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10 May 2017

What does Labour’s leaked manifesto tell us about Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for Britain?

The draft document promises renationalisation for energy and rail, a Ministry for Labour - and good news for bees.

By Stephen Bush

Labour’s manifesto has leaked in its entirety to a series of newspapers, adding to the extracts already leaked to SchoolsWeek (on teachers’ collective pay bargaining) and the New Statesman (on a ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia).

The proposals are only a draft, which must be ratified by Labour’s ruling national executive committee at the party’s Clause V meeting at noon tomorrow to become official. However, the leadership is expected to pass the vast bulk of the manifesto unaltered. The only part that may appear radically different is the “Global Britain” section, which covers Trident, due to its sensitivity to Unite and GMB, who represent workers in the defence industry, and its emotional resonance for many on Labour’s traditional right.

So if this is a reliable guide to Labour’s intentions as a government, what is the country that Jeremy Corbyn is trying to build?

Trades unions will be restored to the heart of public life and policy, with a new Ministry of Labour and the restoration of collective bargaining across large swathes of the public realm. The freeze on public sector pay will also be overturned.

In addition, the reach of the state will be expanded for the first time since Gordon Brown’s government took the failed banks and the East Coast railway line into public ownership. The energy markets, railways and Royal Mail will all be renationalised under a Labour government. Private sector businesses with a role in providing public services, be that schools or hospitals, will be taken into the reach of the Freedom of Information Act.

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A new band of income tax will be introduced for people earning above £80,000 – between the band at £45,000 and the top rate at £150,000. This will be the first time that Labour has gone into the election on an explicit promise of tax-and-spend since 2005, and the first time the party has committed to raising income tax other than the top band since 1992.

Businesses will be asked to pay more corporation tax and to pay their lowest-paid workers more, with no company which undertakes public contracts allowed to pay its highest paid employee more than 20 times its lowest-paid worker.

The other big winner from the manifesto: animals. Action will be taken not just to protect bees, whose near-extinction threatens the future of crops, but to protect circus animals, prevent third-party sales of puppies and to halt the badger cull.