Labour have published their full manifesto, and it is substantiatively the same as the draft that leaked last week. There are, however, a few changes worth noting, as well as the tightening up of language. (Some loose phrases have been pruned for ambiguity, but I’m not going to go over those).
The biggest change in cost terms is the commitment to end tuition fees, which Labour puts at £11.2bn, the single most expensive measure in the manifesto. The biggest changes are in the attached costing document, which puts a figure on Labour’s spending commitments and identifies £50bn worth of tax rises to pay for them. Labour have also added further utility – water – to the list to be renationalised along with energy, the Royal Mail, the railways and buses. However, under John McDonnell’s fiscal rule, these are infrastructure, not day-to-day spending, so they don’t need to be funded out of existing tax rises.
The most significant change in terms of policy is the commitment to ending the free movement of people within the European Union, though Labour is still in “have cake and eat it mode”, in committing to retaining the full benefits of single market membership and ending the free movement of people. (You can have one, but not both.) That means that Labour will go into the election with their most restrictive policy on immigration since 1970 in fact, albeit one coupled with the most accepting tone towards migration since 1959, when Hugh Gaitskell went into the election opposing the government’s restrictions on Commonwealth immigration.
In a coup for Nia Griffith, the shadow defence secretary, the word “Nato” is now explicitly mentioned in the manifesto. The final text on Trident and defence has been considerably toughened; it is now more pro-Trident than that of Labour’s 2010 manifesto and about equal to its 2015 one.
In a surprising non-change, the commitment to an immediate ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, remains unaltered, despite some opposition from trades unions with members in the defence industries.