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Labour leaked manifesto: party considers ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia

The party's draft manifesto will include a pledge to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia. 

Labour will ban arms exports to Saudi Arabia until an investigation into their use in the Yemen is approved under proposals submitted to the party’s manifesto process, the New Statesman has learnt. Labour's foreign policy manifesto - Global Britain - also contains an extended critique of the United States government and will pledge an end to “unilateral” foreign interventions by the British government.

Under current proposals, the sale of arms will be halted until the inquiry includes, though the GMB, which represents workers in the defence industry, is likely to lobby for the sale to continue until the inquiry concludes in order to protect members’ jobs. Nia Griffith, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, is likely to weigh in behind them and has already inserted a mention of Nato into the “Global Britain” section of the manifesto, which covers foreign affairs, defence and development.

Labour’s manifesto, which is largely been written by Andrew Fisher, Jeremy Corbyn’s policy chief, will be debated, amended and approved by Labour’s national executive committee tomorrow morning at noon, with the meeting expected to run on until the early evening.

Most of the proposals will be the subject of little debate with the leadership expected to get its way on most issues. Defence, however, a totemic issue, as well as a bread-and-butter one for the GMB and Unite, who both represent workers in the defence industries.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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Tackling tuition fees may not be the vote-winner the government is hoping for

In theory, Theresa May is right to try to match Labour’s policy. But could it work?

Part of the art of politics is to increase the importance of the issues you win on and to decrease or neutralise the importance of the issues your opponent wins on. That's part of why Labour will continue to major on police cuts, as a device to make the usually Labour-unfriendly territory of security more perilous for the Tories.

One of the advantages the Conservatives have is that they are in government – I know it doesn't always look like it – and so they can do a lot more to decrease the importance of Labour's issues than the Opposition can do to theirs.

So the theory of Theresa May's big speech today on higher education funding and her announcement of a government review into the future of the university system is sound. Tuition fees are an area that Labour win on, so it makes sense to find a way to neutralise the issue.

Except there are a couple of problems with May's approach. The first is that she has managed to find a way to make a simple political question incredibly difficult for herself. The Labour offer is “no tuition fees”, so the Conservatives essentially either need to match that or move on. But the one option that has been left off the table is abolition, the only policy lever that could match Labour electorally.

The second, even bigger problem is that it it turns out that tuition fees might not have been the big election-moving event that we initially thought they were. The British Electoral Survey caused an earthquake of their own by finding that the “youthquake” – the increase in turn-out among 18-24-year-olds – never happened. Younger voters were decisive, both in how they switched to Labour and in the overall increase in turnout among younger voters, but it was in that slightly older 25-35 bracket (and indeed the 35-45 one as well) that the big action occurred.

There is an astonishingly powerful belief among the Conservative grassroots, such as it is, that Jeremy Corbyn's NME interview in which the he said that existing tuition fee debt would be “dealt with” was decisive. That belief, I'm told, extends all the way up to May's press chief, Robbie Gibb. Gibb is the subject of increasing concern among Tory MPs and ministers, who regularly ask journalists what they make of Robbie, if Robbie is doing alright, before revealing that they find his preoccupations – Venezuela, Corbyn's supposed pledge to abolish tuition fee debt – troublingly marginal.

Because the third problem is that any policy action on tuition fees comes at a huge cost to the Treasury, a cost that could be spent easing the pressures on the NHS, which could neutralise a Labour strength, or the financial strains on schools, another area of Labour strength. Both of which are of far greater concern to the average thirtysomething than what anyone says or does about tuition fees.

Small wonder that Team Corbyn are in an ebullient mood as Parliament returns from recess.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.