Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Singing from the song sheet - Labour's manifesto

From my Daily Record column 12/05/17

Analysing the fine detail of Labour's leaked manifesto is missing the point. Manifestos are not a question of content, they are a question of competence.

Enacted in office the Labour document would be the most radical since Clem Atlee's 1945 government gave us the NHS.

Or, for those with shorter memories, the boldest since Gordon Brown imposed a windfall tax on the privatised utilities in 1997 that banked £5 billion for modern apprenticeships.

Nationalising the railways, taxing the rich to pay for the NHS and a living wage of £10 an hour are brilliantly popular policies.

But voters know in their hearts none of them will come to pass. It is because Labour do not meet the tests twin tests of competence and credibility that every opposition in waiting needs to pass muster on. Diane Abbott alone is enough for voters to reach that conclusion.

A manifesto is a not just a prospectus, how many people read them? What is more important is what it represents, a ticket to the future, a vision of the journey you want to take people on.

Four weeks out from the election voters aren't buying it from Labour. While message might chime for many the messenger does not.

Where did it go wrong? A long way back but I reckon if there was a tipping point it was very early on when Corbyn, in his first public engagement as leader of the opposition, did not sing or even mouth the national anthem.

It is a trifling, picky detail yet we expect standards from our leaders that we would not reasonably impose on ourselves.

In politics you are seen as you arrive and people made their judgement on Jeremy Corbyn there and then. It was over before it began.

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