Labour ‘Manifesto’: What leaked document says about Scotland

Jeremy Corbyn has caught up with Theresa May in the polls. Picture: John Devlin

Jeremy Corbyn has caught up with Theresa May in the polls. Picture: John Devlin

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Jeremy Corbyn said that the manifesto isn’t a finished article, but what does it say about Scotland?

As strategies for media management go, having your draft manifesto splashed across the front of nearly every prominent national newspaper is not the most ideal.

Jeremy Corbyn is apparently convening emergency meetings at Labour HQ after details of the party’s policy platform for the general election next month was leaked.

Labour sources are keen to stress that nothing in the leaked document is set in stone yet, but that hasn’t stopped all manner of respective cheering and scorn from supportive and opposing quarters.

READ MORE: Corbyn ‘shambles’ as manifesto leaks

Right-wing politicians and media have been quick to damn the leaked plan as a return to the days of rolling blackouts and three-day weeks.

Supporters see the manifesto as a socially democratic platform with little that should cause controversy even among centrist Labour voices.

With the current constitutional debate in Scotland, it was inevitable that the nation would merit a prominent mention.

Here’s the detail, and what politicians north of the border make of it.

The detail

Among the chatter of renationalising the railways, there is still a significant amount of investment in transport in the leaked Labour document.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party say that they would extend the controversial High Speed Two rail project to the North, Yorkshire, and Scotland.

The manifesto, amid complaints from some that the Labour party isn’t sufficiently unionist, strongly reaffirms the party’s opposition to a second referendum on independence.

READ MORE: Are Scottish Tories predicting too much success?

The document says that a a Labour Government led by Jeremy Corbyn would “campaign tirelessly to ensure that the desire to remain a part of the UK is respected”.

Mr Corbyn also seems keen to address Scotland’s flagging GDP, pledging a Scottish Investment Bank with a multi-billion pound fund to help businesses grow.

Perhaps most controversially, the manifesto draft commits a Labour Government to backing the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.

The SNP have previously put their opposition to Trident at the front and centre of a number of campaigns, and the issue was a prominent battleground at the last independence referendum.

What it doesn’t say

The manifesto says that a Corbyn government will convene a constitutional convention to discuss any possible further devolution to Scotland.

A Minister for England position would be created, though the manifesto isn’t clear on whether that would be a cabinet level position.

No matter who wins, it seems that there will need to be a re-ordering of the Department for Communities and Local Government after the creation of a number of mayors.

English votes for English laws doesn’t merit a mention in the manifesto, which can possibly be taken as a sign that Labour have no plans to repeal the controversial policy first espoused by David Cameron in the wake of the referendum of 2014.

Notably, the document doesn’t make any mention of a new Act of Union, an idea that was mooted to mixed reviews by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

Despite not being an official rebuke, it does seem to be an indication that Ms Dugdale’s considerations on the constitutional question haven’t moved much debate at the UK level.

Reaction

Rejoicing at the misfortune of a rival politician might not be sportsmanlike conduct in the conduct sport of an election, but that hasn’t stopped crowing from Labour’s opponents.

The SNP took the leak as a sign that Labour was in chaos, and that the uninspiring leadership of Mr Corbyn could let an emboldened Theresa May away with murder with an increased majority.

Their candidate for Edinburgh East, Tommy Sheppard, said: “The chaos inside Labour shows that now more than ever, it is vital to have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland - only then can we protect Scotland from the dangers of an unopposed Tory government at Westminster.

“The very fact that this draft manifesto has been leaked shows how divided and chaotic the Labour party are - most of their MPs do not even support these policies.”

Even Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale was unimpressed that the manifesto her candidates will partly stand on had been leaked.

She said that it “wasn’t ideal” that details of the document had found their way onto the pages of the press.

Ms Dugdale also said: “There’s a lot of really good, solid ideas in there that all deserve to have their own ideas discussed in the pubs and town centres and streets of the country. It is a shame it has all been leaked in that sense.”

With only minor tweaks to the manifesto expected, it will mean searching for even more detail, analysis, and reaction when the official document is released next week.

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