July 19, 2024

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General election 2024: Labour’s manifesto is about creating wealth, says Keir Starmer

General election 2024: Labour’s manifesto is about creating wealth, says Keir Starmer

  • author, Paul Seddon
  • Role, Political reporter

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said wealth creation would be the “number one priority” in his party’s general election manifesto.

The document, which sets out what Labor will do in government if Sir Keir becomes Prime Minister after July 4, will be unveiled later on Thursday.

Sir Keir stressed there would be “no surprises” on tax, as he sought to defuse possible Tory attacks on his party.

“I think people are already being taxed too much,” he said in an exclusive interview with Sky News about the election. “What I want to do, my central mission, is grow the economy.”

He said that only by developing the economy could the Labor Party generate the funds needed for public services.

The launch of the statement will be an opportunity for the Labor Party to showcase the key policies it has already announced before the start of the election campaign.

These measures include creating a new state-owned energy investment and generation company, hiring more police officers, and renationalizing almost all passenger railways.

But the party can also provide more details in other priority areas such as planning reform, which it has placed at the forefront of its economic plans.

Ahead of the launch, Sir Keir said wealth creation is “our number one priority” and “growth is our core business”.

He said that “projects worth billions and billions” could be freed up through changes in investment rules and the planning system, but they are currently “hindered by obstacles to ambition.”

The Labor manifesto was signed at a party meeting last week, but failed to gain the support of Unite, its biggest union backer, which says the party’s scaled-back plans to improve workers’ rights are not enough.

The package, first unveiled in 2021, will remove eligible times for parental leave and sick pay rights when employees start a new job, and promote flexible working rights where “reasonably possible”.

But in particular, the pledge to introduce collective wage bargaining “across the economy” has been replaced by a plan to “start” introducing the Fair Pay Agreement in the adult social care sector, ahead of its potential application in other areas.

Other policies expected to appear in the statement include:

  • Introducing free breakfast clubs in primary schools in England
  • Children under 16 years old in England are banned from buying energy drinks that contain a high percentage of caffeine
  • £1.6 billion to pay for more appointments in NHS hospitals, new CT scan machines and additional dentist appointments.

Labor has long argued that growth is the only responsible way to generate additional funding for public services, and says it wants to make the UK the fastest growing economy in the G7 if it wins power.

These include £140 million to convert 3,300 classrooms into nurseries, paid for by VAT on private school fees, and £320 million to fix potholes, funded by the postponement of a new bypass of the A27 in Sussex.

Sir Keir took the unusual step of calling out his predecessor to attack the Conservative Party’s election pledges to cut taxes, accusing it of a “Jeremy Corbyn-style statement” in which “none of it was appreciated”.

Labor has ruled out increasing rates of income tax, national insurance or value-added tax, which will be presented in the manifesto as “tax insurance” for voters.

She has also ruled out increasing the headline rate of corporation tax, which companies pay on their profits, in an attempt to burnish their pro-business credentials.

But he did not make the same commitment regarding capital gains tax, which is levied on profits from the sale of assets, saying instead that his official plans do not “require” an increase.

If you expect surprises from the Labor Party, don’t.

It doesn’t look like there will be anything. This would be a statement that seeks to reassure, rather than reveal.

In order to unite efforts, as the party hopes, the “missions” assigned to Sir Keir’s government during the past eighteen months, which focused on the economy, education, crime, health and energy, were fleshed out.

Labor insists it lives up to the foundations of what it calls a “decade of national renewal.”

As the Conservatives seek to draw a line with Labor over tax cuts, Sir Keir will respond by rejecting the tax-and-spend instinct. Instead, developing the economy is its central goal.

However, this may be more difficult to achieve.

We’re told the statement is about 23,000 words long – that’s shorter than their ill-fated 2019 show.

And if you’re not sure what Sir Keir will look like if you start reading it, you eventually will – there are 34 pictures of him inside the book.