Following yesterday’s review of the Conservative manifesto I thought that I better push on and look at the ideas of the main challenger for the throne. So today I review the Labour Party manifesto (Britain Can Be Better).
The manifesto begins with the Budget Responsibility Lock which is a play by the party for credibility on the economy. In essence this is about working within the frame of austerity that has been set by the current government. If Labour are elected it is clear that the deficit will continue to rule British politics.
The manifesto is a rather verbose document which is bigger on rhetoric than policy. It preambles along with lots of stuff about the importance of “working people”. Rarely a sentence is offered up without the words “work” or “working” (although never “workers”). One interesting section is found on p.23 where the issue of job quality is addressed. Whereas the Conservative manifesto promises jobs for everyone the Labour manifesto thinks a bit more deeply about what these jobs might look like. There are promises to increase the minimum wage and ban zero hour contracts.
On young people the Labour Party promise to reduce higher education fees, end youth unemployment (through more benefit conditionality) and create more apprenticeships. On apprenticeships there is a little more detail than the Conservatives offer, but it remains rather vague as to how this big upsurge will be achieved.
The party also has a section on education (education, education) which promises to protect school budgets, invest in vocational education and further education. It also reinforces Tristram Hunt’s campaign for professionalism in schools. There is some evidence of purposeful changes being planned here: the introduction of Directors of School Standards to oversee the education system; an end to free schools; a radical sounding but ultimately conservative fudge to protect state funding to private schools; more sex education; more character education and so on.
Importantly for readers of this blog the party also promises
We will introduce a new, independent system of careers advice, offering personalised face-to-face guidance on routes into university and apprenticeships.
The manifesto leaves the details of this vague but press coverage suggested that it was probably worth about £50 million.
The Labour manifesto certainly suggests a greater interest in careers issues than the Conservative equivalent. But, there is a lot of detail left vague (as is usual). The education element of the manifesto displays some more original thinking than the employment section, but there are welcome promises in both.