Labour manifesto waters down radical conference proposals on environment, private schools and immigration

Posted On: 
21st November 2019

Labour has watered down a series of radical proposals on the environment, education and immigration agreed at its party conference.

A number of Labour party conference proposals have been watered down in their manifesto
PA Images

Activists at the annual gathering in Brighton had demanded that the party commit to reducing net carbon emissions to zero by 2030, abolish private schools and extend free movement beyond the EU.

But none of the proposals have made it unscathed into the general election manifesto launched by Jeremy Corbyn.

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The environment motion passed at conference committed the party to working "in collaboration with the trade unions and the scientific community (to) work towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030".

But the manifesto stops well short of making that comitment, saying: "Labour will kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution that will create one million jobs in the UK to transform our industry, energy, transport, agriculture and our buildings, while restoring nature.

“Our Green New Deal aims to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 in a way that is evidence-based, just and that delivers an economy that serves the interests of the many, not the few.”

The apparent shift was defended by campaign group Labour for a Green New Deal, who got the original motion passed.

A spokesperson said: “The conference pledge talked about developing a pathway to net-zero emissions, and that's what Labour is already doing for us - with the energy report which will decarbonise by 90% by 2030 (consistent with net-zero), likewise the warm homes for all policy and petrol cars.”

On the fact the word “net-zero” was not used in the manifesto they added: “What's most important is developing the actual policies to get there - and we're thrilled with the scale of ambition shown in the manifesto so far, and we'll continue to work with Labour and the trade union movement in and beyond this election to make sure we get there.”

Another high-profile policy agreed at Labour party conference was a "commitment to integrate all private schools into the state sector".

The motion also demanded universities only admit 7% of students from private schools, to reflect the proportion of all pupils who attend them.

But while the manifesto talks about closing “the tax loopholes enjoyed by elite private schools”, it does not commit to shutting them.

Instead, it says a Labour government would kick the issue into the long grass by asking the Social Justice Commission "to advise on integrating private schools and creating a comprehensive education system".

And on freedom of movement, the Labour conference passed a motion saying the party would “maintain and extend free movement rights”.

But the document outlined today appears to water that down by saying it will be “subject to negotiations”.

It reads: “If we remain in the EU, freedom of movement would continue.

“If we leave, it will be subject to negotiations, but we recognise the social and economic benefits that free movement has brought both in terms of EU citizens here and UK citizens abroad – and we will seek to protect those rights.”

In response Ana Oppenheim, from the Labour Campaign for Free Movement, defended the manifesto saying it “offers a vision of hope and social justice, and a huge step forward for migrants' rights”.

She said it contains a “defence of free movement” and makes “a significant step towards delivering on conference policy”.