The British Labour party’s ‘new suicide note’
No-one can seriously visualise Jeremy Corbyn leading the country
The general election manifesto published by the British Labour Party is by common consent the most leftwing in a generation, compared – not kindly – to that disastrously produced by former leader Michael Foot in 1983, aka “the longest suicide note in history”. The Tories have called the Corbyn version “the new suicide note”.
The document is radical but not nearly as much as Foot’s – headline calls for the renationalisation of the widely reviled railways and the mail service are actually popular. And as the Financial Times points out, given the strains on public services “it is possible that the next government, almost certainly led by Theresa May’s Conservative Party, will have to raise taxes to bridge the gap”. Not that they will admit it in election mode.
The Achilles heel of the manifesto, as always, is the costings and the associated perception, milked for all it’s worth by the Tories, that Labour has reverted to its “tax and spend” roots. The party promises to set out in detail how it will fund its many expensive promises this week – the abolition of third level tuition fees would cost £8 billion alone – but has pledged that it will do so only by increasing tax on companies and the wealthiest five per cent of taxpayers.
Despite its leader’s reservation, the party is conventional on defence, promising to fund the renewal of the Trident nuclear missile programme and to adhere to the Nato requirement of a minimum two per cent of GDP spending on defence. It also says it will not accept a Brexit “no deal” from the EU, criticising May’s stance that “no deal is better than a bad deal” .
Labour will find it difficult with this manifesto to regain the middle ground voters who are turning to the “moderate” May in large numbers. But it may help its outreach to former working class supporters who switched to Ukip in part out of disillusionment with the party’s loss of its radical edge. Yet, whether courting the left or the right, the party’s fundamental weakness remains – the credibility of leaderJeremy Corbyn who no-one can seriously visualise leading the country, let alone negotiating a Brexit deal.