and the Conservatives are going to unseat the Labour party.

by Chuckie Corra 2010-04-12 05:45AM | 0 recs
Thanks Charles...

....a fair assessment. 


And Chuckie - this isn't a Presidential election, but a Parliamentary one for over six hundred local candidates. The largest party is given the choice of forming a government. They can dump their leaders, form coalitions, etc...

Brown's days are numbered - but the Labour Party is more popular than he is. All the projections point to a hung parliament. The question is who will be in a position to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. 

In either scenario - Labour or Conservative as the largest party without an overall majority - Brown's days are probably numbered. The Lib Dems could well stipulate he stands down to form a coalition. If Labour are in opposition they will soon elect a new leader.

Either way, without a clear majority, there will be another election fairly soon - without Gordon Brown. 

by brit 2010-04-12 09:52AM | 0 recs

doesn't the party that wins with a majority get the PM though?  Because thats what I was referring to (conservatives winning a majority over labour)

by Chuckie Corra 2010-04-12 01:52PM | 0 recs
majority vs plurality

A majority is half plus one of the seats. A plurality is the most seats but not necessarily a working majority that is required to form a government. The Tories are likely to win a plurality of seats but Labour in coalition with the Lib-Dems seem probable to form a majority coalition government.

by Charles Lemos 2010-04-12 02:03PM | 0 recs
RE: majority vs plurality

Thanks Charles, I just began studying UK government so I'm not too fluent on elections etc.

by Chuckie Corra 2010-04-12 02:22PM | 0 recs
RE: majority vs plurality

Oh all my replies have disappeared....

In essence I was just saying don't worry Chuckie - most Brits find the system arcane, and probably vote thinking it's a presidential election

by brit 2010-04-13 07:05AM | 0 recs

The Tories will likely win the most seats and as such will get the 'first chance' to from the government. However if labour and the liberals form a coalition, they will likely have the majority and will form the government instead. But the latter action is not likely IMO, I have a hard time seeing the Lib-dems join with labour esp. if it means Brown or any of the labour top-brass being PM. If the Tories fail to win an absolute majority it will most likely be a minority government, sort of like what's been happening in Canada these last few years.

by vecky 2010-04-12 02:43PM | 0 recs

You're not wrong on current average poll estimates - but it's very much in flux on a regional basis. Labour still could emerge with the greater number of seats.


For various reasons, historical and ideological, the Lib Dems are much more likely to form a coalition or pact with Labour. The latter are more committed to electoral reform etc. and prior to Labour's landslide in 1997, Blair and Ashdown had a coalition plan worked out.

If the Tories find themselves the largest party with no overall majority, they will have to call an election if they lose a vote of confidence. There are a lot of scenarios in play here with minor parties. But let's not forget the ideological splits in the Tories, especially over EU membership, which led to constant rebellions during John Major's tenure with a narrow majority.

Interesting times. I don't know what will happen, though I'm being told by various sources that the polls aren't really reflecting Labour support, or the trend back to them.  Maybe that's just hope triumphing...

One thing is certain: Labour will have to reinvent itself from the triangulated New Labour era of Blair and Brown. After the financial collapse, it's show small signs of doing that. 

by brit 2010-04-13 07:10AM | 0 recs

It's possible but I wouldn't count on a lib-labour coalition. 1997 was 13 years ago and a lot has changed since. Much will hinge on the actual results, i.e: if labour does better than expected. OTOH I simply can't see the lib-dems signing to to Brown/Mandelson as PM.

by vecky 2010-04-13 12:30PM | 0 recs
I agree about the Brown Mandelson thing

But clearly they are the last vestiges of Old New Labour: a younger generation is waiting in the wings, one that has shown signs of being tired with the Old Guard.

And a recent poll shows that Lib Dem supporters favour an alliance with Labour by about 40 per cent to 30 per cent. 

by brit 2010-04-13 05:08PM | 0 recs
Thanks Charles...

....a fair assessment. 


And Chuckie - this isn't a Presidential election, but a Parliamentary one for over six hundred local candidates. The largest party is given the choice of forming a government. They can dump their leaders, form coalitions, etc...

Brown's days are numbered - but the Labour Party is more popular than he is. All the projections point to a hung parliament. The question is who will be in a position to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. 

In either scenario - Labour or Conservative as the largest party without an overall majority - Brown's days are probably numbered. The Lib Dems could well stipulate he stands down to form a coalition. If Labour are in opposition they will soon elect a new leader.

Either way, without a clear majority, there will be another election fairly soon - without Gordon Brown. 

by brit 2010-04-12 09:52AM | 0 recs
RE: Thanks Charles...

The Lib Dems are not interested in Brown's fate, Clegg has already laid out the demands:

A radical restructuring of the tax code to make it more progressive; green initiatives; and electoral reform.

Whom do you think is more afraid of a hung parliment, Labour or Conservative?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-12 10:27AM | 0 recs
RE: Thanks Charles...

Sorry about the double post, Jerome. And this is shorter than my original reply which got lost when I accidentally typed the wrong button.

As I replied to Vecky, the Lib Dems have more in common with Labour than the Tories, and are actually to the left of them on some issues (as you must know from your work with them) so I do think that a coalition with Labour must be their strategic goal.

Tactically, they have to distance themselves to gain the Non Tory but 'I don't like Labour' vote. They also benefit from a lot of tactical voting in constituencies where either Tory or Labour is well ahead of the other.

As for you last question: I think the narrative in a hung parliament will be that the Tories failed to close the deal. Imagine if, after 13 years in opposition, with a party in power that started two wars, and oversaw the biggest financial crisis in 70 years, the Dems had failed to get any kind of majority in the House. Then everyone would have said the Dems had failed in their mission, and though tarnished and bloodied, the Republicans had somehow held on.

I think that is the danger of a hung Parliament for the Tories. For Labour, losing their majority is not good, and it will depend whether the party can transition over to new leadership. If they can't, and Brown stays on, acting in the same ways, you could get Labour rebellions too.



by brit 2010-04-13 07:17AM | 0 recs
the Dems can use this message....

....for both 2010 and 2012.  While it still seems grim for Labour, the gap is slowly narrowing, and a hung parliament is a real possibility.

Pivoting back to November, this type of message may be the Democrats' last best shot to save Congress.  The public was angry at the process, and fustrated by the lack of progess.

by esconded 2010-04-12 09:52AM | 1 recs
Hung is the path

Then the Lib Dems will be able to take hold of some more power. Right now, it looks like Labour or Conservatives may get the opportunity to form the first Government, but I would bet that even if Labour does win a slight plurality in a hung parliment, its more likey that the Lib Dems hold out and form a government with the Conservatives instead.

That's just a hunch, as Labour has been so inept lately (its not due to Labour that they are tightening but due to the lack to of the Tories), that they are not likely to start getting it right, even if they do come out of this slightly ahead.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-12 10:23AM | 0 recs
RE: Hung is the path

Don't know about that--19 percent support for Lib Dems probably doesn't translate to 19 percent of seats and may not even give them 10 percent of seats. It depends on how much tactical voting there is, and when I followed UK elections closely I was always surprised there wasn't more tactical voting.

by desmoinesdem 2010-04-12 12:58PM | 0 recs
RE: Hung is the path

As it stands now the Tories would win about 100 seat plurality but fall far short of a majority. I didn't include it in the post but other parties will also win constituencies. The far-right BNP and the regional parties (Ulster Nationalist and the SNP) will certainly win a number of seats.

by Charles Lemos 2010-04-12 01:48PM | 0 recs
RE: Hung is the path

The differences between the parties is not always so clear cut. The Tories have moved considerably to the left over recent years while Labour has moved right.

And it should be noted that the lib-dems got 22% of the vote last time (2007) but only got <10% of the seats. And even with the Tories at about 40% of the vote, that is still more than enough to win an absolute majority in seats.

by vecky 2010-04-12 02:53PM | 0 recs
RE: Hung is the path

Slight correction; the Tories appear to have moved left, in terms of optics - 'hugging a hoodie', Cameron's 'cycling to work' etc.  - but the recent release of the manifesto shows that to all other intents and purposes, they model themselves on US republicans (where they get a lot of backing and back office advice) with the obsession with minimal government, and their own federalist bugbear in Brussels.

The Conservatives never had the showdown with their far right wing in the way Labour did - through Clause 4 - with the hard left. Cameron is tolerated for the image makeover (he has a background in PR) but only if he delivers electoral success: otherwise the Thatcherite dries are still very much the governing consensus.

As for New Labour's triangulation to the right: your own Primary and Presidential races prove that ideological tactic is over. More than anything the Credit Crunch, and the overreliance on the City and the UK's financial services industry, has fatally undermined the deregulated rhetoric of the last 30 years.

The Labour Party is shifting leftwards, in government or out.  

by brit 2010-04-13 05:14PM | 0 recs
RE: Hung is the path

Much of the question is ofcourse how genuine is the Tory left-ward bent under Cameroon - if the Tories are smart we'll never really find out - like what their compatriots in Canada have done. Though there are enough 'slips of the tongue' to give pause. But even paying lip service to Climate Change, NHS, the EU, gay rights, etc signify some sort of a shift.

US Republicans OTOH aren't quite so much like the Tories as they are the UKIP. The Tories are probably closest in ideological terms to Blue-Dog Democrats if anything.

by vecky 2010-04-13 05:38PM | 0 recs
RE: Hung is the path

But a lot of the Tory Party is like UKIP. In terms of the EU, Cameron has left the Christian Democrat grouping and joined forces with some right wing nationalists from Poland and Lithuania. Though Cameron pays lip service to 'change' and Obama, most his back benchers despise the 'hopey stuff'. 

It's an open question, and I'd need to know more about the Canadian comparison, but my guess is the Tories haven't decided if they've really reformed, or whether they're just trying 'compassionate conservatism' a decade later. 

by brit 2010-04-13 06:12PM | 0 recs
RE: Hung is the path

It's not just the Lib Dems, but 3rd parties in general that make the task for the Conservatives very difficult:

More generally, Cameron’s task is made much harder by Britain’s unusually large block of third and minor party MPs. In 1979 there were just 28 such MPs, meaning Thatcher was able to govern comfortably having won just 71 more Tory than Labour MPs. But by 2005, that 28 had more than trebled to become 92. So this year, if the Tories manage to lead Labour by 71—on the face of it a good result, given Labour’s lead of 158 after 2005—Cameron will almost certainly not secure an overall majority. More significantly, as long as at least 70 MPs belong to a mix of Lib Dems and minor parties, future elections could throw up hung parliaments too.


by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-12 05:28PM | 0 recs


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