Jeremy Corbyn unveiled his new Labour Party manifesto this morning, so what's in it?
PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:
So, this morning Labour put forward what it says is the most radical set of manifesto commitments in decades, which it says will 'transform' the UK.
And, having listened to the sales pitch from Mr Corbyn this morning, his manifesto could well appeal to many wavering voters looking for a release from all the talk centred on Brexit, while being offered what they see as solutions to their own day to day problems.
Which is of course exactly what this manifesto is designed to do.
And a lot of those people will not be averse to hearing that there will be good things for everybody and someone else will be paying.
So how radical is this 105 page manifesto? And when looking at it bear in mind the words of Labour candidate Jess Phillips talking to good morning Britain, when she said:
"…you can never, ever deliver all of those things you're pretending that you can deliver when you go to the electorate and look, in reality, things change, globally things change and situations change, facts change -…"
Well, let's have a look at this manifesto – and for a start, if the Labour Party wins this election on the 12th of December, then the next election, or referendum, to take place will have a far wider electorate than this one.
Under the manifesto section on 'Constitutional Issues' at page 82, where it talks about abolishing the House of Lords and banning MPs from having second jobs except to maintain professional qualifications, it also says:
"We will oversee the largest extension of the franchise in generations, reducing the voting age to 16, giving full voting rights to all UK residents, making sure everyone who is entitled to vote can do so by introducing a system of automatic voter registration, and abandoning plans to introduce voter ID which has been shown to harm democratic rights."
Now, that reference to 'all UK residents' obviously means anyone from anywhere in the world who lives here! Not just UK nationals and any others who currently qualify.
Now that is a huge constitutional change! And you also have to wonder whether it will also include any 'resident' having the ability to stand for election as well.
Now, a lot of the manifesto is committed to a 'green transformation' of the economy and the aim of getting the country to "achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030". Note that the talk of achieving zero carbon by then has gone.
And it does, of course, feature the words 'the many not the few', several times.
Some of the highlights are:
The big ones of nationalisation of Royal mail, energy, water, the bus services and some parts of BT.
Introducing a National Education Service and scrapping tuition fees, that one again eh?
Levying a windfall tax on oil companies, with a figure of £11 billion being bandied about. But one assumes they'd have to somehow cap fuel costs to stop this being passed on to the consumer.
Upgrading almost all the UK's 27 million homes to the highest energy efficiency standards. I wonder if that includes grade 1 and 2 listed buildings?
Building at least 150,000 council and social homes a year by the end of the parliamentary term.
Increasing the minimum wage to £10 an hour and calling it a 'real living wage'.
Upping public sector pay by 5%, followed by year on year above inflation pay rises.
Taxing second homes.
Putting VAT on private schools.
Spending 2% of the UK gross domestic product (GDP) on defence and renewing Trident. I had wondered about Labour commitment to defence.
Maintaining a spend of 0.7% of UK gross national income (GNI) on foreign aid.
Corporation tax cuts will be reversed, but the rate will be kept below that of 2010, which was 28%.
Income tax and national insurance rates will be frozen, but those on over £80,000 a year, will pay more.
Financial transactions will also be taxed.
Then there's free dental check-ups, but bear in mind that I think any subsequent treatment would have to be paid for.
And free fibre broadband.
And what would a Labour Party manifesto be without the phrase "Our urgent priority is to end NHS privatisation".
Anyone remember PFI?
And paid maternity leave will increase from nine months to a full year.
There will also be a right for all workers to request flexible working hours from day one.
Oh and of course getting Brexit sorted in six months. ending with a final say for the public but not saying which side he would be on.
Now, d'you remember the pledge to open up voting to all 'UK residents' that I mentioned just a moment ago?
There are many, many more promises with the whole lot aimed at pleasing as many people as possible while saying 'someone else will pay' – for now!
Companies might find this manifesto very onerous on them. Not just in tax matters but also in the extra reporting requirements for those with over 250 employees.
And where gender equality is concerned, by the end of 2020 all companies with 50 or more employees will have to "…obtain government certification on gender equality or face further auditing and fines".
Now, many people, especially those in the Tory camp, will dismiss this document as manifestly undeliverable.
And Jeremy Corbyn has tried to head this off, by starting his speech today by saying that the wealthy few will be telling everyone how impossible it would be to deliver, because they were afraid of changes to the system that was 'rigged in their favour'.
"Over the next three weeks," he said, "they will tell you that everything in this manifesto is impossible because they do not want real change in this country."
But as I said earlier, it could well appeal to those who work at the sharp end who feel left behind and taken advantage of by those very same rich people telling them how bad that manifesto is.
So it will be interesting to see the movement in polling numbers in the coming days.
But, the head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) Paul Johnson, told ITV News political correspondent, Daniel Hewitt, that:
"It's impossible to overstate just how extraordinary this manifesto is, in terms of the sheer scale of money being spent and raised through the tax system."
And he also said:
"Hundreds of billions of additional spending on investment, £80 billion plus per year on spending on day-to-day things; social security, spending on the NHS, student loans and so on. And matched by, supposedly, an £80 billion increase in tax."
"Now you can talk about tens, hundreds of billions of pounds… take it from me, these are vast numbers – enormous, colossal, in the context of anything we've seen in the last…ever…really."
And he also said that it was 'simply not credible' to raise £80 billion a year in tax from companies and high earners as suggested by the Labour manifesto. We will all, collectively, have to pay for it, he said.
And commenting on the proposal to tax financial transactions, the chief executive of the Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (PIMFA), Liz Field, warned that the additional costs inherent in the introduction of a financial transaction tax will ultimately be passed on to the consumer, saying:
"Whilst we understand the logic behind these proposals, we believe that they are ultimately based on an outmoded caricature of those who operate in financial services.
"Ultimately, were Labour to bring in a financial transaction tax, the additional costs would end up being passed on to individual retail investors. We believe this runs counter to the broader aims of the Labour manifesto.
"PIMFA has campaigned for the removal of Stamp Duty Reserve Tax and, before that, Stamp Duty for many years.
"The introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax, where both purchase and sale transactions attract a duty, is in our view a step in the wrong direction, away from encouraging retail share ownership. Whilst we welcome many of the proposals set out in this manifesto, this is ultimately one which benefits the few rather than the many."
So by the sounds of it, once they've soaked the rich, then the rest of us had better gird our loins to cough up our hard earned readies in short order.