Support 110 years of independent journalism.

Labour’s 2015 manifesto lives on in the Conservative manifesto

Theresa May has smartly borrowed popular policies that Ed Miliband was not trusted to implement.

By George Eaton

In 2015, Labour endured its worst election defeat since 1987. Its manifesto, however, is enjoying more of an afterlife than this fate suggested. The Conservatives’ 2017 prospectus, as I wrote earlier, has several intellectual antecedents: Burke, Beveridge and Blue Labour. But it also bears unmistakable traces of the 2015 manifesto assembled by Ed Miliband’s team (including Blue Labourite Jonathan Rutherford, Resolution Foundation director Torsten Bell and New Economics Foundation chief executive Marc Stears).

Market interventionism was the red thread running through that document and it resurfaces in Theresa May’s programme. Miliband’s signature energy price freeze is echoed with a promise of a “safeguard tariff cap” to protect “energy customers from unacceptable rises”. Like Labour, the Conservatives also promise worker representation on company boards, a higher minimum wage and a new generation of council housing.

The party’s fiscal plans owe more to Ed Balls than George Osborne, promising only to eliminate the deficit by 2025 (a full decade later than Osborne aimed to) and leaving room to borrow for investment. The Tories have also adopted Labour’s proposed ban on letting agent fees and its means-testing of the Winter Fuel Allowance (in an enhanced form).

For Labour, the lesson is a salutary one. Though many of its policies had widespread appeal (not least to government ministers), the public did not trust it to implement them. Under Jeremy Corbyn, all the signs suggest that pattern is being repeated. Until a Labour leader is regarded as a future prime minister, and the party is trusted to manage the economy, Nixon will continue to go to China. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action