However with the memory of 18 years of opposition seared on our souls, and reflecting on two recent General Election losses, most Labour activists know we are not in politics to indulge our own whims, but rather to put forward policies which will take the country with us, and change it for the better, whilst making sure taxpayers’ money is being spent wisely.
And herein lies Labour’s problem. A manifesto which appeals to their core vote alone will never be an election winning manifesto. Labour don’t need bigger majorities in Hackney or Liverpool, they need to hold Ilford North and win back seats like Nuneaton.
Promising to renationalise everything John McDonnell can get his hands on will not cut it in these swing seats; failing to cost it properly is just setting Labour up for failure; and if you are pitching to be the Chancellor of the United Kingdom, you need to know what the country’s deficit is.
I have pondered whether political parties can actually make a success of this approach in these times of fake news, when facts matter so little, but one glance at the Conservative reaction this morning brought me right back down to earth. If you can’t say how you will pay for a policy, the default attack from your opponent is that you will put up taxes.
There is plenty for business to be concerned about in Labour’s pitch for Government, with plans for pay caps, wealth taxes and a platform that the Institute for Fiscal Studies says amounts to the biggest state intervention for decades.
On the other hand there’s no doubt there are policies in there which will appeal to some voters. More money for the NHS, extending free childcare to two year olds, scrapping tuition fees and bringing the railways back into public ownership will certainly win the party favour in some quarters.
However, more than ever this is a gut election. Most voters don’t bother with the minutiae of policy, they may remember one or two headline promises at best. Labour’s pitch needs to be to the voters who, when they stand in the polling booth on June 8th will be making a decision about whether they want Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn to be the Prime Minister of the country. No matter how popular Labour’s policies may or may not be, Corbyn’s challenge over the next four weeks is to persuade voters to trust him with that job.
For a more detailed look at our analysis of some of the policies announced in the manifesto, click here
Interel Director & former Labour MP