Leftist party leader unveils radical policy platform
JEREMY CORBYN has released his policy platform in his bid to win the Labour leadership run-off against challenger Owen Smith MP.
The sitting leftwing leader is embroiled in his second leadership contest less than a year since he won a landslide result in September 2015.
Corbyn’s challenger, Smith, has also presented himself as being on the left of the party.
Though the party’s internal strife puts it far from power in the short term, Corbyn’s new policy platform positions him significantly to the left of the political mainstream, breaking with the decades-long dominance of pro-market economic thinking.
CommonSpace takes a look at some of Corbyn’s key ideas.
1. £500bn infrastructure investment
Corbyn is calling for the creation of a million “good jobs”, primarily through a massive £500bn investment in infrastructure projects.
The most recent Conservative budget promised £100bn in public sector investment over the lifetime of the parliament.
Corbyn’s opposition to austerity measures lies at the heart of his appeal to party members. Smith has pledged to continue with austerity measures, though is critical of the low level of Conservative public spending.
2. One million new homes
The platform also calls for one million new houses to be built in five years, with at least half of them being rented council houses.
At the 2015 General Election the Conservative government promised to establish a fund to build 400,000 new homes, half of which would have a discount for young buyers.
Other housing policies include a new charter of private tenants’ rights.
3. A new raft of workers’ rights
A ban on zero-hours contracts and a guaranteed right to collective bargaining in all workforces with 250 employees or more are flagship policies in a promised new raft of workers’ rights.
4. National Education Service
Corbyn’s manifesto calls for the re-organisation of the education system through a National Education Service with a focus on lifelong learning. The new agency would restore the principal of free education, although Corbyn has not so far proposed the abolition of tuition fees.
Education policy is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
5. Nationalise the railways
The manifesto restates Corbyn’s commitment to renationalising Britain’s rail network as part of a wider strategy to increase public ownership and democratic accountability in the UK economy.
Scotland’s rail network is owned by the Dutch corporation Abellio, and would not be nationalised under the plans.
6. Honour international treaties on nuclear weapons
The platform’s foreign policy section includes a pledge to honour the UK’s international agreements, including the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, commonly called the non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
Among many other stipulations, the NPT forbids the UK to manufacture new nuclear weapons.
The UK Government is committed to Trident renewal, with the new nuclear weapons system to be stationed at Faslane in Scotland. Corbyn’s opposition to Trident renewal, despite it being current Labour policy, has been a source of tension within the party.
7. Full rights for EU citizens in the UK
The policy platform calls for EU citizens to maintain their full rights for the duration of the UK’s negotiations for exiting the EU, so that they are not used as “pawns” during negotiations.
The platform also calls for greater UK involvement in alleviating the refugee crisis, though the nature of these efforts is not detailed.
The UK has currently pledged to take 20,000 refugees from refugee camps in the Middle East, but has not agreed to take in any of the two million refugees who have travelled to Europe since 2015.
8. An end to NHS privatisation
The platform calls for an end to privatisation in the NHS in England.
Through successive governments the involvement of many private healthcare companies including Virgin and Care UK has steadily expanded.
At the beginning of the 1990s, private firms were restricted to the provision of a small number of services within the NHS, including some mental health care and specialist surgery. Today, private firms are involved in providing an extensive range of NHS services.
It is not clear how much of this private sector involvement would be reversed under Corbyn’s plans, though the policy states that health services would be brought into a “secure, publicly provided NHS”.
The devolved Scottish NHS has not seen the same level of privatisation.
Picture courtesy of Plashing Vole
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