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Labour Manifesto Finalised But Left-Wing Angry About Leadership's Policy Vetos

Keir Starmer speaks during the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, October 2023 (Credit: Matt Crossick/Empics/Alamy Live News)

3 min read

The Labour Party finalised its manifesto for the 2024 general election at its 'Clause V' meeting today, but the party's left flank is dissatisfied about the leadership exercising veto power over certain policies.

Dozens of stakeholders arrived at 10am on Friday for the crunch meeting. On arrival, they handed in their electronic devices and were given numbered copies of the manifesto.

Sources described the meeting, which ended not longer after 4pm following two hours of reading time and four-and-a-half hours spent poring over each section of the document, as "positive".

A Labour spokesperson said: “Today’s meeting has endorsed Labour’s manifesto. On 4 July, the British people will have the chance to vote for change – to stop the chaos, turn the page and start to rebuild our country.”

But PolitiscHome understands that Unite the Union – a key Labour affiliate – did not endorse the Labour manifesto due to its stances on fire and rehire, and on oil and gas licenses.

Others from the Labour left were angry that the party leadership used a veto power over policies it did not approve of, with the chair requiring "consensus in every stakeholder department" before putting amendments to a vote, sources say.

"Everything nodded through," one attendee confirmed. "No opportunity at all to make amendments."

The policies advocated by the left include the introduction of free school meals for all primary school children and the scrapping of the two-child benefit cap – both considered by a number of left activists, as well as think tanks and charities, to be key drivers of child poverty.

Labour is currently committed to expanding breakfast clubs, but the party nationally has not backed the policy that would extend free school meals further. London mayor Sadiq Khan was re-elected last month on the pledge, which is also backed by campaign group Momentum.

Before the 'Clause V' meeting, Kim Johnson, the Labour candidate re-standing to be MP for Liverpool Riverside, said: “Our New Deal for Workers is a great start, but we need to go further and roll out universal free school meals and lift the two child cap on benefits, policies now supported across Labour’s political spectrum including by Gordon Brown and Torsten Bell. I can think of no greater priority.”

Reacting to the outcome of the meeting, a Momentum spokesperson said: "We're deeply disappointed that the Starmer Leadership didn't take up proposals for free school meals and scrapping the two child benefit cap, which could easily be funded by new taxes on the super-rich.

“Under the Conservatives and their austerity regime, more than four million kids are suffering in poverty. We need to kick out not just the Tories, but Tory policies too. Standing alongside child poverty campaigners and friends across the labour movement, we will continue to push for these policies, which represent the essence of real Labour values.”

One Labour source said a participant pushed for immediate recognition of the Palestinian state, but the chair refused to hold a vote on it. Labour has instead committed to recognise Palestine before the end of any peace process.

Labour was contacted for comment.

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