Owen Smith has unveiled no less than 20 policy proposals in a big speech today (July 27) – containing hardly any new ideas at all.
Supporters said he had brought forward more new policies in one day than the Corbyn leadership had in the past 10 months – ignoring the fact that many are already Labour policies, some announced as recently as May.
Here’s the list of his announcements, from The Guardian.
1. A pledge to focus on equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity
2. Scrapping the DWP and replacing it with a Ministry for Labour and a Department for Social Security
3. Introducing modern wages councils for hotel, shop and care workers to strengthen terms and conditions
4. Banning zero hour contracts
5. Ending the public sector pay freeze
6. Extending the right to information and consultation to cover all workplaces with more than 50 employees
7. Ensuring workers’ representation on remuneration committees
8. Repealing the Trade Union Act
9. Increase spending on the NHS by 4% in real-terms in every year of the next parliament
10. Commit to bringing NHS funding up to the European average within the first term of a Labour Government.
11. Greater spending on schools and libraries.
12. Re-instate the 50p top rate of income tax.
13. Reverse the reductions in Corporation Tax due to take place over the next four years.
14. Reverse cuts to Inheritance Tax announced in the Summer Budget.
15. Reverse cuts to Capital Gains Tax announced in the Summer Budget.
16. Introduce a new wealth Tax on the top 1% earners.
17. A British New Deal unveiling £200bn of investment over five years.
18. A commitment to invest tens of billions in the North of England, and to bring forward High Speed 3.
19. A pledge to build 300,000 homes in every year of the next parliament – 1.5 million over five years.
20. Ending the scandal of fuel poverty by investing in efficient energy.
Jeremy Corbyn’s camp has already pointed out that Mr Smith is taking his policies from the Institute of Employment Rights’ Manifesto for Labour Law, which Mr Corbyn adopted as a basis for future Labour policy last month.
Perhaps Mr Smith missed the announcement. It was made on June 30, when he might have been preoccupied by planning or taking part in the plots to undermine Mr Corbyn that were taking place at the time.
The Jeremy for Labour campaign released the following statement before Mr Smith had said a single word of his speech:
We welcome Owen’s focus on equality of outcome, reindustrialisation and workers’ rights – and his support for policies announced in recent months by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.
We are delighted that he has echoed John McDonnell’s call for the reinstatement of a Ministry of Labour, made last month at the Institute of Employment Rights and Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a ban on exclusive workforce recruitment from abroad, made during the referendum campaign, among other policies.
Owen’s speech today shows the leadership that Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated in placing economic justice and fairness back at the heart of Labour politics. Under Jeremy, Labour has put restoring dignity and pride in our communities, worst hit by decades of neglect, at the core of our politics.
Many communities in the North of England and elsewhere have for too long been left behind, with regeneration schemes that relied on expanding the public sector to make up for the shortfall of decent jobs in manufacturing – and thirty years headed in the wrong economic direction.
This will end under a Jeremy Corbyn Labour government, which will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in low-carbon goods and services and return our economy to being a dynamic engine of global progress, prioritising northern towns and cities with economic devolution that puts people first.
There will undoubtedly be a great deal of discussion about this speech. Hopefully the anti-Corbyn camp won’t be allowed to dominate.
Far too much Mr Smith’s offer is cosmetic. Focusing on “equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity” – what’s that even supposed to mean? There’s no promise to achieve such equality and no detail on how to bring it about.
“Greater spending on schools and libraries” – terrific. Where’s the promise to end private-sector involvement in schools and re-open libraries that have been closed?
“Reinstate the 50p top rate of Income Tax” – cosmetic. And ripe for ragging by the Tories.
“Reverse cuts to Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax… introduce a new Wealth Tax” – all cosmetic. They’ll bring money into the Treasury, perhaps, but how would Mr Smith redistribute it? Would it even cover his NHS spending increases?
“Ending fuel poverty by investing in efficient energy” – but not re-nationalising the utility companies, meaning our money is still going to foreign owners as those industries have been privatised.
Smith makes a big deal of being able to deliver these policies – asking us to accept that Mr Corbyn can’t. How do we know either of those things? We don’t. In fact, it seems unlikely that this list is anything more than a catalogue of empty promises and he’ll go back to right-wing neoliberalism if he gets the chance.
It’s not enough. It’s painting a new face on New Labour. It’s reacting to Jeremy Corbyn.
And perhaps this is the biggest point to be made:
Why have Fake Corbyn when we can simply keep the real Corbyn?
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