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Labour's 2017 general election manifesto - the winners and losers at a glance

Parents with young children get more support, but hereditary lords should watch their ermine-covered backs. 

The Labour manifesto is finally here - the real one, not the almost identical draft copy which was leaked last week. Carcrash interviews aside, Labour is proud that it has come up with a set of policies it believes can be fully costed. But if policies are fully costed, that means there's likely to be some tax hikes, and that means there are losers as well. 

There are ambitious plans for a "National Education Service" which caters for learners from the cradle to grave, and a "National Care Service" which is integrated with the NHS. 

Then there's what isn't included. Labour backed Remain in the EU referendum, but accepts Brexit. For all its carefully costed plans, there is no explanation of what happens if negotiations break down and tariffs and supply chain glitches send the economy into a tailspin. 

But, for now, what would a Labour government look like under Jeremy Corbyn? Here are the winners and losers at a glance:


Small businesses

Labour will cut tax on profits for small businesses and scrap plans to report profits on a quarterly basis. It will create a series of banks to make credit more available. And it will use its own clout as a government to only use contract bidders that pay small businesses on time. 

Northern travellers

Labour will complete the HS2 high speed rail so that it connects London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, and extend it into Scotland. It will also invest in key commuter routes that link London to the South East. 

Internet addicts

Labour promises to deliver universal superfast broadband by 2022, improve mobile internet coverage and make wifi free on public transport. 

Bill payers

Labour will cap energy bills so that the average bill does not exceed £1,000 a year and insulate four million homes. It will also move towards a nationally-owned energy industry.

EU nationals

Labour will guarantee EU nationals living in Britain their existing rights. 

Brits with a foreign spouse

Labour will replace the rule that Brits must earn £18,600 before a foreign spouse is allowed to join them in the UK. Instead, there will be “a prohibition on recourse to public funds” – although what that means is not exactly clear. 


Labour will scrap tuition fees, bring back maintenance grants, introduce free further education for all ages, reinstate the Education Maintenance Allowance for senior high school students from poorer backgrounds. Labour will also exclude international students from the official immigration figures. 

Self-employed workers

Labour will give all workers equal rights from day one, regardless of their type of contract, ban zero-hours contracts, and shift the burden of proof so the law assumes a worker is an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise. 

Workers treated unfairly

Labour will repeal the Trade Unions Act and guarantee trade unions a right to access workplaces. It will demand protections for workers when a company is taken over, strengthen protections for women against unfair redundancy, and increase scrutiny on the gender pay gap. It will also scrap fees for employment tribunals, which were introduced by the Coalition government, and increase protection against discrimination and harassment. 

Low-paid workers

Labour will encourage sectoral collective bargaining – where trade unions agree on a pay rise for a section of an industry – and raise the minimum wage to the level of the living wage (expected to be at least £10 an hour by 2020). It will end the cap on public sector pay rises, ban unpaid internships and require that government contractors have a 20:1 pay ratio between the highest paid and lowest paid workers. Labour will scrap the NHS pay cap.


Labour will propose four new public holidays to mark the four national patron saints’ days. So that’s 1 March (St David), 17 March (St Patrick), 23 April (St George), and 30 November (St Andrew). This will be in addition to statutory holiday. 


Labour will double paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase paternity pay, and extend maternity pay to 12 months. It will keep the commitment to free childcare and extend the 30 free hours to all two year olds. It will phase in additional subsidised childcare, and increase the funding available for the Sure Start programme. 


Labour will introduce a version of Scotland’s Debt Arrangement Scheme, in essence a respectable debt repayment plan (compared to the cowboys that rip you off at your darkest hour). 


Labour is committing to the triple lock - since 2010, the government has kept to a pledge to raise the state pension by 2.5 per cent, the rate of inflation, or average earnings, whatever is highest. It is also floating the idea of compensation for women caught out by changes to the state pension age. 

Benefits claimants

Labour will scrap the benefits sanctions regime, scrap the Bedroom Tax, reinstate housing benefit for under 21s, and reform and redesign Universal Credit, including getting rid of the “rape clause”. (This is the government’s plan to stop child tax credits for a third child and demand evidence for an exception when the woman was raped.) It will replace the work capability and personal independence payment assessments with “a personalised, holistic assessment”.


Labour will maintain the ban on letting agent fees, make tenancies three years long, and cap rent rises by the rate of inflation, draw up renter consumer rights, and give tenants the power to take action if the properties they rent are in poor condition. 


Labour will invest £3bn a year in building a National Care Service that is integrated with the NHS. It will cap personal contributions to care costs, raise the wealth threshold so more people are entitled to state support and provide free end of life care. 

Emergency services

Labour will halt cuts to the Fire Service and recruit 3,000 new firefighters. It will recruit 10,00 more police officers. 


Labour will scrap charges that force domestic abuse victims to pay for doctors for certification of their injuries. It will consider the reintroduction of legal aid. 

Unharmonious couples

Labour will introduce a no-fault divorce procedure. It will also scrap the married person’s tax allowance.


Labour will ensure the Premier League delivers on its promise to invest 5 per cent of its television rights income into the grassroots game to help the next generation of players and coaches, and to improve facilities and pitches.

Politically-minded teens

Labour will reduce the voting age to 16.

The bereaved

Labour will fund child burial fees for bereaved parents and scrap cuts to bereavement support.


Top earners

Labour has promised that it will not raise taxes for those earning below £80,000. For the 5 per cent above this threshold, however, it’s a different story. They will be “asked to contribute more in tax to help fund our public services”. Companies that pay employees ridiculously high salaries will have to pay a tax called an excessive pay levy. 

Global elites

Labour will reinstate the Migrant Impact Fund to support public services in areas facing pressure as a result of immigration. This will be funded by taking a cut of the investments made by individuals procuring High Net Worth Individual Visas (i.e. paying millions for a right to live in the UK). 

Slightly more middle-class parents

Labour will remove the VAT exemption on private school fees in order to introduce free school meals for all primary school kids, which are currently means tested. In other words, more middle-class parents will lose out to slightly less middle-class parents. 

Council tenants-turned-homeowners

Labour will suspend the right-to-buy policy, which allows council tenants to buy their homes at a discount, but has been blamed for reducing affordable housing. Councils can only resume sales if they can prove they have a plan to replace homes sold like-for-like.

Private healthcare users

Anyone paying for private medical insurance will have to pay a higher tax on their premium – the money will go to fund free parking at NHS hospitals for patients, staff and visitors. 

Hereditary lords

Labour will seek to reduce the size of the House of Lords and end the hereditary principle, which excludes all but an elite group of men from contesting certain seats. 


Labour opposes a second Scottish independence referendum. It will instead increase funding to the Scottish Parliament, and create a Scottish Investment Bank worth £20bn.

Tax dodgers

Labour will introduce an Offshore Company Property Levy on purchases of residential property by offshore trusts located in known tax havens, a similar tax to those practised in Toronto, Singapore and Hong Kong. It will also review existing tax relief arrangements and whether they are in the public interest. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

Photo: Getty
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Germany's election isn't about who will win, but who gets to join Merkel in government

Even small changes in vote share could affect who rules with the chancellor's CDU.

The leaves are falling and the ballot boxes are being given a final polish. It should be peak Wahlkampf. (Trust us Germans to have a word for "campaign" which sounds like something that should be barked by a soldier in a black-and-white film.)

Yet, instead of "peak campaign", with just days to go before polling day, we have an almost deadly dull one. Europe’s largest nation is being gripped by apathy. Even the politicians seem to have given up. Four years ago the then Social Democratic (SPD) challenger for chancellor, Peer Steinbrück, was so desperate to grab attention that he posed on a magazine front cover pulling the middle finger.

Instead Chancellor Merkel’s strategy of depoliticising the economic and social challenges Germany faces, and being endorsed as the steady mother of the nation, seems to once again be bearing fruit. Her Social Democratic contender has simply not been able to cut through.

So much so that for most voters the differences in policy agenda between Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and her main challenger Martin Schulz’s SPD are hard to detect. Not least because the SPD has spent the past four years serving under Merkel as the junior partner in a so-called "grand coalition". It doesn’t make it easy to distinguish yourself when you have just spent the last four years agreeing in cabinet.

This is dangerous and careless in an age of economic and political insecurities where voter volatility has reached new heights, and the radical right-wing AfD is forecast to get a vote share in double figures – a tally that would make it the third strongest party in the Bundestag.

It’s business as usual for Merkel who has copied the playbook that so successfully delivered three victories: picking no fights and managing expectations. Why change a winning formula? She wants to carry on chasing the political legacy of her hero Helmut Kohl by securing a fourth term in office.

Once again the "safety first" strategy is paying off. Her CDU/CSU is on course with the polls showing a solid 17 per cent lead over Martin Schulz and the SPD.

Merkel may be cruising to victory, but Germany’s proportional electoral system means that she won’t be able to govern alone. Which means the most exciting question in the German election isn’t who is going to win, but with whom is Merkel going to form another government. All eyes are on the different combinations of parties that would provide the chancellor with a new majority.

As it stands, it is very likely that for the first time ever, the Bundestag will be host to six political parties. More dauntingly, it will also be the first time since the Second World War that members of the radical right-wing will be sat in the chamber. Arguably, this political setback may be seen as a failure of moderate forces to find the right political solutions for the refugee and financial crisis – the AfD is essentially the offspring of both – but it is also part of a wider populist surge in Europe and North America.

This fragmentation of the party system in Germany will make it a challenging task for CDU/CSU to form a coalition. However, with the return of the liberal, and pretty unashamedly neo-liberal FDP, Merkel can potentially revert to a traditional centre-right ally. This would please those in her party who have been sceptical of her socio-economic move to the left, and blame her for the rise of the right-wing populists.

A report by the University of Mannheim provides us with a useful, if firmly scholarly, political version of those dating compatibility quizzes we all like to do in idle lunch hours. It finds that a coalition between the CDU/CSU and the FDP would be a natural match. They would agree on 20 out of 38 of the main policy issues in German politics. 

On which issues would coalition partners agree/disagree?

Only the other traditional “bloc coalition” between the SPD and Greens, which lifted Gerhard Schröder into the chancellery in 1998, would do better, matched on 24 issues overall. The study matches preferences on key economic, social, domestic and foreign policy of all major political parties and maps potential areas of conflict for all realistic coalition options. But polls currently show that neither of the naturally fitting centre-right or centre-left blocs would have enough seats to make a coalition work.

Which leaves three possible scenarios. The most intriguing would be the "Jamaica coalition" of the CDU, FDP and Greens (so called because the three party colours are the same as the Jamaican flag). Such an option has never been tried before at the federal level but is currently in power in Schleswig-Holstein. Alternatively, Merkel could follow the example of Saxony-Anhalt and try governing with her own CDU/CSU alongside both the SPD and the Greens. However, the new study finds that a three-way pact would be more prone to conflict and harder to negotiate than any of the two-party options.

More than two parties in a coalition would be an interesting novelty at the federal level, but disagreement on individual policy areas is expected to be considerably greater. The so-called "traffic-light-coalition" of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP would agree on 11 topics, yet disagree on 20 issues. And on top of issue-specific conflicts it would be more difficult to bridge ideological differences between parties at the different ends of the left-right dimension, as such between the SPD and FDP.

In the end it will all depend on how the numbers play out on election day this Sunday. The fact is that even minor shifts in voting behaviour from the current poll predictions would make a major difference to the options for government formation.

So, what should you look out for on election night? I would suggest keeping an eye on the liberals. What happens to the FDP’s vote share is crucial for whether they can return to their role as coalition queenmaker, after failing to jump the 5 per cent hurdle in 2013 and ending up with no seats. If the business-friendly liberals cannot deliver a majority for Merkel, the ball will be firmly back in the SPD’s court.

Gerhard Schröder used to say that a chicken is fat at the end (it makes more sense in German).

But if Schulz’s campaign does not pick up momentum in the closing hours of the campaign, and the Social Democrats' vote share collapses to around 20 per cent, its leaders will find it difficult to justify another grand coalition to SPD members.

They will likely be once again asked to endorse any grand coalition with the traditional conservative enemy in a one-member-one-vote ballot. Many inside the party fear that another four years as junior partners to the strategically astute Merkel could be the end of the road for the Social Democrats.

Florian Ranft is a senior researcher and adviser at Policy Network