Britain can be better: The Labour Party Manifesto 2015
Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, in a speech launching Labour’s Manifesto on Monday 13 April, said:
Today I present our plan for the working people of our country. On behalf of all of you in our party who have contributed to it.
And on behalf of all of you in the country who have inspired it. My case is simple:
Britain can be better. For you, your family and our country.
And in the change I offer, I am guided by one simple truth: It is only when working people succeed that Britain succeeds.
Because I believe the wealth, the success, the future of our country does not simply come from a few at the top. It comes from every working person.
Now, I will not pretend to you that building this country will be instant or easy.
It has demanded change from us. It will require change in the way the country is run. And seeing it through demands new and different leadership for Britain.
But today I want to tell you how we can make it happen. Today I want to tell you why Britain needs a Labour government.
The very start of our manifesto is different to those that have gone before. It does not do what most manifestos do. It doesn’t offer a list of promises. A shopping list of proposals. Instead, it seeks to answer the questions you are asking.
I know many people want a fairer Britain but they ask whether it is possible. You want to see your children have a better tomorrow but ask how we can pay for it today. You want Labour values and a new start but you ask whether we can be responsible with our nation's finances.
This plan shows there is no trade-off between being disciplined and making a difference.
The plan we lay before you is no less ambitious because we live in a time of scarcity. It is more ambitious because it starts from a clear commitment to balance the books and because it does not stop there. This is a plan to change our country.
And it is a manifesto which shows Labour is not only the party of change but the party of responsibility too.
So page 1, line 1, sets out Labour’s Budget Responsibility Commitment. A clear vow to protect our nation’s finances. A triple lock of responsibility.
First, we are the only party at this election which can show how every policy in our manifesto will be paid for. No commitments requiring additional borrowing. Not a single one. That is the first lock.
Second, our manifesto writes the first line of Labour’s first Budget: “This Budget cuts the deficit every year.” And that Budget will only be presented when that has been verified by the Office of Budget Responsibility. That is the second lock.
Third, the next Labour government will meet our fiscal rules: with the national debt falling and a surplus on the current budget. A triple lock.
My vow to you the British people. Everything in this manifesto is funded. The deficit will be cut every year. The books will be balanced and the national debt will be falling.
Today I tell you how we can deliver and I offer this manifesto as proof. A better plan, a better future.
This commitment to fiscal responsibility is the foundation. And what a contrast with the Conservatives. In recent days you have seen them throwing spending promises around with no idea of where the money is coming from.
Promises which are unfunded, unfair and unbelievable. That approach is bad for the nation’s books. And nothing is more dangerous to our NHS than pretending you will protect it without being able to say where the money is coming from.
You can’t fund the NHS with an IOU. This is the road that leads only to broken promises and working people paying the price with higher taxes and public services undermined. The Tories are the party of sums that do not add up. And commitments that will not be kept.
We are a party that will keep our commitments. And every promise we make is paid for. But we don’t pursue this responsibility for its own sake.
It is the essential, strong foundation on which we then build. Because I tell you plainly today we have to change the way this country is run and who it is run for. Because for too long, you have been told something that simply isn’t true. That’s what’s good for the richest and most powerful is always good for the whole of our country.
That as long as a few individuals and companies are OK, we can just wait for the wealth to trickle down to everyone else. With one rule for the few and another rule for the many. And what does it mean under this government?
Insecurity for millions as the prescription for economic success. Everyday people having to pay the price of hard times. Young people fated to have a worse life than their parents. And public services cut back to the core.
We’ve had five years of these ideas. We’ve had five years of this experiment. And it has failed. So today we tear up these old assumptions.
Britain succeeds not when we only reward those with the six figure bonuses, but when we reward the hard work of every working person.
Britain succeeds not when our schools and hospitals are cut back to the bone, but when we invest so they can strive to be the best in the world.
Britain succeeds not with communities that are fraying at the edges, but when we have communities where people share a common life.
Britain succeeds not when those who have the access and the wealth have all the power, but when everyone’s voice is heard.
And Britain succeeds not when we turn in on ourselves, but when we are strong and confident and look outward to the world.
That’s how Britain can be better than this.
And it all begins with our economy. We believe the success of our nation will be built on the success of working people. So with our plan, everyone who puts in will get to share fairly in our prosperity as a country.
The Tories would have you believe low pay is necessary for Britain to succeed. Friends, that is wrong. Low pay and insecurity stop us succeeding. They hold back working people. And hold back our country.
So we will set new ambitions for the minimum wage. A minimum wage by 2019 reaching its highest ever proportion of average earnings, rising to more than £8 an hour.
Because we are determined to write the next chapter in the fight to end low pay. And as we tackle low pay, so too insecurity.
This government has overseen an epidemic of insecurity, with zero hours contracts. A text message at 6am telling you if you have work that day is no basis to build a successful country.
And our plan will have a simple principle at its heart: We will legislate so everyone who works regular hours will get a regular contract, not a zero hours contract.
And that is just the beginning of our plan for family finances. For the four and half million people on tax credits, we pledge today to protect them, not cut them as the Tories’ have said they would.
For working parents, we will not just have 25 hours free nursery care for 3 and 4 year olds, but we will go further. The next Labour government will introduce a new national childcare service to work with primary schools.
To help guarantee that, wrap-around childcare will be there for every working parent that wants it. And we will seek to bear down on all the costs working people face.
Showing how we can freeze rail fares in the first year of a Labour government and do it in a properly funded way.
And I make this promise to working families today: We will not raise National Insurance or VAT or the basic or higher rate of income tax.
My pledge for your family finances: An £8 minimum wage. Exploitative zero hours contracts banned. Tax credits protected. Childcare extended.
And no rise in VAT, national insurance or the basic and higher rate of income tax. Because we are determined to raise the living standards of working people. And the reason we can make these commitments is because we will make sure those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden.
So we’ll reverse David Cameron’s tax cut for millionaires to help pay down the deficit. We’ll crack down on the hedge funds who avoid paying their fair share. We’ll stop HMRC operating double standards. We’ll call the tax havens to account. And we’ll do something that no other government has done for over 200 years.
We’ll say enough is enough to the people who live here, work here, send their kids to school here, but don’t want to pay taxes here like everyone else. And abolish the “non-dom” rule. And it’s not just on tax where we will end the old idea that there is one rule for the rich and powerful and another rule for everyone else. The next Labour government will help create the conditions for wealth creation in everything we do.
That means being pro-business but not pro-business-as-usual. We can’t have banks that are so big and powerful that they can have things all their own way. That’s what we learnt from the financial crisis.
So with our plan, we will set a threshold for the market share of the banks. Get real competition on our high street. And not have businesses serving our banks but have banks serving our businesses once again.
We won’t stand by while powerful energy companies rip off businesses and families, keeping prices too high.
So our plan will freeze energy prices so they can only fall and cannot rise and give the regulator the power to cut prices this winter.
Pro-business but not pro-business-as-usual. And while we will maintain a competitive tax regime for large firms, we will champion small and medium-sized firms, and cut and freeze business rates for 1.5 million companies. Because small and medium sized businesses will create so many of the profits, wealth and jobs of the future.
And you have to ask: who do you want in power when it comes to these big decisions?
When the knock on the door comes from the big six energy companies. Or when the banks send a message asking for a better deal for them. Or when the tax avoiders turn up demanding that the revenue turns the other way. Or when the phone call comes from Rupert Murdoch.
Who do you want in Downing Street? Who do you think will stand up to those powerful interests? Who do you want standing up for you?
The answer will never be David Cameron. Because he’s strong at standing up to the weak, but always weak in standing up to the strong.
Whoever is making their case, I will always stand up for you.
With me as Prime Minister, no powerful interest, will outweigh the interests of working people. And giving a future for working people and building the wealth of the future means giving opportunities to all our young people. What does this government plan to do? It plans to cut investment in education. Short changing our children. And short changing our country.
That is something this Labour Party will never do. We will invest in our young people and invest in our future. Protect our Sure Start centres, our schools and our colleges. Guarantee apprenticeships to every young person who gets the grades.
And, we’ll do something else: We’ll make amends for the mistakes of this government - Calamity Clegg - and cut tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000. And it is not just education that needs protecting.
We need an NHS with time to care for us all. That’s why it’s right to ask those who can to pay a little bit more. With a crackdown on tax avoidance, a levy on the tobacco companies and a mansion tax on the most expensive properties, worth over £2 million. For a properly costed, fully funded, plan. For more doctors, nurses, midwives and homecare workers. And that’s why too, it is right to call a halt to David Cameron’s privatisation of the NHS. With a cap on private profits in our health service. And the abolition of their terrible Health and Social Care Act. We will put the right values back at the heart of our National Health Service.
The importance of this idea that our country only succeeds when working people succeed goes far beyond the economy and public services. It shapes our plan for our communities too.
Take immigration. I am the son of immigrants. I stand here today, with deep gratitude and love for my parents and what they gave me. And deep gratitude and love for what our country gave us.
I know immigration can benefit our country. But if working people are to have faith in the system, there have to be controls. Those who come to our shores from abroad should make their contribution to our country before they claim benefits. People should learn English if they work directly with the public in our public services.
And we must never allow the wages of working people to be driven down by the gang-masters, rogue employers and those who avoid paying the minimum wage. Because this Labour Party will always fight exploitation wherever we find it. And changing the old way of running the country means something else too.
It means challenging the way government works. It is about opening our politics up so everyone’s voice is heard. Giving power back to those to whom it really belongs: The British people. In every single part of our country.
To the Scottish Parliament, to the Welsh Assembly and to the cities, towns and counties of England. It’s time to end a century of centralisation throughout the United Kingdom.
Because we want to win power in order to give it away. And to give new energy to our democracy: it’s time to extend the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds.
And I will never cease striving for a more equal, more just and more fair society. Equal rights for all. Whatever your gender, race, ability, faith or sexual orientation. That is the Britain we believe in.
And as we need change here at home, so too abroad.
Let me say it plainly: I believe in a Britain that looks outwards not inwards. That works with others in our national interest. So for jobs, to tackle problems from terrorism to climate change and because we are at our best when we are confident in the world, our future lies inside not outside the European Union.
We will work with our allies for reform. But there is no future for this country withdrawing from the world. And we will work with our allies across the world too, to face all the difficult issues that we need to in our national interest. I pledged to this party and the country when I became leader that we would learn the lessons of the 2003 Iraq war. And we have.
We do not seek to solve the problems of the world on our own, but we will engage with the world.
We will continue the fight against ISIS, in partnership with our allies in the region and the world. Because they are an evil organisation that must be defeated.
And our plan at home and abroad goes together: a country that works for working people again, confident and secure in its place in the world.
So this is our plan.
And today we follow in the footsteps of those who have built the great institutions of our country. All of them called time on the old way of doing things.
In 1945, Attlee called time on the dark days of the depression. He said “never again.”
In 1964, Harold Wilson called time on the fusty, old ways of doing things. He beckoned in the white heat of the scientific revolution.
In 1997, Tony Blair called time on a decaying public realm. He said our hospitals, our schools, and all our public services could once again be the best in the world.
I do not offer a government that tries to carry on from where the last Labour government left off. I will lead a government that seeks to solve the challenges of our time.
Over the last four and a half years, I have been tested. It is right that I have been. Tested for the privilege of leading this country.
I am ready. Ready to put an end to the tired old idea that as long as we look after the rich and powerful we will all be OK. Ready to put into practice the truth that it is only when working people succeed, that Britain succeeds.
If you elect me as your Prime Minister in just over three weeks’ time:
I will work for that goal. I will fight for that goal. Every single day. In everything I do. In every decision I make. I know Britain can be better. The British people know Britain can be better.
Together, let’s make it happen.