AHEAD of the general election tomorrow, we have taken a look at each of the manifestos published by the parties which have candidates standing in Bromsgrove.
Here we have compiled an overview of the Conservatives’, Labour’s, Liberal Democrats’ and Green Party’s documents on six main issues – Brexit, the NHS, Climate Change, Education, Crime and Policing and housing.
CONSERVATIVES – Boris Johnson has consistently used the ‘Get Brexit done’ slogan throughout the campaign and says, if he gets a ‘working majority of MPs’ the deal he negotiated with the EU in October will pass through Parliament with Britain leaving the European Union on January 31. Trade talks would then begin with the EU with a view to getting a trade deal by December 31, 2020 – the scheduled end of the ‘transition period’. No trade deal has been completed between nations in such a short space of time but, the Conservatives say, because Britain already has a relationship with the EU, it would be possible. Some warn Britain could end up leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ at the end of next year if no deal is reached and the transition period is not extended. Mr Johnson has refuted that claim and also said the transition period would not be extended under his plans. The Tories have vowed to take back control of laws, money, control Britain’s trade policy so it can strike its own deals with other countries outside the EU and introduce an Australian-style immigration system. A pledge is also made in the manifesto to raise standards in areas like workers’ rights, animal welfare and agriculture and ensure the UK is ‘fully in control of its fishing waters’. The Conservatives have been criticised over the Northern Ireland border – saying the country will be in a customs union with the UK and the EU so ‘it gets the best of both worlds’ and can strike its own trade deals. This, say other parties, will be problematic accusing Mr Johnson of introducing a border ‘down the Irish Sea’ between the mainland UK and Northern Ireland.
LABOUR – Jeremy Corbyn has stated if his party wins a majority a new deal would be negotiated with the EU which, he said, would focus more on people’s rights – from Brits living in the Union and EU citizens living the UK to workers. He would want to maintain the rights workers enjoy at the moment under EU law. Mr Corbyn would then put his deal to the British people in a ‘confirmatory referendum’ where they would have the choice between Labour’s new deal and remaining in the EU. Labour rules out a no-deal Brexit and says it would ‘end the scandal of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being wasted on no-deal preparations’. Labour’s deal would see Britain continue to participant in EU agencies and funding programmes and have a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union to protect manufacturing and allow the UK to benefit from UK-EU trade deals. Mr Corbyn says his approach, which includes a close alignment with the Single Market, is backed by businesses and trade unions. The UK would also have the same security arrangement it has now with the EU. Some Brexiteers have criticised Mr Corbyn’s approach over its ‘Softer Brexit’ which means Britain would be unable to make their own trade deals with other countries outside the EU. Mr Corbyn has remained neutral, opting not to say publicly whether he would campaign for his new deal or to remain.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS – Jo Swinson has vowed, were her party to get a majority, to revoke Article 50 to stop Brexit, enabling the UK to continue as it has done in the European Union. She is also offering a £50billion ‘Remain Bonus’ to invest in public services and tackle inequality. In the event of any other outcome, Liberal Democrat MPs would fight for a ‘people’s vote’ – another referendum – for Britain to stay in the EU. The Liberal Democrats claim even if the withdrawal agreement went Parliament country would face more years of difficult trade negotiations with the EU which could result in Britain leaving with a no-deal Brexit, on WTO terms. Jo Swinson said that deal would be ‘so bad that almost no other country anywhere in the world trades on that basis’. The Liberal Democrats say Brexit is bad for economic growth and jobs and being a member of the EU is good for Britain’s economy. People – both in the EU and UK – would be able to continue – under freedom of movement laws – be able to live, study, work and retire anywhere in the EU. The rights workers currently have would also be protected.
GREEN PARTY – The Greens are committed to remaining in the EU and would offer voters a second referendum. The Green party is committed to Single Market membership, guaranteeing free movement and the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK citizens living in EU member states. The party wants to improve EU laws on the environment and keep legislation on workers rights made in Brussels. The Party also promises reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, so it ‘promotes more sustainable farming methods’, and ‘press for a review of the Common Fisheries Policy in order to increase its sustainability’. Members of the EU Parliament would be able to initiate Europe-wide legislation. The Greens would also introduce a binding lobbying register for all EU institutions and set up an independent body to supervise its operation.
CONSERVATIVES – In Boris Johnson’s manifesto he has promised more hospitals although the exact number has been the subject of much debate during the campaign. fullfact.org accepts the Government has committed £2.7billion to upgrade six hospitals by 2025. Boris Johnson said ‘seed funding’ had been put forward to begin planning more (giving a total of 40). fullfact.org confirms up to 38 other hospitals have received £100million to begin planning for building work between 2025 and 2030. The Conservative manifesto also claims there will be 50,000 more nurses. That 50,000 includes 18,500 retained nurses – nurses who are considering leaving and will be encouraged to stay or those returning after leaving the profession (fullfact.org). Under a majority Conservative Government the annual maintenance grant will be brought back giving student nurses between £5,000 to £8,000 per year every year of their course to help with the cost of living. That will not have to be paid back. Other promises made by the Conservatives in their manifesto include 6,000 more GPs and 6,000 more primary care professionals, such as physiotherapists and pharmacists. This, the Tories say, is on top of the 7,500 extra nurse associates and 20,000 primary care professionals already announced. The Conservatives have also pledged to improve staff morale, more funding for professional training and hospital management and an NHS Visa to ensure it can train and employ tens of thousands more NHS professionals. People who want to come from overseas to work in the NHS will be encouraged to do so and supported. Qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals with a job offer from the NHS, who have been trained to a recognised standard, and who have good working English, will be offered fast-track entry, reduced visa fees and dedicated support to come to the UK with their families.
LABOUR – The party says there are 100,000 staff vacancies in NHS England, including a shortage of 43,000 nurses. There are also 15,000 fewer hospital beds. A Labour government would invest in the NHS to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need, vowing to increase expenditure across the health sector by an average of 4.3 per cent per year. NHS England spending from 2018-19 was £129billion which would mean an average increase of around £5.5billion in the first year and similar increases after that. Labour vows to improve stroke, heart disease and cancer survival rates by providing earlier diagnosis and improved screening rates. It would end NHS privatisation in the next Parliament as, the manifesto says ‘every penny spent on privatisation and outsourcing is a penny less spent on patient care’. Labour would bring all healthcare services back in-house and repeal the Health and Social Care Act and reinstate the responsibilities of the Secretary of State to provide a comprehensive and universal healthcare system. Labour says it would keep the confirmed hospital rebuilds and invest more in primary care settings, modern AI, cyber technology and state-of-the-art medical equipment, including more MRI and CT scanners. Labour promises to provide an additional £1.6billion-a-year to ensure new standards for mental health are enshrined in the NHS constitution ensuring access to treatments is on a par with that for physical health conditions. And the party would develop a planned model of joined-up community care, enabling people to live longer lives in better health in their own homes.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS – The Lib Dems have combined their NHS plan with ‘health and care’ system – focusing on both as they feel they go hand-in-hand. They claim they are the only party with a long term plan for them. The Liberal Democrats would raise £7billion-a-year by putting an extra 1p on the basic, higher and additional Income Tax rates. The additional revenue would be ring-fenced purely for the NHS and social care to address the crisis, tackle urgent workforce shortages, invest in mental health and prevention services. The Lib Dems say it is the most efficient and effective way of spending these extra resources – ensuring they have the greatest impact on the quality of care patients receive. The party would also use £10billion of its capital fund to make necessary investments in equipment, hospitals, community, ambulance and mental health services buildings, to bring them into the 21st century.
GREEN PARTY – Privatisation would be rolled back to ensure all health and dental services are always publicly provided and funded, and free at the point of access, via the introduction of an NHS Reinstatement Act. NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans would be scrapped. Mental healthcare would be brought in line with physical healthcare to ensure people experiencing mental health crises were supported close to their home and support networks. Mental health awareness training would be introduced within the public sector and encourage a more open dialogue on the issue in wider society. The NHS spending gap would be given an immediate cash injection, to ensure everyone can access a GP, hospitals can run properly, and staff are fairly paid. And there would be major investment in social care for the elderly and all those who need it. The Greens guarantee funding increases of at least £6billion-a-year in the health service (4.5 per cent).
CONSERVATIVES – The Party has vowed to lead the global fight with a target for Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Conservatives have pledged to invest £1billion in completing a fast-charging network to ensure that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid electric vehicle charging station. They will ‘consult on the earliest date by which they can phase out the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars’. International Climate Finance would be doubled and the party would use the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020 to urge global partners to do the same. There would be new international partnerships to tackle deforestation and protect vital landscapes and wildlife corridors. A new £500million Blue Planet Fund would be used to protect oceans from plastic pollution and overfishing. The Conservatives have vowed to lead diplomatic efforts to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030. The UK’s offshore wind industry will reach 40GW by 2030 and new floating wind farms would be introduced. The party pledges to help lower energy bills by investing £9.2billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals. They also say they will support clean transport to ensure clean air, as well as setting strict new laws on air quality.
LABOUR – Jeremy Corbyn is promising a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ to create a million jobs in the UK to transform the country’s industry, energy, transport, agriculture and our buildings, while restoring nature. Labour’s Green New Deal aims to achieve the substantial majority of emissions reductions by 2030. The party says energy use in buildings accounts for 56 per cent of the UK’s total emissions, making it the single most polluting sector. It will develop a plan to put the UK on track for a net-zero-carbon energy system by the 2030s. 90 per cent of electricity and 50 per cent of heat will come from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030. Labour has vowed to build 7,000 new offshore wind turbines, 2,000 new onshore wind turbines and enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches. New nuclear power would be needed for energy security. Tidal energy will be trialled and expanded with investment to reduce the costs of low-carbon hydrogen production. Almost all of the UK’s 27million homes will be upgraded to the highest energy-efficiency standards, reducing the average household energy bill by £417 per household per year by 2030 and eliminating fuel poverty. All new homes built will be constructed to a zero-carbon homes standard. Labour will also create ten new National Parks and build 2billion trees in the next 20 years.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS – The Lib Dems pledge to cut energy bills and fuel poverty by 2025, reducing emissions from buildings, including providing free retrofits for low-income homes. Other improvements include a subsidised energy-saving homes scheme, making the Stamp Duty Land Tax dependent on the energy rating of the property and reducing VAT on home insulation. Councils will be empowered to develop community energy-saving projects, including delivering housing energy efficiency improvements street by street, which cuts costs. All new homes and non-domestic buildings should be built to a zero-carbon standard where as much energy is generated on-site through renewable sources. Minimum energy efficiency standards for privately rented properties would be improved and the cost cap on improvements removed. More funding aims to get 80 per cent of all electricity generated in the UK provided by renewable methods by 2030. Councils would be supported to develop local electricity generation and all new homes would be fitted with solar panels. Fracking would be banned outright because of its negative impacts on climate change, the energy mix and the local environment. Rail fares would be frozen for commuters and season ticket holders. Britain’s rail network would be extended to improve stations, reopen smaller stations and convert the rail network to ultra-low-emission technology (electric or hydrogen) by 2035, providing funding for light rail and trams.
GREEN PARTY – An Environmental Protection Act will be introduced to safeguard and restore the environment, protect and enhance biodiversity, promote sustainable food and farming, and ensure animal protection. A public works programme of insulation will make every home warm and the party will invest in flood defences and natural flood management to make every community safer. There will be an equality of access to nature and green spaces, to enhance leisure, health and wellbeing. Active ongoing cooperation with businesses and other countries to limit global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees and aiming for 1.5 degrees. Open up car-free access to the National Parks with new cycling, walking and bus links. A new a new Clean Air Act will set new air quality standards for the UK. Fracking will be banned. Increase funding for the Environment Agency and Natural England, to support the vital work they do to protect our environment. Strengthen Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest protections, with development in these areas only being permitted in exceptional circumstances. The party will encourage applications from communities for new Green Belt, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Park designations. And the most harmful pesticides (including glyphosate) will be banned immediately with new rigorous tests for pesticides. Only pesticides that pass this test, and demonstrably don’t harm bees, butterflies and other wildlife, will be approved for use in UK.
CONSERVATIVES – Boris Johnson has already announced an extra £14billion in funding for schools, including ensuring each secondary school pupil has at least £5,000-a-year spent on them and and primary school children £4,000. There will be, under the Tories’ plans, a £780million in new funding to support children with Special Educational Needs next year alone. The Conservatives say for children to get the education and opportunities they deserve they need the best teachers – the party is raising teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000 to make them ‘the most competitive in the graduate labour market’. The Conservatives say the levels in maths, English and science have all been improved over the last ten years and in this Parliament they would focus on arts, music and sports provision.
LABOUR – Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled plans to create a National Education Service to provide all children and adults with ‘free education for life’. Within that is a £7.2billion bill to scrap university tuition fees. Other pledges include providing free school meals to all primary school children and reducing class sizes in all England schools to under 30 pupils. Labour has promised to recruit 20,000 extra teachers, fund 30 hours’ free childcare for all two to four-year-olds and open 1,000 new Sure Start early years centres. Private Schools would be treated as businesses and have their tax rules changed accordingly. Labour also wants to see how they could be more integrated into its comprehensive education system.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS – Jo Swinson has pledged to employ 20,000 more teachers and increase school funding to £10.6billion-a-year by 2024/25. Starting teacher salaries would also be raised to £30,000 under the Lib Dems’ plans and a pay rise of at least three per cent guaranteed over the next Parliament. All primary school children would be given free meals, along with secondary school children whose families receive universal credit. Working parents would receive 35 hours-a-week of childcare for two to four-year-olds which the Liberal Democrats has pledged £14.6billion to pay for. The poorest university students would receive grants to help them pay for their higher education.
GREEN PARTY – The Greens would increase education funding by at least £4billion-a-year, want to reduce class sizes to ‘under 20 in the long-term’ and help teachers focus on individual pupils’ needs. Schools would be freed from ‘centrally-imposed testing regimes’ such as Ofsted, the National Curriculum and league tables. Teachers would be ‘trusted to plan their lessons and assess progress according to pupils’ needs – not a one-size-fits-all’. Pupils would not start formal education until they were six years old. Under sixes would have a play-based education, focusing on play and access to nature. The Greens say a similar system works well in Sweden. The Greens pledge £7.8billion to scrap university tuition fees and graduates who owe for studies during the £9,000-a-year or more fees system – brought in by the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition Government – would have their existing debts written off.
CRIME AND POLICING
CONSERVATIVES – Boris Johnson since becoming Prime Minister has pledged 20,000 more police officers for England and Wales over the next three years and that recruitment has started. The Tories also claim they would provide 10,000 extra prison places and pledge £2.5billion to improve prisons. Police will be empowered by a new court order to target known knife carriers, making it easier for officers to stop and search those convicted of knife crime. Anyone charged with knife possession will appear before magistrates within days and custodial sentences should be mandatory for those using knife as a weapon.
Criminals jailed for four years or more should serve at least two-thirds of their sentence before their release. Tougher sentences should be brought in for violent and sex offenders and animal cruelty. The Conservatives will double the maximum sentence for assaults on police, fire and ambulance staff, along with prison workers. New powers will be given to police to deal with illegal traveller encampments – including powers to arrest and seize the property and vehicles of trespassers when encampments arise.
LABOUR – Jeremy Corbyn criticises the ‘21,000’ police officers ‘cut by the Conservatives in the past ten years’ and pledges to recruit 22,000 more police officers and place an emphasis on neighbourhood policing. Shorter prison sentences would be scrapped and the party would work with police and crime commissioners to reform police funding and share new resources fairly. The party says effective police work requires forces to serve their communities and work collaboratively with youth workers, mental health services, schools, drug rehabilitation programmes and other public agencies. A police force working within communities. Legal Aid would be restored for those involved in housing, social security, family and immigration cases. Community lawyers would be recruited as part of this plan.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS – Jo Swinson has pledged to invest £1billion in community policing, promising two new police officers in every ward and a two per cent pay rise for police officers. An extra 2,000 more prison officers would be recruited. Police, teachers, health professionals, youth workers and social services would all work closely together to prevent young people falling prey to gangs and violence. The party has vowed to provide a £500m ringfenced youth services fund for ‘local authorities to repair the damage done to youth services and enable them to deliver a wider range of services, reach more young people and improve training for youth workers’. Mental health support and treatment within the criminal justice system would be improved and continuity of mental healthcare and addiction treatment in prison and in the community would be ensured. The use of non-custodial punishments – such as curfews, community service and GPS tagging – would replace short prison sentences. The Lib Dems pledge to invest £500million to restore Legal Aid for those who need it. Police and Crime Commissioners would be replaced with accountable Police Boards made up of local councillors.
GREEN PARTY – The Green Party wants to ‘tackle the underlying causes of crime more effectively than CCTV cameras, stop and search or draconian sentencing can ever do’. The number of shorter prison sentences would be cut significantly with the emphasis placed more on rehabilitation. Prison sentences for women, The Greens say, is often counter-productive so they would reduce the number of women in prisons by creating ‘specialist women’s centres’. Investment would be put into youth centres and services to prevent young people getting involved in crime in the first place. Police forces would be integrated more closely with the communities they serve with the creation of new community liaison and equality officers to work on positive relations and by putting more police on the beat. A radical new drugs policy would be introduced to find the right balance between ‘responsible adult drug use and the potential harms of problematic use’. The Greens say the ‘criminalisation of drugs is not an effective deterrent and the taxes and licence fees that will apply to drugs under the party’s proposed radical new system will raise significant revenues’.
CONSERVATIVES – Boris Johnson says his party has delivered a million homes in the last five years – the highest number for almost 30 years and has pledged to build another million in the next five years. His aim is for 300,000 new homes-a-year by the mid 2020s. A new Infrastructure first policy, the Conservatives say, would amend planning rules so adequate roads, schools and GP surgeries, are in place before people move into homes. A new mortgage with long-term fixed rates only requiring a five per cent deposit to help renters buy their first homes. The Conservatives have pledged £6.3billion to pay for grants for environmental upgrades, such as improving boilers and insulation. The Tories would help people who want to build their own homes find plots of land under a ‘Help to Buy’ scheme. The Conservatives also want to protect and enhance the green belt by improving poor quality land. Brownfield development would be prioritised to regenerate towns and cities.
LABOUR – Jeremy Corbyn pledges to spend £75billion for 100,000 new council homes a year by 2024 and 50,000 affordable homes-a-year through housing associations. All of the UK’s 27million homes would be upgraded to the highest energy-efficiency standards by 2030. The right to buy scheme would be abolished and cash and power would be handed to councils to buy back former council homes. Labour pledges to end rough sleeping within five years. Upgrade almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes to the highest energy-efficiency standards by 2030.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS – Jo Swinson vows to end rough sleeping within five years and in her manifesto pledges to build 300,000 new homes-a-year by 2024. Of those, 100,000 properties would be for social rent. A Government-backed tenancy loans deposit scheme would be introduced to help the under 30s get into the rental market. Retrofit insulation would be put into 26million homes in the next Parliament – costed by the party at £15billion. Local authorities would be given powers to increase council tax by up to 500 per cent where properties are bought as second homes.
GREEN PARTY – A Green New Deal would be at the centre of the party’s plans. In it would be the building of 100,000 new zero-carbon homes for social rent each year and create jobs. Local authorities would be empowered to bring empty properties back into use. The Greens would scrap the Help to Buy and Right to Buy programmes. Councils would also be funded to create council homes, based on the individual needs of their area. All new developments would be located and designed to reduce people’s need for cars to live a full life – easy safe pedestrian access to local shops and schools and within 1km of the local rail, tube or tram station. Energy efficiency would be at the centre of the plans and the insulation of every UK home would be improved by 2030 using sustainable methods. 1million existing homes and other buildings would be improved every year so they reach the highest standard of energy efficiency. Homes lived in by people on low incomes will be the first to receive these major improvements and benefit from reduced heating bills. In addition, there will be a deep retrofitting of 10million homes by 2030.
For more detail….
This article provides an overview of the promises made in the manifestos on six key issues. To read more on the parties’ full policies in their full manifestos, click the links below.
The vote and count
Standing in Bromsgrove are Conservative Sajid Javid, Labour’s Rory Shannon, Liberal Democrat Dr David Nicholl and The Green Party’s Kevin White.
Polling stations open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday, December 12, when the votes will be counted.
There are 650 seats in the House of Commons being contested and to form a majority Government, a party would need to win 326 seats or more.
Before Parliament was dissolved for this vote, the Conservatives had 298, Labour 243, the Scottish National Party 35, there were 23 independents, 21 Liberal Democrats, ten DUP, seven Sinn Fein, five Independent Group for Change, four Plaid Cymru and one Green Party. Two seats were vacant and one was occupied by the non-political Speaker.
STANDARD PODCAST SPECIAL
We recorded Bromsgrove’s whole General Elections Hustings at the town’s Baptist Church. You can listen to the debate – orgainsed by Churches Together in Bromsgrove – on YouTube below –