Have been reading Labour’s manifesto in more detail – don’t forget you can still watch the films here, and the manifesto section of the Labour website seems less crash-prone now than it was earlier, so you can read it in full there too – and enjoying finding little nuggets of policy that for one reason or another haven’t made the news.
In particular, my eye was caught by a statement in the section on Living Standards that ‘We are committed to ending rough sleeping by 2012‘.
Think about that for a second. Think about what a massive ambition that is.
Obviously, I work with homeless people, and I know that the vast majority of homeless people are not street-homeless. This means two things – firstly that there are already layers of safety nets between losing your home and finding yourself on the street; secondly that ending rough sleeping is not the same as ending homelessness.
But imagine if we do it. Imagine a Britain in which everyone has somewhere warm and safe to sleep. Imagine ridding the country of that level of fear and vulnerability. Imagine an achievement so enormous being within our grasp – by 2012!
All of which has made me think about what Britain will look like by the next election if we’re elected for a fourth term. What will life be like for me and my family and friends in a Labour 2015?
I expect that I will be:
– buying a house, thanks to the scrapping of stamp duty for properties below £250000
– but if I’m still renting, I’ll have the right to a written tenancy agreement and access to free and impartial advice, and to check out my landlord on the new National Landlord Register.
– still shopping in the children’s section, as Labour has pledged not to extend VAT to children’s clothes. (Midgets for Labour?)
I don’t know if I’ll still be working for an advice agency in 2015. But if I do, I’ll have good news for the people I advise:
– hundreds if not thousands of people will receive more Pension Credit as the capital disregard increases from £6000 to £10000
– everyone will have the legal right to a basic bank account
– fewer will be dealing with debt as the government clamps down on the interest rates and other fees charged by instant loan companies and payday or doorstep lenders, tackling the very high cost lending that hits low-income communities hardest.
Then there’s my family.
– By 2015 my sister Annie could be taking up one of the million new skilled jobs we have committed to create; or one of the paid internships to encourage more young people from low-income backgrounds to take up careers in professions like law and the media.
– My littlest sister will still only be 13. Having spent most of Labour’s fourth term at primary school, she will already have enjoyed learning a modern foreign language
– My Mom will still be benefiting from Labour’s support for families. In 2010-11, households will be £1,450 a year better off on average than they were in 1997. A family like my Mom’s, with one child and one person working full time, will have a minimum income of £310 a week in October 2010 – 27 per cent higher in real terms than in 1999.
– My Mom – and everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 – will be guaranteed a routine health check on the NHS.
– was sacked a few years ago for being 70. With Labour scrapping compulsory retirement at 65, I wouldn’t be surprised if he still has a job in 2015
– but should he or anyone else in my family need to be looked after, it’s a massive weight off all of our minds to know that the National Care Service will provide support for care in the home and cap the costs of residential care.
With friends and family all over the place it’s important to find ways to stay in touch:
– this is why reliable internet access is so important, and why I’m excited that my family will be able to benefit from the broadband service of at least two megabytes per second we’ll be guaranteed by 2012
– wherever we are in 2015, we’ll all be able to stay in touch in person much more easily too. With high-speed rail, journey times from the West Midlands to London will be as little as 31 minutes – and the line will run to Manchester too
– and with 100,000 electric vehicle charging points to be provided by the end of the next Parliament, there’ll be less excuse for my driving friends not to go electric.
Manchester in 2015:
– will have cleaner streets, as the ‘cleaner neighbourhoods’ legislation will be used to clamp down on litter, fly-tipping and vandalism
– will see fewer pubs standing empty (I can think of six or seven I pass on my way to work) as Labour will support pubs that have a viable future with a new fund for community ownership in 2010-11
– will be part of the Greater Manchester city region, with additional powers to improve transport, skills and economic development and acquire
greater borrowing flexibility; and travel around Manchester will already have become better and easier thanks to the expanded Metrolink.
And across the world, by 2015 Labour will have helped save the lives of six million mothers and babies by directing funding to the new UN Women’s agency to tackle maternal mortality.
That’s a safer future for women; a bright future for my family; an exciting future for me.
I know manifesto writers aren’t psychic. I know not all of these things are achieved. I know that if this blog still exists in any form in 2015, Tories will be going through it with a toothcomb looking for things we didn’t achieve. I know that events, dear boy, might conspire to rein in our ambitions.
But today Labour has set out a wide-reaching plan to make Britain a better place; and the world of 2015, if Labour are re-elected looks like a place I’m excited to live in. Have a read of the manifesto and a think about your own family, and imagine what a Labour 2015 will look like for you!