Voices from all wings of the Labour Party, left and right, have called for a bold, radical manifesto for 2015. Labour need to grab public attention with bright, clear and popular policies to ensure Ed Miliband is moving into 10 Downing Street on 8th May 2015. Here, I propose five points that a visionary Labour manifesto should include to provide the change Britain needs, and Ed with a majority.
1 - Renationalise the railways.
This should be a no brainer for the Labour; over half of Tory supporters are in favour of renationalisation of our railways. Over the course of the next Parliament, all but two of Britain's rail franchises are up for tender. Instead of offering them to the highest bidder, why not bring them back home to public ownership. Doing so would cost the taxpayer nothing, all we would have to would be to hire rolling stock and staff like the existing firms do, but charging lower fares at the same time, returning the tens of millions in profits from train companies to commuter's pockets. Instead, we are paying for other nation's nationalised rail services through our extortionate fares, with French government owned SNCF having stakes in First TransPennine and London Midland for example. If we allow companies part owned by other governments run our rail services, why not just have our own government do it instead? It's popular, makes financial sense, what's not to like Ed?
2 - A Living Wage
Paying a living wage is morally right, simply put. It is unjustifiable some people in Britain have to choose between heating and eating, due to their measly pay. Even with tax credits subsidising low pay, many people cannot make ends meet. A moral government would not allow this, and Labour shouldn't. Instead, Labour should legislate for a living wage, to ensure everyone has a basic standard of living. Paying a living wage is not anti-business either, fair pay makes happier, more productive workers, which is nothing but beneficial to the business. Yes there are worries such as higher inflation and possible rises in unemployment, but these things can be deal with by bold, credible efforts from a Labour Chancellor. One Nation Labour should ensure the whole nation can make ends meet by ensuring a living wage.
3 - 300,000 New Homes Annually.
Britain is suffering a housing crisis, prices are rising much faster than wages and the average young couple will have to save for 22 years to afford the deposit on a house. More importantly, Britain lacks quality social housing - 1.8 million people are on the waiting list for social homes, and thousands more want to move to avoid the punitive bedroom tax. There are 180,000 people paying the Bedroom Tax for under occupying a 2-bedroom home, yet only 70,000 one bedroom social homes available, most of which will have people living there. The tax is punishing those who cannot move. The solution? (Aside from scrapping the Tax.) Building lots more homes in the public sector, of all sizes, so people can get council houses of the appropriate size. It also allows us to slash the waiting list for social homes and more houses will drop the price of many of those for sale, as basic supply and demand dictates.
4 - Invest in the North
Britain is London-centric, socially and economically, it has a population the same size as the next 6 largest cities combined. This means that the nation is overwhelmingly dominated by London, and for a modern economy, this is unusual and dangerous. America has New York as it's first city, but LA, Chicago and Seattle, to name a few, pull their weight. Berlin is balanced in Germany by Frankfurt and Munich - yet in Britain, we unfortunately do not have this kind of counterbalance. Second cities should be around half the size of main cities, not a quarter, like Manchester or Birmingham are - as we get the situation like that in the UK, where there are no economic powerhouses driving the rest of the country like London does for the south east. A bold Labour government would change this, by investing heavily in cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham to morph them into proper second cities. This would create jobs locally, boost national output and stop those not in London being quite so pissed off about how their cities are ignored.
5 - Ditch the Austerity Agenda
We're currently slashing spending on the most vulnerable in our society, in the name of austerity and the deficit. Unfortunately, Ed Balls has committed to continue to hurt the poor for at least a year if Labour wins in 2015, following Gideon's spending plans to the letter. Tell you what Ed, instead of carrying on with the butchery, commit to spending more on the needy, more on the people who are suffering. We can afford to borrow more; our bond rates are at historic lows, so the finance markets obviously believe we can afford it. Do what Canada did, spend until the economy and it's people are flourishing again, and balance the books then, rather than hitting the poor whilst they struggle - by cutting in good times, the pain is lessened considerably. Just don't waste the opportunity of a strong economy to balance the books like New Labour did.
Come on Ed, implement these ideas, and your poll ratings will get a boost, you'll look like you have a serious plan for the future and Labour would reassert itself as a party of the people, not a watered down version of the Tories.