A future fair for all

I???ve just looked at the Labour Party Manifesto. Weird picture on the front of the manifesto that I???ve added to this post. It is obviously supposed to evoke the New Jerusalem spirit of the 1945 administration, but it reminded me of the kind of design that you get on egg boxes. Maybe that is just me.


So what is in the syntactically odd ???A future fair for all???. As ever the word cloud provides a helpful summary. My summary of the introduction goes


Blah, blah, blah, crisis, economy, growth, jobs, rebuild, protect, reform, hard decisions, fairness, economic recovery, economic future, families, communities


The introduction is the most waffly of the three that I???ve looked at so far. It says a lot but doesn???t really establish any big ideas. In many ways it pushes a message which essentially says ???look it has been really difficult and we???ve been doing our best, if you re-elect us we???ll carry on doing our best and looking out for ordinary people like YOU???. I think that this is probably a fairly typical incumbent message. But, what is hiding in the detail?


As with the other manifestos there is lots of stuff about the economy which others will have more to say about than me. However it is noticeable how downbeat it all is with a strong focus on tough choices and cuts. Another general point that I noticed is the way that the manifesto brackets together ???Crime and immigration???. Surely this is an unnecessary and meaningless association. Whoever decided that this was a good idea?


So how does this ???prudence??? play out in the areas that are of interest to this blog.



  • More money for SureStart and pre-school education and child care
  • Every young person guaranteed education or training until 18 and 75% going onto HE or a vocational equivalent (it would be really helpful if manifesto writers could include the current percentage ??? 75% is great if it is currently 50% but not so great if it is currently 76%).
  • Like the other parties they love the Teach First scheme. (Can someone point me to a critique of this ??? I???m sure that there must be one out there)
  • Lots of stuff about devolution of power ??? but this is set within a context of the state regulating almost everything that moves. Mike Baker???s recent Guardian article looks at this in more detail.
  • Some stuff about bringing together academic and vocational education programmes ??? but short on specifics
  • There is also some stuff about using extra-curricular activities as a way to get kids off the streets and force them to do something more improving. E.g.


Cadet forces will move increasingly into state schools and we will expand spare time activities for young people, doubling those available ??? including sport ??? on Friday and Saturday nights, with neighbourhood police teams closely involved in areas where youth crime is highest.

I can???t be alone in finding the social control tone of this kind of stuff a bit un-nerving.


  • Everyone will have to stay in education and training until 18 and the range of apprenticeships will be increased.
  • They also promise more regulation of FE with a ???traffic light??? system to tell young people if the course is any good.


Careers and skills

There is a promise that careers advice for young people will be ???overhauled??? in ways that are clearly intended to build on the Milburn review. However it is pretty short on the detail of what this overhaul will mean.


There is also a commitment to develop the idea of Skills Accounts to support individual access to training. Details are scant in the manifest, but I???m sure that there is plenty written on this elsewhere.


Higher Education

No new ideas here really. Some more stuff on widening participation and outreach but essentially it is just more of the same. There is also some talk about government focusing of funding towards STEM and priority areas.


Education and science funding is seen as something which is given with an expectation of direct return on investment. There is also a call to make education a more effective ???export business???.


Social enterprise and mutualism

There is quiet a bit in the manifesto (and in the Co
nservative and Lib Dem manifestos) about the role of social enterprises, mutuals and co-operatives. These seem to be seen as a universally good thing. However all parties are pretty short on ideas about how they are going to get this sector to grow.



All in all there are few surprises in the Labour Party manifesto. They are promising to build on the things that they???ve been doing. This means that social inclusion and fairness get a high priority, but so do targets, regulations and state intervention. There is also a tone of social conservatism that underpins many of the Party???s responses to issues like the behaviour of young people. They are really staking their claim to govern on their supposed competence and understanding of the economy.


You pays your money, you takes your choice




  1. Thanks again, Tris.My expectations have now sunk so low that I’d really just settle for seeing George Osborne burst into tears live on telly on May 6th. I’m guessing the conflation of "Crime and immigration" is part of a populist promise to act tough towards those two great evils of modern society: young people and foreigners. They might at least have balanced this with a section called "Banking and racketeering."Steve

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