The Labour Party has launched its 2019 election manifesto, with the slogan It’s Time For Real Change. It sets out the polices the party aims to introduce should it win the election.
The full document runs to 105 pages. But what are the promises that will grab the public’s attention, and, potentially win over voters on polling day, 12 December?
1. Hold a second referendum on Brexit
Labour will renegotiate a new Brexit deal within three months, and hold a referendum on the deal or Remain within six months
Brexit is Labour’s elephant in the room.
Jeremy Corbyn wants to talk about his other policies, and the short “The Final Say on Brexit” section only begins on page 89 of this manifesto.
The other main UK-wide parties have simple slogans, but Labour’s policy is more complicated and doesn’t fit on a manifesto cover or the side of a bus.
It promises to renegotiate a new Brexit deal within three months – based on a new UK-EU customs union and close EU single market alignment.
That deal would then be put to a legally-binding referendum within six months, alongside the option to remain in the EU.
Labour argues the other two parties appeal either to Leavers or to Remainers, while it wants to appeal to both and to give the people the final say.
It would implement the referendum result immediately.
But Mr Corbyn will not say how he would vote in the referendum. And that continues to divert attention away from his other practical policies.
2. Introduce a National Care Service
Labour will provide “community-based, person-centred” support in England, including free personal care
Labour’s plan for a comprehensive National Care Service is bold, the question will be whether their costings stand-up to scrutiny.
That is not just about the affordability of the plan now, but also its costs as the population ages.
At the heart of the policy is free personal care for older people who need help with day-to-day tasks like washing, dressing and medication.
This system already operates in Scotland, but in England, the idea was rejected 20 years ago by the then-Labour government as too expensive.
There are also promises to double the number of people receiving help, so easing NHS pressures.
Plans to reform the care system have ended up as political footballs in past elections – the challenge for Labour will be building a consensus around their ideas.
3. Net-zero target
To put the UK on track for a net-zero carbon energy system within the 2030s.
The date for reducing carbon emissions to effectively zero is much sooner than the government envisages. It’s not quite the neat formulation of “net zero” by 2030 that many party activists wanted (and the Green Party has promised).
Instead, in one line, the document talks of achieving “the substantial majority of our emissions reductions” by 2030.
In another, it mentions putting the UK “on track for a net-zero carbon energy system within the 2030s”.
Presumably that creates enough stretch room to get to 2040 – five years earlier than the Lib Dems’ target year and 10 years earlier than the Tories.
In any event, it suggests a much faster transition than was recommended by the government’s independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, which has to raise questions about its feasibility.
4. Nationalise key industries
The party will nationalise the so-called big six energy firms, National Grid, the water industry, Royal Mail and the broadband arm of BT.
Labour’s manifesto is one of the most radical proposed overhauls of the way companies are owned and run in decades.
It would mark the biggest ownership takeover by the state since the nationalisations that occurred after the outbreak of World War Two.
Those companies that Labour does not want to own and operate themselves will also face a huge change in the way they are supervised by government.
The current inhabitants of company boardrooms are very aware life would be very different under a Labour government.
5. Abolish private schools’ charitable status
There are also plans to scrap tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants for the poorest students.
The controversial policy of abolishing private schools, voted through at conference, is being parked for the moment. But there is a firm commitment to remove their charitable tax status.
The big pledge, as in 2017, is the abolition of tuition fees. Universities will worry that the commitment to find public money to replace them could come under pressure if public finances tighten.
Scrapping tuition fees will benefit the wealthiest students most as they already use the bank of mum and dad, rather than loans, for living costs. Maintenance grants would be restored for the poorest by Labour, a move which economists will see as progressive because it would help those from low income families. The combined cost is estimated at £12bn a year.
On school funding, Labour’s promise goes further than the Conservatives and Lib Dems. By 2022-2023, spending would be £10.5bn higher than currently – which is a real terms increase.
6. Grant EU nationals the right to remain
It will means EU citizens in the UK no longer have to apply to continue living and working in the country
The settlement scheme was set up by the Conservative government to formalise the rights of EU citizens to continue living and working in the UK after Brexit.
Ministers have claimed the system is working well with applications from around 2.45 million people so far. But that means almost one million EU nationals have yet to sign up, raising concerns that some who have difficulty proving they’ve been in Britain could be at risk of deportation.
Labour’s proposal would end the worry and uncertainty for EU citizens in Britain, but it could create problems for border staff after Brexit in distinguishing between those who’ve already been living in the UK and new arrivals who may have certain restrictions.
7. Free bus travel for under-25s
Labour will also bring the railways back into public ownership.
Labour says it will bring the railways back into public ownership when the current rail franchises expire. The party says that means there will be no cost to the government as the contracts will have ended.
However, it is unclear who will then own the trains and the associated costs.
The use of driver-only operated trains will also be stopped, having caused years of disruption because of industrial action by disgruntled staff. Industry estimates this would cost more than £200m a year.
And the bus system will fall under council control again and thousands of routes that have been cut will be reinstated. Free bus travel is also promised for under-25s. The costs for this are not provided in the manifesto.
Labour promises a £250bn green transformation fund which will pay for huge infrastructure projects; HS2 will be built and extended into Scotland and long-suffering train passengers in the north of England will get “Crossrail for the North”.
8. Introduce a new benefits system
Labour will start work on a new benefits system to replace Universal Credit.
Labour’s plan to scrap Universal Credit deals with its immediate concerns about the much-criticised benefit. However, it do not say what it would replace it with.
Universal Credit was originally introduced to tackle the complexity and unfairness of the existing benefits system. But many of the accompanying changes became linked to austerity measures like benefit caps.
Going back to the system which Universal Credit replaced would create its own problems. And its introduction shows just how difficult it can be to devise a new system that works.
Labour has said it will start work on ideas for a new system immediately, but getting that right is likely to take years.
9. Start a rapid programme of homebuilding
Build 100,000 council homes every year.
Labour’s promise to build 100,000 council homes and 50,000 housing association properties a year by the end of the five-year Parliament marks a rapid change. Building on this scale has not been seen for 40 years.
The UK’s population is getting older and one in five people has a disability, so the type of homes proposed will face close scrutiny.
There are also questions over the availability of construction workers to build them.
A £1bn fire safety fund is planned with the aim of protecting these homes – and existing social housing – from a disaster like Grenfell Tower.
More people have rented from private landlords than social ones since 2013. Many are aged under 35.
For them, rent controls would aim to keep down costs by linking rent rises to inflation (the cost of living) and giving city authorities the power to be even stricter. This will reignite debate over their effectiveness.
The plan for a Department for Housing shows how central this area is to Labour’s key policies.
What do the other parties offer?
What are the parties promising you?
Here’s a concise guide to where the parties stand on key issues like Brexit, education and the NHS.