A draft of the Labour Party’s election manifesto was leaked yesterday. The document, which was due to be released next week, includes plans to scrap tuition fees, invest an extra £6 billion into the National Health Service (NHS) and reserve a further 4,000 homes for rough sleepers.
The manifesto proposes to abolish tuition fees and reintroduce maintenance grants, stating that “university tuition is free in many northern European countries, and under a Labour government it will be free in Britain too.” It has also proposed to make Further Education free for any age group.
This comes after shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told an audience in Mansfield: “Just as the Attlee government with Nye Bevan introduced the National Health Service, we want to introduce a national education service.”
After the leak, which he called “disappointing,” Mr McDonnell added that once the manifesto is officially released, “every policy will have a costing and a funding source identified.” In the meantime, Labour have announced that public services would be funded by an increased income tax for the top five percent of earners.
As well as highlighting the importance of immigration to the economy, the manifesto states that a Labour government would “welcome international students who benefit and strengthen our education sector.”
“They now generate more than £25 billion for the British economy and provide a significant boost to regional jobs and local businesses.”
It states the party’s intention to preserve the UK’s membership within Horizon 2020, Euratom, the European Medicines Agency and Erasmus.
The document adds that Labour accepts the results of the EU referendum, but intends to replace the Conservatives’ “hard Brexit” provisions with “fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the single market and the Customs Union.”
It states that Labour would immediately guarantee the current rights of the three million EU citizens living in the UK and safeguard the reciprocal rights of the 1.2 million British nationals living in Europe.
It also reaffirms Labour’s commitment to “uphold all our responsibilities under the Refugee Convention and offer a safe haven to those fleeing from persecution and war.”
Concerning homelessness, the manifesto pledges to end rough sleeping, starting by immediately making available 4,000 additional homes for people with a history of rough sleeping, as well as safeguarding funding for homelessness hostels and housing benefits.
This comes after Jeremy Corbyn called the issue a “number one priority” in a speech outside the Leamington Town Hall earlier this week.
The speech also featured Labour policy on mental health, which the manifesto calls “the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age.”
It notes that while one in four people in the UK experience mental health issues each year, mental health budgets have been “raided” and the number of mental health nurses cut by 6,600. The manifesto proposed to counter this by investing £90m a year in early intervention and by extending counselling services to make them available in all secondary schools.
It also proposes to reduce the voting age to 16 and extend extend the Freedom of Information Act to private companies, provided they offer public services.
Labour national campaigns co-ordinator Andrew Gwynne said that the leaked document was not an official manifesto but a draft of ideas, which is still to be approved by the Labour shadow cabinet and National Executive Committee.
Warwick Labour commented on the tuition fees provision: “We’re happy Labour is keeping students’ interests at heart.”
Warwick Conservative Association took a critical approach, stating: “The leaked Labour manifesto perfectly surmises everything this country doesn’t need. It harks back to failed 70’s ideas, panders to overtly aggressive unions and digs up the past.
“The fact Labour are even now at war over who leaked it shows they can’t run their own party, let alone be handed the reins of the country on the 8th of June.”