Your Response to Labour’s Manifesto When the Labour Party released its election manifesto for 2010 there were more than just a few Conservative researchers poring over it – we published it in a clear format online that enabled anyone to send us annotations on any statement within it. It was a great success and helped us to identify some of the spin more quickly than we would have otherwise. Here are just twenty representative examples of the comments that came through. The first statement in each case is the one in Labour’s manifesto marked with the relevant section number, followed by one example of feedback that we got on it.
¾ Labour manifesto 0:6 “Tough choices on cutting government overheads: £11 billion of further operational efficiencies and other cross-cutting savings to streamline government will be delivered by 2012-13.” Reader’s comment: So we accept there are inefficiencies, but don't want to start dealing with them for two years?
¾ Labour manifesto 0:6 “...and one penny on National Insurance Contributions” Reader’s comment: Sounds small but is more significant as a percentage.
¾ Labour manifesto 1:2 “...and as we pay down the deficit” Reader’s comment: You pay down debt, you reduce a deficit. This semantic word play has been a perennial feature of Labour's economic vocabulary so far. It is very misleading.
¾ Labour manifesto 1:2 “The engine of growth is private enterprise: we will give business our full support in creating wealth and jobs.” Reader’s comment: Hardly chimes with raising national insurance does it?
¾ Labour manifesto 1:3 “The huge global recession and our efforts to counter it” Reader’s comment: How many times have they said "global" now? Our huge deficit is the result of 13 years of economic recklessness. Other countries (France, Germany) are already well on the way to recovery, with public services being harmed very little.
¾ Labour manifesto 1:4 “...but there will be no return to the excesses of the past – banks will face tighter regulation.” Reader’s comment: Gordon Brown to CBI: “no inspection without justification, no form filling without justification, and no information requirements without justification, not just a light touch but a limited touch.”
¾ Labour manifesto 1:6 “...giving virtually every household in the country a broadband service of at least two megabytes per second by 2012” Reader’s comment: This is absolutely plain wrong - and shows that for all of Labour's talk on "digital economy" and "online services" they have a real difficulty in grasping the technical details. Broadband speed is generally measured in megabits per second, not megabytes per second. A speed of two megabytes/second would be equal to sixteen megabits/second. It is just not possible to roll out that speed everywhere within less than 2 years. They meant "two megabits per second", one eighth of what the manifesto claims.
¾ Labour manifesto 2:2 “No stamp duty for first-time buyers on all house purchases below £250,000 for two years...” Reader’s comment: A great Conservative Party idea.
¾ Labour manifesto 2:4 “We have done all we can to keep mortgage rates low – at 0.5 per cent during this recession compared to 15 per cent in the 1990s.” Reader’s comment: 0.5% isn't an appropriate figure for mortgage rates. It's the Bank of England base rate. Most people actually pay more than this because they're paying a fixed rate, or have entered into a new mortgage
deal (which typically charges 5% or so). Also Bank of England base rates are set by the independent Monetary Policy Committee, not the government. ¾ Labour manifesto 2:4 “Council Tax increases have fallen to their lowest ever rate and we expect them to stay low” However Council Tax has doubled since 1997, an overall annual increase of 5.5%, or double inflation. ¾ Labour manifesto 4:3“As we complete programme of hospital building...”
Reader’s comment: “[It is] lamentable that this once in a lifetime investment opportunity is being squandered in front of our eyes, leaving the NHS with cuts in services and staff and unable to afford cancer treatments available in other countries,” General Practitioners Committee of the BMA, Chaand Nagpaul.
¾ Labour manifesto 4:4“The GP access guarantee will ensure everyone has the right to choose a GP in their area offering evening and weekend opening.” Reader’s comment: Haven’t they promised this before?
¾ Labour manifesto 4.2 “Protecting the NHS and investing in the front line” Reader’s comment: Usually when making an investment you get an equivalent or greater than return. NHS productivity has been falling year on year.
¾ Labour manifesto 5:2 “But people are still worried about binge drinking...” Reader’s comment: Nothing to do with Labour deregulating the drinking laws affecting every City in the country.
¾ Labour manifesto 5:2 “Provide the funding to maintain police and PCSO numbers with neighbourhood police teams in every area, spending 80 per cent of their time on the beat visible in their neighbourhood.”
Reader’s comment: Isn't this the same pledge that Advertising Standards told them was not allowed? ¾ Labour manifesto 6:2 “A new Toddler Tax Credit of £4 a week from 2012 to give more support to all parents of young children” Reader’s comment: Hypocrisy alert - £4 a week is a lot when it is a Toddler tax credit, but £3 a week is a paltry amount when it recognises marriage. ¾ Labour manifesto 9:1 “A new politics: Renewing our democracy and rebuilding trust” Reader’s comment: “We will clean up politics. Reform of party funding to end sleaze” (Labour 1997 manifesto) ¾ Labour manifesto 9:2 “Referenda, held on the same day, for moving to the Alternative Vote for elections to the House of Commons and to a democratic and accountable Second Chamber.” Reader’s comment: "I'd love to Paddy, but I can't get it past Gordon" (Blair to Ashdown re: electoral reform). Why has Brown, the traditional roadblock to reforms suddenly changed his tune? ¾ Labour manifesto 9:4 “We reject using this as an excuse to gerrymander constituency boundaries in the interests of one political party.” Reader’s comment: Currently Labour votes count more than Tory votes. Correcting an imbalance is not gerrymandering
¾ Labour manifesto 10:3 “Defence spending has increased by ten per cent in real terms since 1997.” Reader’s comment: There may have been an increase however the use of the term real terms is misleading as armed forces inflation (e.g. salaries, cost of new technology) is likely to have increased by more than RPI. Also the demands put on the forces have increased greatly (two wars at least and one ongoing!)