Labour manifesto 2017: What the papers say

Corbyn's proposals labelled 'most radical for years' - but is that enough to win voters?

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn unveils Labour's manifesto
(Image credit: Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Labour today launched "the most radical manifesto we have seen for many years", said the BBC's Norman Smith, adding: "It's not just a halt to austerity, but reversing austerity."

At a glance, the party's vision for the country includes scrapping tuition fees and zero-hours contracts, renewing Trident, building 100,000 new council houses per year and renationalising the UK rail network, energy and water companies and Royal Mail.

With Labour far behind in the opinion polls, the manifesto is "a key moment for [Jeremy] Corbyn to try to claw back public support from a resurgent Conservative party", says the Financial Times's Jim Pickard.

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According to the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg, the party leader is attempting to do just that, "taking the Labour Party in this election to a very different place - away from the recent consensus that the UK should be moving to lower borrowing, and lower taxation".

She adds: "The manifesto spells out a vision, for good or for ill, of more spending, more tax, and more borrowing."

But there is "a very big assumption in Labour’s figures: that when you raise taxes you get all the extra revenue that you would expect to receive," says Ross Clark in The Spectator.

"The reality, of course, is that when you raise taxes you change people’s behaviour which might lead to them paying less tax."

John Rentoul of The Independent also questions the costing given, tweeting:

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Labour's manifesto "sketches out a picture of Britain in which the size of the state is bigger than at any time since the 1980s", says Larry Elliott in The Guardian.

It's born out of the fact the party "believes that the failure of the Conservatives to get the budget deficit down despite year after year of austerity has made it possible to make the case for a different approach," he adds.

This approach would see shadow chancellor John McDonnell "take advantage of low interest rates to borrow to invest".

In an article headlined: "What the hell is Labour's Brexit policy part #1,467?", Ian Dunt, editor of says the most interesting insight to be taken from the manifesto is on the UK's membership of the single market.

"It's clear that Labour wants to leave the single market, this time with no caveats and no attempt to renegotiate membership beforehand," he writes.

Where the manifesto pledges a white paper on how Labour would go about retaining the benefits of the single market, it "implicitly suggests we'd be out the single market".

The party's decision to include a pledge to abolish tuition fees has caused the most controversy, with the cost of the proposal - £11.2bn a year - being highlighted as an example of the party's priorities.

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In the context of the wider world, however, the manifesto may not be particularly radical. "The party's policies would be regarded as mainstream in most European countries," says George Eaton in the New Statesman.

"Unlike the socialists of the past, Labour is not proposing to nationalise the 'commanding heights' of the economy or the top 200 companies, still less abolish private property."

What's more "the majority of the policies are popular with voters", continues Eaton, although he cautions against any belief that they will result in a huge upset come 9 June.

"As Ed Miliband can testify, popular policies don't win elections. Voting intention is rarely determined by individual issues but by the public's collective impression of a party and its leader," he writes.

Labour (draft) manifesto: What the papers say

12 May

Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto for the general election is "Labour's most socialist policies for a generation", says The Times.

A draft of the party's policies leaked late on Wednesday and has raised eyebrows across the board, drawing praise and mockery in equal measure.

Despite Jeremy Corbyn claiming the manifesto was "unanimously agreed", reports of infighting over it continue to plague the party, with The Guardian claiming the Labour leader is "braced for a battle over the final version".

At a glance, Labour's manifesto includes scrapping tuition fees and zero-hours contracts, renewing Trident, building 100,000 new council houses per year and renationalising the UK rail network, energy companies and Royal Mail.

An editorial from The Guardiancalls it as a "bold step", adding that since Theresa May "has adopted" former Labour policies on housing, corporate governance and energy, the party "should be congratulated for offering a bolder agenda".

Writer Aditya Chakrabortty even claims the ideas "are not radical enough".

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says the "surprising" manifesto has "notable big contrasts with Conservative plans".

She adds: "This will be an election where voters will not be able to say 'they're all the same'".

The Daily Mail claims there is a £30bn "black hole" in Corbyn's spending plans and the manifesto will cost every family the equivalent of £4,000.

The document is Labour's new "longest suicide note", it adds: "Red in tooth and claw and dripping with class envy."

Jeremy Warner in the Daily Telegraph, who brands the policies as "nonsense, dangerous and legally impossible", agrees.

"Much of the manifesto is also just pure, bash-the-rich spite," he says. "The programme would result in economic ruin, and almost certainly an immediate financial crisis."

However, The Independent takes a lighter tone, saying: "Everyone agrees Labour’s leaked manifesto will take us back to the 1970s, which is why we must re-elect the Conservatives so they can embrace the future, with policies such as bringing back fox hunting."

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