Labour manifesto: Where does the party stand on the big issues?

Corbyn describes manifesto as ‘most radical’ programme for government in decades

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 21 November 2019 15:48 GMT
Highlights as Jeremy Corbyn launches Labour manifesto

Launching his second election manifesto, Jeremy Corbyn described it as the “most radical” programme for government in decades, with widespread plans for nationalisation of key utilities and measures to reverse austerity.

In a defiant message to critics of his left-wing programme, the Labour leader told those gathered in Birmingham for the manifesto’s launch that “ferocious” attacks on him are a sign that the powerful elite are scared of his determination to change a system rigged in their favour.

Quoting Franklin D Roosevelt, the president who introduced a “New Deal” for the US in the 1930s, he said: “They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred.” Here The Independent looks at some of Labour’s key commitments in the party’s 105-page manifesto.


The manifesto repeats the decision agreed at the party’s conference in September, and dedicates a chapter to the “Final Say on Brexit”. Needless to say, Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal will be scrapped.

Within three months of winning a general election, Labour claims it will secure a “sensible” Brexit deal with Brussels. Within six months, said deal will be put back to the people in a second referendum.

The decision of the Final Say referendum will be implemented “immediately”. The document does not mention how Labour will campaign in any referendum, but the party has claimed this will be decided at a special members’ conference after a new deal has been negotiated.

Public sector

The remit of the state would be massively extended under Labour, with intentions to bring rail, mail, water and energy back into public ownership, and to deliver full-fibre broadband, via a publicly owned company, free to everyone in the country.

Public sector workers would also see an immediate five per cent boost in pay, with year-on-year above-inflation pay rises to follow.

A commitment has been made to introduce a “real living wage” of at least £10 an hour while ending zero-hours contracts and strengthening trade union rights.


A “humane” immigration policy will be introduced by Labour, and numerical targets will be scrapped. The party will also abolish the 2014 Immigration Act, dismantling the so-called “hostile environment” that led to the Windrush scandal.

On free movement of people, Labour says this will continue if the UK remains in the EU. “If we leave, it will be subject to negotiations, but we recognise the social and economic benefits that free movement has brought both in terms of EU citizens here and abroad – and we will seek to protect those rights.”

Climate & environment

Mentioned just a handful of times in Labour’s 2017 manifesto, the climate crisis runs central in the party’s new manifesto for government. It pledges to start a Green Industrial Revolution and create one million jobs in the UK to “transform our industry, energy, transport”.

The manifesto stops short, however, of signing up to the motion passed at the party conference of establishing a net-zero carbon economy by 2030. Instead, it states a Labour government would “aim to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions” by that target date.


Corbyn insisted during his speech that Labour would scrap the contentious universal credit system and replace the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with a Department for Social Security.

The benefit cap and the two-child policy – restricting benefits to the first two children – will also be scrapped. The party will pilot universal basic income in certain areas of the UK, giving all citizens a weekly payment instead of traditional means-tested benefits.

Labour has also pledged to deliver the biggest building programme of social housing since the Second World War, with 100,000 built for social rent each year.

On homelessness, the party said it would make 8,000 homes available for people with a history of homelessness, and earmarking £1bn a year for councils’ homelessness services.


The NHS would see a 4.3 per cent increase in its expenditure every year, with privatisation reversed. Labour would also reintroduce free dental care check-ups, mental health services would receive £1.6bn extra a year, and free personal care for elderly people would be on offer.

The party will also fully fund and roll out the HIV prevention medication PrEP. Prescription charges will also be abolished.

Defence & foreign policy

The party will undertake a “strategic defence and security review” to assess Britain’s security challenges, including the threat posed by cyber crime. The Trident nuclear deterrent will be renewed, and the party will commit to spending at least two per cent of GDP on defence.

A “ War Powers Act” will also be introduced by a Labour government to ensure no prime minister can “bypass” parliament and commit to “conventional military action”.

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia will be suspended immediately and to Israel in arms used against Palestinian civilians.

The party will conduct an “audit” of the impact of Britain’s colonial legacy “to understand our contribution to the dynamics of violence and insecurity across regions previously under British colonial rule”.


Private schools will not be abolished under Labour’s plans despite a radical resolution passed at party conference to seize the assets of independent schools. However, the party will act to close tax loopholes currently enjoyed by some institutions.

“We will ask the Social Justice Commission to advise on integrating private schools and creating a comprehensive education system.”

Under a Labour administration, Ofsted and Sats tests at Key Stage 1 and 2 would be scrapped, while power over the running of schools would be returned to councils and head teachers, rather than academy bosses.

For early years, the party has pledged to provide 30 hours of free childcare to all pre-school-aged youngsters and has guaranteed a Sure Start centre in every community. In higher education, the 2017 vow to get rid of university tuition fees is back and maintenance grants would be returned, but there was no mention of clearing graduate debt.

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