Live: Labour’s manifesto launch, Birmingham
Brown just summed up by referring again to Labour as the party of the future — a word he has used a lot today, following his joke at prime minister’s questions last week that David Cameron “was the future once”. That’s it for now — the launch is over, with no slip ups despite some fairly tough questions from the media. Brown was on better form in the q&a than during his speech, and can be pleased with the way today’s event, a rather strange mix of activists and media, went. There were strong contributions from Johnson and Darling; it was perhaps surprising that Ed Miliband, who masterminded the manifesto, did not speak. Anyway, Labour has set its stall. Tomorrow it’s the Tories’ turn. The campaign proper has kicked off and the fight is on.
It looked like Peter Mandelson just declined an invitation by Brown to add a few words, but he is clapping now as Brown says he is proud of what Tony Blair achieved, when asked if the manifesto can be summed up as “Blairite”.
Brown sounds like a real Labour politician: asked if Labour is the party of the middle class, Brown says his is the party of people with “middle and modest incomes” and says he cannot understand how in a “modern election” the Tories can propose an inheritence tax cut for the 3000 richest estates in the country.
Labour activists have now booed the man from the Sun, too. He laughed — as did Brown.
Brown: “We never wanted to be the main owners of Royal Bank of Scotland…Northern Rock…HBOS…We will gradually move [them] back into the private sector…and every single penny of money that has gone from the public to help the banks, will be returned to the people of this country”.
Patrick Wintour of the Guardian has spotted that Labour’s manifesto talks of immigration not rising. The Tories are likely to ask how that is different to their cap, but Brown claims that the points system is the fairer way. Johnson adds that no unskilled worker from outside the EU can come in. This rhetoric may be popular or populist, but it is unfortunate.
Alistair Darling has got up to point out that the Tories have modeled their bank reform on the Swedish model, but the Swedish system is much more “insulated” whereas ours is gloobal. Darling praises “Gordon’s influence” with other ministers around the world.
Alan Johnson has just been on his feet defending Labour’s plans for the police, forces of which can be replaced if they under-perform. “I’m not sure I can improve on your perfect answer, Prime Minister.”
Despite the scatty speech, it has to be said that Brown is on particularly confident form today.
Brown defends income tax rise after world financial crisis but says he did not want to do it.
Gary Gibbon, of Channel 4, says the manifesto indicates VAT will go up. That would be a victory for Ed Balls, some claim. Brown says the message is the same as in the past elections since 1997 and that Labour has not raised VAT. He says the Tories sums do not add up without VAT rises, and repeatedly dismissing the Tories’ “four page flimsy document that does not add up.”
Boulton of Sky claims that launching election events at hospitals is against electoral guidelines. Brown says he knows this is a Tory line and they are “texting around the place” pushing this line. Gets round of applause.
BBC’s Nick Robinson just got jeered by Labour loyalists after asking a long-ish question which included the claim that “everyone” knows that the UK needs government to do “less”. Brown tells them to stop and offers a confident answer which attacks the Tories for defending hereditory peers.
Conclusion: Brown’s speech was a little scatty — seemed to jump about from the economy to political reform, back and forth. But it was substantial, and it was thoroughly New Labour.
Brown: “Which is the party of the family promising to protect child tax credits, Surestart, trust funds?…Which is the party of growth and jobs?…Which is the party of political reform, offering more democratic change than for 100 years? The answer is New Labour — the plan for the future…The future will be Conservative or progressive — but it will not be both.”
Brown pledges new politics — voting reform, voting from age 16, and right of recall.
Brown says Labour will be “unafraid” to take on unbridled markets; promises a bigger “middle class” than ever.
Brown appears finally to be willing to talk the talk of fairness when it comes to banks, and an international banking tax, calling for “responsibility” in the board rooms. Receives first round of applause for that.
Brown: “You, the British people, will be better off.” Refers to Andrew Adonis’s high speed rail project.
Brown: “We are in the future business”. Touches on Afghanistan — links it to 9-11 — and financial crisis: “get the big decisions right now and we can renew our society and our politics too.” Three fundamental questions answered in manifesto: 1. How do we rebuild economy. 2. How to we protect and reform front-line public services. 3. “How do we write anew the contract of trust” between people and politicians.
Brown: Britain to be a “fairer, greener, more accountable and more prosperous country” under Labour’s plans.
Harriet Harman has just thanked Ellie and handed over to Gordon Brown. “In 1997 New Labour asked the country for the opportunioty to renew Britain…Now in a changed time, New Labour is once again ready and equipped..Look at what together we have built.” Interesting use of “New Labour”.
Labour has just launched this animated film. Bit surreal. But it may work.
Wow — Bevanite Ellie, the blogger, kicks off Labour’s manifesto launch.
Brown, in pink tie, arriving with his wife Sarah.
Yvette Cooper seems to have been promoted from the “second division” — she is standing next to Peter Mandelson
Douglas Alexander arriving along side Alistair Darling and Ed Balls, who appear to be getting on just fine.
Harriet harman, Peter Mandelson, Ed Miliband, Alan Johnson among the last Cabinet ministers making their way into the launch.
Tories driving buses outside launch with the negative posters about Gordon Brown’s alleged broken promises.
Manifesto to be launched on computer memory sticks which will apparently be handed out at the launch.
Cabinet ministers arriving for launch.
Maybe there are still some rules left in British politics. Cameron tied up his chat to the Fullers brewery in Chiswick in decent time for Labour’s manifesto.
11.18: Exclusive from labour launch — new toddler tax credit
There will be in the manifesto ” a new toddler tax credit of £4 per week from 2012 to give more support to all parents of young children — whether they want to stay at home or work.”
11.17: Exclusive from Labour launch – the multi-media campaign
There will be a range of multi-media tools launched at Labour’s manifesto launch shortly in Birmingham, made available and distributed to Labour activists to fight a modern campaign. This will go alongside a ten chapter written manifesto document. Video films will form a key part of the launch.
11.06 – Bookies’ odds
Brown and David Cameron are 5-1 not to shake hands during the leaders debate on Thursday, according to Ladbrokes. 33-1 odds on a party leader “storming off”.
11.05 – Tories
David Cameron is speaking at a Fullers brewery in Chiswick. He says economy big issue of campaign. yet again emphasises the “crazy” move to “put a tax on jobs” — “it would be a jobs killer, a recovery killer, an economy killer.”
Cameron had a sip of London pride — before lunchtime too!
Cameron asked if he prefers lager or ale. He says bitter.
Cameron makes case for repatriating powers from the EU.
One senior Labour strategist says the party will be focusing its attacks not on Osborne but on Cameron (see below).
As the party prepares to launch it’s manifesto, Labour insiders saying that in fact, they see David Cameron and not George Osborne as the Tories’ “weakest link”. Some insight into this on Alastair Campbell’s latest blog post.
SNP leader Alex Salmond is launching his manifesto in Edinburgh. “House of Commons held in wide disrepute.”
David Miliband is doing his bit against the Tories having now written for the fourth time to his shadow, William Hague, about Lord Ashcroft.
10.19 | The “Blairite” Mainifesto
Today is arguably the most important day for the Labour party since 1997. It will be launching its manifesto at the University Hospital in Birmingham — a manifesto aimed at winning back Middle England in this crucial fight for an unlikely fourth term. You can follow some of the day’s events in this space.
From what we are picking up from the manifesto launch today, it will be classic New Labour. A Labour blogger will kick things off, followed by a video and talks by Harriet Harman and Gordon Brown, with all the key ministers present. A Future Fair for All will be the theme, though there will be hardly any new investments promised, while all hospitals will head towards becoming NHS Trusts and failing failing schools and police as well as hospitals will be vulnerable to take-over under Labour’s new plans.
There is a Blairite feel to the manifesto, with a tough approach to crime and anti social behaviour orders, specifically briefed to the Telegraph this morning. And if there is any kind of division in Cabinet, it is between so-called Blairites and traditional Brownites who feel marginalised. They did, however, secure one victory — in killing off the commitment to an AV referendum with the Tories during the parliamentary wash up. Some of the more progressive ministers are furious at that. Now Labour will need to present a united front.
Here, meanwhile, are some key points from the manifesto, as briefed to the Telegraph.
– New powers to replace the management teams of underperforming police forces or basic command units, which could in exceptional cases allow the Home Secretary to authorise a merger with a better-performing force.
– Measures to tackle anti-social behaviour, including a guaranteed 24-hour response to complaints and new rights of redress for victims.
– Parents could vote to change the leadership of schools through ballots
– Making all hospitals Foundation Trusts by giving those which already have the status new support and incentives to take over others which are underperforming.
– Plans to claw back some of the cost of prisons from wealthy offenders.
– Migrants seeking front line public sector jobs, including as call centre workers and social workers, must pass an English language test.
– New planning powers to reject lap dancing clubs and clusters of betting offices on the high street.
– A promise to create one million more skilled jobs and 70,000 skilled apprenticeships, introduce a National Care Service and a Green Investment Bank and modernise the UK’s infrastructure with high-speed rail and broadband access for all.
– To guarantee a job for under-25s after 10 months out of work and over-25s after two years. If the job is turned down they will lose benefits such as jobseekers allowance.
– A promise to increase paternity leave to four weeks.
– Plans to increase the minimum wage.
– Political reforms including the right to recall errant MPs, referendums not only on voting reform for general elections but also on a democratic second chamber and a free vote in Parliament on votes at 16.
– A pledge to give cancer patients tests within a week of seeing their doctor .
– No big new spending plans but a promise to use “every penny wisely”.
– A pledge not to raise income tax rates.