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For further comment or to arrange an interview please get in touch with Emily Taylor emily@brightblue.org.uk or 07841419316.


Commenting on the 2024 Labour Party manifesto, Ryan Shorthouse, Executive Chair of the independent think tank Bright Blue, said:

“This manifesto is heavy on detailing the problems the Tories have created for the country, but light on Labour’s solutions. 

“This country very much needs a change in direction. But, under Labour, this will seemingly be via lots of new reviews, consultations and quangos. And, in many policy areas, Labour’s offer appears to be continuity with a bit more competence.

“Starmer’s main missions are right, especially creating wealth and spreading opportunity. Some of the ambitions, especially around clean energy, are refreshingly bold. And it is right, morally and economically, that income from work should not bear the brunt of any future tax rises. 

“But economic growth is forecast to be relatively modest across most of the developed world. There are no radical reforms from the Labour manifesto to alter this. So, in the years ahead, mainly because of an ageing society, there will be a need for significant tax rises or deep spending cuts. Though there is a promise of no return to austerity, the truth is that a Labour Government will have to make very painful fiscal decisions. The manifesto fails to face up to this reality.”

The Labour Party general election manifesto adopted the following Bright Blue policies:

Bright Blue has provided critique of some of the leading and most relevant policy announcements in the 2024 Labour Party manifesto below.

Tax

Thomas Nurcombe, Senior Researcher at Bright Blue, commented:

“Labour has continuously attacked the Tories’ record on taxation but is not doing enough to offer an alternative. Labour should have been braver and committed to rebalancing the tax system by reducing tax on workers across the income spectrum and increasing taxes on unearned income, such as capital gains and rent. This approach would provide the means to reduce – not just maintain – National Insurance, allowing more people to benefit financially from their work.”

Housing

Bartek Staniszewski, Senior Research Fellow at Bright Blue, commented:

“Labour’s target for the number of homes built is the lowest of all the major three parties, but also the most realistic. It is also backed up by the most comprehensive set of proposals for achieving it. More money for planning authorities funded by a Stamp Duty increase on non-UK property buyers, planning reform, restoring local authority housing targets, releasing low-quality green belt land for development, reforming land compensation rules, an increase in the volume of social housing and building new towns are all very positive moves that will improve the UK’s housing supply. Particularly encouraging are the reassurances that Labour will not be afraid to override local complaints. 

“Labour has also been positive when it comes to demand-side measures. A ‘first dibs’ for first-time buyers on new developments should redirect new homes to those who need them most without producing an excessive inflationary effect, as could a more comprehensive mortgage guarantee scheme. The only thing sorely missing is reform of the regressive Council Tax.”

Leasehold reform

Dr Will Prescott, Senior Researcher at Bright Blue, commented:

“The commitment to abolish England’s anachronistic leasehold system, plagued by widespread abuses and dubious management practices, is right. Regulating ground rents, tackling excessive service charges and, most importantly, banning the sale of new leasehold flats is ambitious, but would ensure that millions of leaseholders finally have security they deserve.” 

Co-operatives and mutuals

Thomas Nurcombe, Senior Researcher at Bright Blue, commented:

“It is encouraging that Labour is looking to double the size of the co-operative and mutual sector. A stronger mutual sector can cure many of Britain’s economic ills and facilitate a broad, property-owning democracy. But, as with the rest of the manifesto, policy detail is very thin. When in government, they should look to implement indivisible reserves to keep capital in the mutual economy, as recommended by Bright Blue.”

Employment

Ryan Shorthouse, Executive Chair of Bright Blue, commented:

“There are plenty of economically inactive people, especially under 50s, who can work and should be incentivised to enter or rejoin the labour force. However, the National Careers Service should not just be in job centres or colleges. The service requires greater creativity in its implementation and delivery, for example in local cafes and religious settings.”

“Scrapping the age bands on the national minimum wage is a mistake if no further tax incentives or subsidies are provided to employers who recruit young people, who obviously require more training at the start of their careers.”

Early years

Ryan Shorthouse, Executive Chair of Bright Blue, commented:

“Labour is right to focus on expanding maintained nurseries attached to primary schools. Such places typically have cheaper unit costs than private, voluntary and independent (PVI) providers, as ratios are less strict with qualified teachers. Additionally, they tend to be higher quality, probably for this same reason.”

Schools

Ryan Shorthouse, Executive Chair of Bright Blue, commented:

“There is no justification for maintaining VAT exemption on private school fees, other than if the general taxpayer or average state school is better off because of it. The best available evidence suggests this is not the case. Rather, it suggests adding VAT would raise revenue which can be directed towards improving state schools.”

Apprenticeships

Ryan Shorthouse, Executive Chair of Bright Blue, commented:

“Broadening the Apprenticeship Levy so firms can spend it on a broader range of training is a mistake. The current Levy is already often being used on more expensive training for older staff.”

Asylum

Thomas Nurcombe, Senior Researcher at Bright Blue, commented:

“Labour’s asylum policy has the most clarity of all the major parties. They are right to cancel the expensive and ineffective Rwanda scheme. Cooperation with Europe is critical, and returns agreements – like that with Albania – have proved successful and will rightly be expanded.”

Tech

Sarah Kuszynski, Researcher at Bright Blue, commented:

“Aside from calling for the creation of a new Regulatory Innovation Office, which risks needlessly bloating public sector bureaucracy, Labour’s tech policies are reassuringly pro-growth. Indeed, the pledge to ease the planning barriers to the development of data centres should help meet the pressing need for computing power and so drive forward the development of frontier AI models.

“Making AI safety rules legally binding for the most high-risk models is also a welcome step towards achieving a baseline level of safety. This is not only essential for guarding against novel cybersecurity threats, but also for improving the transparency and interpretability of AI decision-making. It could go some way towards cementing the UK’s position as a leader in AI safety regulation.”

Net zero

Dr Will Prescott, Senior Researcher at Bright Blue, commented:

“It is pleasing that Labour has taken a pragmatic approach towards North Sea oil and gas. Quite sensibly, it reverses the Conservative Government’s recent and unnecessary decision to award new oil and gas licences. However, it also recognises that North Sea oil and gas will remain part of the UK energy mix for the time being, and that the offshore workforce will play a key role in the transition to net zero”.

Constitutional reform

Ryan Shorthouse, Executive Chair at Bright Blue, commented:

“Labour is right that trust in our politics desperately needs restoring. They offer some good first steps. It is unbelievable that we still have hereditary peers. Eventually, they envisage replacing the House of Lords with a revised chamber more reflective of the UK’s different nations and regions. It will be important for this to be both completely democratic and properly meritocratic.”

 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

To arrange an interview with a Bright Blue spokesperson or for further media enquiries, please contact our Senior Communications and External Affairs Officer, Emily Taylor, at emily@brightblue.org.uk or on 07841419316.

 

  • Bright Blue is the independent think tank and pressure group for liberal conservatism.
  • The Labour Party manifesto can be found here.
  • Bright Blue’s Board includes Diane Banks, Philip Clarke, Alexandra Jezeph, Richard Mabey and Ryan Shorthouse.
  • Our advisory council can be found here. We also have 228 parliamentary supporters. Members of our advisory council and our parliamentary supporters do not necessarily endorse all our policy recommendations, including those included in this press release.

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