I asked Jeremy Corbyn for policy and never got it.
I have been severely criticised for doing so. I can live with that. One of my sons reckons I was born in a flak jacket and my mother certainly agreed. So bearing that in mind I will say that Owen Smith has delivered a lot of policy this morning. This is what he has announced:
Fair Employment, Fair Taxes and Fair Funding
- A pledge to focus on equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.
- Scrapping the DWP and replacing it with a Ministry for Labour and a Department for Social Security.
- Introducing modern wages councils for hotel, shop and care workers to strengthen terms and conditions.
- Banning zero hour contracts.
- Ending the public sector pay freeze.
- Extending the right to information and consultation to cover all workplaces with more than 50 employees.
- Ensuring workers’ representation on remuneration committees.
- Repealing the Trade Union Act.
- Increase spending on health and social care by at least 4% in real-terms in every year of the next parliament.
- Commit to bringing NHS funding up to the European average within the first term of a Labour Government.
- Greater spending on schools and libraries.
- Re-instate the 50p top rate of income tax.
- Reverse the reductions in Corporation Tax due to take place over the next four years.
- Reverse cuts to Inheritance Tax announced in the Summer Budget.
- Reverse cuts to Capital Gains Tax announced in March 2016 Budget.
- Introduce a new wealth Tax on the top 1% of earners to fund our NHS.
- A British New Deal unveiling £200bn of investment over five years.
- A commitment to invest tens of billions in the North of England, and to bring forward High Speed 3.
- A pledge to build 300,000 homes in every year of the next parliament — 1.5 million over five years.
- Ending the scandal of fuel poverty by investing in efficient energy.
There are things I would have liked to see that need fleshing out. So there is nothing on the NHS market or PFI, although the new spending commitment is clearly via bonds (which does mean PQE can follow).
I would also have been tougher on some tax issues, e.g. on capital gains. And I may have raised corporation tax and not just reversed cuts to come. A commitment on HMRC funding would have been welcome.
But the lines of travel are good here: it is a good start.
I have supported Wage Councils in the last, including in my book The Courageous State.
The NHS commitment is strong.
And so is the move on Trade Union rights.
I welcome the split of labour and social security.
And the North needs all that investment and more.
Just as the British New Deal (read Green Deal with a success criteria linked to fuel poverty) is needed.
And for those who are saying, as the Guardian implies, that some of these are Corbyn ideas, maybe they should remember they borrowed them in the first place.
The truth is that these are a genuinely left of centre programme. If anyone can say otherwise they're not telling the truth.
At least that means there is now something to debate. That has to be good for democracy.