My dream manifesto for change
After 44 years in Parliament I’ve seen countless governments come and go. With a potential Labour government on the horizon, what would I include in a wish-list manifesto?
This is far from exhaustive, and is uncosted – although many of my policies would cost nothing and some would even see a return of funds to the Treasury.
It is vital for our international standing that the United Kingdom recommits to all its international treaty obligations, including, but not limited to, the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention and the Good Friday Agreement.
We must repair the fractured relations between the UK and European Union countries. British business, our economy, our young people and the cost of living, as well as our environmental protections, have all suffered badly as a result of Brexit. Rebuilding the relationship with our closest partners will go a long way to reversing some of the damage. This includes opening negotiations on rejoining the single market and customs union – a position that would still be compatible with the result of the Brexit referendum and would resolve the difficulties in Northern Ireland – and leaving open the possibility of rejoining the EU as full members.
New legislation on asylum and refugees is desperately needed to re-establish safe and legal routes for asylum seekers, with specific protections for child refugees, and to re-establish the right to claim asylum irrespective of the journey taken to the UK. This must include quickly processing the Home Office backlog of asylum cases and amending the immigration rules to allow asylum seekers to work, bringing skills we need, filling labour shortages and boosting the economy.
Domestic action on immigration also must be matched by global action. We must reinstate the department for international (overseas) development as a separate department under a cabinet minister, with a view to returning its budget to 0.7 per cent of GDP.
To fix the crisis in social care, we must lay the foundations for a National Care Service, encompassing both residential and domiciliary care. Alongside this, we will cut NHS waiting lists, increase investment and develop a strategy to tackle childhood obesity. I would support the introduction of a wealth tax to help fund this ambition.
The crisis in our water and sewage industries can only be resolved by taking water back into public control as it is in Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Spain and many EU countries. If individual rail operators don’t improve their service and performance their contracts will not be renewed when they expire and they will be returned to public ownership – as has happened with LNER. We must invest in rail infrastructure, both north-south (including the full HS2) and east-west, as part of our efforts to combat climate change and boost the economy for all parts of the country. In addition, I would introduce a windfall tax on energy companies.
Climate change is happening rapidly. We need more ambitious carbon reduction targets, backed up by a green industrial strategy that enables the UK to develop its skills and expertise in the green economy, provide employment, cut domestic bills and boost energy security.
Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan will establish a public green energy company that will develop new clean energy generation and channel profits into green technology and a national wealth fund, as well as creating over a million skilled jobs. We will ban all new North Sea oil and gas licences and new coal mines, and invest in energy efficiency and home insulation.
We would relaunch the Building Schools for the Future programme.
Finally, constitutional reform, including devolving powers out of Westminster to the regions and nations of the UK, implementing long-awaited House of Lords reform by replacing the Lords with a second chamber, elected by single transferable vote, lowering the voting age to 16 and extending voting rights to all EU citizens with settled status.
Lord Dubs, Labour peer and former MP for Battersea
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