Will Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left Election manifesto finish off the Labour party as an electoral force?
YES – Atul Hatwal, Labour Uncut
Labour’s manifesto is another nail in the coffin of the party’s electoral hopes. This isn’t because the policies are all bad. Far from it. Free school meals, new council houses and increased investment in infrastructure are all important pledges with a broad appeal. But voters view the policies in the manifesto through the prism of the party leader. Do the policies accentuate the positives or negatives? What does the combination of policies plus leader look like? Unfortunately for Labour, Jeremy Corbyn is leader. As canvassers up and down the country are finding, he is a huge problem on the doorstep. Concerns about his fringe politics are turning traditional Labour voters off the party. The policies in the manifesto that have been picked up in the media, such as nationalisation and big hikes in spending, play into voters already negative perceptions. With Corbyn at the helm, this manifesto does more to confirm the Tories’ story about Labour returning Britain to the fag-end of the 1970s, than to paint the picture of a brighter tomorrow that the party needs to win an election.
NO – Alex Deane, Conservative commentator
As a Tory, Labour’s manifesto is obviously pleasing for me. It is deeply ideological, alien for most of the electorate and worsens rather than improves the party’s already dire prospects at the forthcoming General Election. But it will be back.
In 1983, its similarly unattractive manifesto was famously derided as “the longest suicide note in history”. Who, in that era of Thatcher in full flight, would have foreseen the resurgence of Labour under Blair in the 1990s? Of course, comparing Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership with Michael Foot is deeply unfair to Michael Foot. Foot was a patriot, a deep thinker, a former cabinet minister, was able to work with his deputy, had a functioning shadow team around him, and had won seats at local elections. Nevertheless, the point remains: Labour has been down before and come back. Its brand is strong and their membership resilient. Indeed, it may yet do better than expected in June. We Tories are complacent at our peril.