Labour launched their manifesto today. There’s no point in me repeating much of what’s already been said, but I would recommend these analyses: Guido Fawkes, Nick Robinson, Adam Boulton. Also, have a look at the real thing, especially the video, which is… er, well, let me hand over to Sky’s Glen Oglaza for a moment.
I am trying to be less partisan on this blog for various reasons, but today presents me with a particularly tough challenge. The Tories uploaded Labour’s manifesto in order that they might crowdsource the contents, as 77 pages of that kind of content is, I suspect, too much for even the most hardened group of CCHQ e-warriors. I had a go myself but could only stomach so much of it, so impenetrable is the language, so frustrating are the misleading assertions, empty and impossible promises.
I would add at this point, with regard to my comment about partisanship, that if Labour upload the Tories’ upcoming manifesto to A.nnotate I will do the same thing. I’m not suggesting that weasel words and empty promises are the preserve of one slice of the political spectrum. On the contrary, they comprise most politicians’ entire vocabulary.
What’s most striking about it, apart from the fact that its length is roughly inversely proportional to the amount of sense it makes, is it’s failure to accept that they are responsible for the last 13 years of governance. So much of it is written in the language of opposition. Here are some sample phrases:
There will be no return to business as usual
On public spending, we will be relentless in making sure that the public gets value for money for every pound spent.
Restoring full employment [heading]
What was ‘business as usual’, and if we’re not returning to it that means a) we have moved away from it and b) there was something wrong with it. But presumably it still pertains to the last 13 years, so…?
Their promise of a ’relentless’ pursuit in making sure the public gets value for money suggests that they have been doing something other than that. This is, of course, entirely correct, (see mind boggling IT overspends) but quite odd, no?
And as for ‘Restoring full employment’, where the hell to begin with that? We’ve never had it, we don’t want it because it would make no economic sense, and it’s impossible.
There are plenty of other bizarre moments, such as:
In Africa, Labour has made aid, trade, conflict prevention and good governance a priority
Britain is among the best places in the world to do science
[They guarantee] every household in the country a broadband service of at least two megabytes per second by 2012
It [raising National Insurance] is fairer than alternative options like VAT
The engine of growth is private enterprise: we will give business our full support in creating wealth and jobs
We have met every request for extra equipment for Afghanistan
I am happy to be corrected on this but I very much doubt Labour themselves have done anything at all in Africa. And what the hell does it mean to “do science”? They don’t know the difference between megabytes and megabits, the latter being the correct unit here. This might seem like nitpicking but it’s actually pretty important to get this right because when you get it wrong you end up proposing something that’s basically impossible, as Dizzy points out here. Next, raising VAT is quite obviously fairer than raising NI because one can reduce one’s consumption of goods on which VAT is levied, whereas you cannot do anything about paying more tax at source. The fact they go on to claim they will give business their full support in creating wealth and jobs is completely at odds with the NI rise, and as for the last claim, I hardly need comment.
[Picture taken from www.labour.org.uk and edited]