Corbyn declares war on rich and powerful with ‘manifesto of hope’

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to take on the “rich and powerful” as he set out his plan to transform Britain with the most “ambitious and radical” programme of reform in decades.

Labour’s General Election manifesto pledged to invest in public services, take action to tackle climate change and return key utilities to public ownership.

It would see day-to-day government spending rise by £83 billion by 2024 – paid for by tax increases for business and the better off – with investment of £400 billion over the course of the next decade.

In a surprise move, the party announced plans for a windfall tax on the oil and gas companies, to provide an £11 billion support package for workers in the industry as the country shifted to renewable energy sources.

Speaking at the launch event in Birmingham, Mr Corbyn said it was a “manifesto of hope” that would bring to an end a system “rigged” in favour of “the billionaires and the super rich”.

However, the Tories accused Labour of planning a “reckless spending spree” which would “take a sledgehammer” to the British economy.

The plans include:

– Bringing back rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership and part-nationalising BT to provide a free public broadband service

– A £75 billion programme to build 150,000 new council and social homes a year within five years

– An annual 4.3% increase in NHS spending, with the reintroduction of yearly free dental check-ups

– An immediate 5% pay rise for public sector workers, with year-on-year above-inflation increases to follow

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

– Introducing a “real living wage” of at least £10 an hour while ending zero hours contracts and strengthening trade union rights

– 30 hours of free childcare to all pre-school aged youngsters and guarantee of a Sure Start centre in every community

– Creating a national education service providing through-life learning and scrapping university tuition fees

– Reversing corporation tax cuts under the Conservatives and raising taxes for those on £80,000 and over with a new “super rich” rate for those on more than £125,000.

In a combative performance designed to appeal to Labour’s base, Mr Corbyn said the hostility of the rich and powerful to their plans was “inevitable”.

“They know we will deliver our plans, which is why they want to stop us being elected,” he said.

“They know we will go after the tax dodgers, the bad bosses and the big polluters so that everybody in our country gets a fair chance in life.

“That’s why they throw everything they’ve got at us. Because they’re scared of real change. Because they aren’t on your side.”

The manifesto reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to renegotiate a new Brexit deal with Brussels and then put it to the public in a referendum.

On immigration, it stops short of supporting continued freedom of movement – as many in the party want – if the country were to vote again to leave the EU.

General election 2019 poll of polls
General election 2019 poll of polls

It says future policy would be “subject to negotiations” while recognising the social and economic benefits free movement had brought.

On climate change, the manifesto also stops short of a commitment to make the economy carbon neutral by 2030 as the party conference had called for.

Instead it promises a “green new deal” which would aim to achieve “the substantial majority of our emissions” reductions by 2030, supported by a £250 billion investment fund.

Boris Johnson said the lack of a clear plan for Brexit was “the hole at the heart” of the manifesto.

“What we want to know is what is his plan to deliver Brexit and what’s the deal he wants to do – and which side would he vote on that deal and we still don’t know,” he said.

“Until we have answers to those questions, until we get Brexit done, none of this carries any economic credibility whatever.”