After a false start last week — a leak had anticipated the content — here is the final and official version of the manifesto of the Labour Party in all its socialistic radiance. The Labour Party was the first party in presenting its proposal for the political elections on the upcoming June 8. An inspired Jeremy Corbyn announced it Wednesday.
The party leader is increasingly at ease in managing high-rate audiovisual situations. The event took place in a symbolic place of English Socialism, the Bradford University in Yorkshire, a working-class city with a large Muslim community, the birthplace of Harold Wilson, Labor prime Minister twice (in 1964-70 and 1974-76).
It’s an electoral program full of hope “for the many and not the few,” with a slogan that does not revolve around things, like the rest of the document. To give “hope and opportunity” to every generation in a country where seven years of Conservative government cut taxes to the elite and reduced subsidies to millions of families in need. “This manifesto is for you,” said Corbyn.
He then displayed a textbook economic planning program as if he were a Social Democratic Finance Minister: end the scandal of the zero-hour contracts; inflation adjustable pensions protected; cancellation of tuition fees (increased to £9,000 per year by the Tory-Libdem coalition); salary cuts to the sky high salaries of top managers; nationalization of railways, electricity, mail service and water companies (privatized by Thatcher in 1989, there are now nine water companies in England alone); unconditional support to public health; the hiring of more police and firefighters to remedy the austerity cuts; reintroduction of subsidies to families and many other delights. The nationalization of railways and the cancellation of tuition fees were celebrated with the longest applause.
Everything will be paid with a tax slapped on the healthy cheeks of the wealthy: increase of income tax and corporate earnings (the latter of 26 percent) and a serious commitment to fight tax evasion. A “radical and responsible” program which asks “the rich and big companies to pay a little more.” Such fiscal pressure has not been seen in Western economies since the ‘70s. This is how the party aims to raise the £86.4 billion to cover the total costs of these reforms.
This is the first manifesto of what we now call the New Old Labour. It marks the belated and fortuitous salvage of a party that, for too long had been screwed into a center-centric spiral, and suddenly remembered what it is. It is complicit in a series of spectacular social inequalities that finally this country is questioning seriously, although the drama of today’s policy remains the Brexit strategy (or lack thereof).
On the latter, Corbyn — who did everything in his power to provide a cohesive interpretation of the problem for his party — will ensure an exit from the E.U. that protects labor rights, seeking an agreement with Brussels to maintain access to the single market and the guarantee of the rights of their citizens. The free movement of labor will end, but “in the fair way.” A sacred sponge off to Blairism in the sign of the comeback of the old class struggle, which is legitimized after 50 years of exile.
Theresa May, too, who has focused on herself and not on the campaign of her Tory party, was quick to snatch (badly) the Labourist rhetoric and even certain remedies. Last Monday, she was bitterly contested by a disabled woman in one of the few election meetings without the usual smiling Praetorian Guard.
Corbyn’s thank you to the economic migrants who work in the public sector was much applauded, as well as the rereading of the much abused concept of national interest. This was the last seal on a manifesto that so far has been widely, positively received: “Our country can only succeed if each of us does,” said Corbyn.
The society that Thatcher had kicked out the door is climbing back through the window.
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