General election: I’m an evil Blairite but I like Corbyn’s manifesto – Ayesha Hazarika

Labour’s manifesto is full-fat Corbynism, but will the public buy it and can we afford it, wonders Ayesha Hazarika.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during the launch of his party's manifesto in Birmingham. (Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during the launch of his party's manifesto in Birmingham. (Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

As one of those evil, neo-liberal, Blairite, Jo Swinson-loving, Red Tory scum bastards, I’ll whisper this as it will ruin my reputation: I quite like the Labour manifesto.

There. I said it.

As someone who has worked in politics since 1997 and who loves all the inside-baseball detail of the business, I confess, I always found manifestos the least exciting bit. They were dull, boring, opaque and felt like wading through treacle.

I can’t actually remember anything about Labour manifestos after 1997, apart from a really weird cover in 2010 which reminded me of that creepy film Children of the Corn.

No policy announcement stood out, other than we were trying to advance a complicated post-financial crash “investment versus cuts” argument which did not make for winning doorstep bantz.

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Our 2015 manifesto, which at the time everyone thought was socialism gone mad, was still super tame. The only stand-out policy was an energy price cap freeze and we had a giant plastic ice cube made, which the shadow cabinet got a selfie with. That was pretty much it.

But the past is a different country. Looking back at the 2010 and 2015 manifestos, the central theme was economic responsibility and balancing the books, which was a big thing back then.

Anyone remember the deficit? Millennials, google it.

As a political adviser working with senior politicians, it was hard work coming up with manifesto ideas, as we were told over and over again there was no money.

It was pretty dispiriting, fighting in vain for causes which weren’t popular or fashionable, like arts and culture in local communities which were seen as a frippery. We became risk averse and lacking in ambition.

But all that changed with Jeremy Corbyn.

Whatever your views on Corbyn, his biggest political achievement has been to change the narrative and make austerity a dirty word.

The famed 2017 manifesto was very much the star of that election, although pretty moderate compared to what’s now been announced.

Given that you would be lucky to have just one sexy retail offer from a manifesto, there is an embarrassment of riches.

There’s so much stuff. And it’s good. What’s not to love if you’re a progressive? It’s like political Black Friday – fill your boots!

I’m secretly quite jealous of the people who helped write this, as it would have been so liberating, exciting and fun to not be cowed by boring financial constraints and come up with your dream policies instead.

For me, the key would have been the cultural offer and everything I craved is in there.

But it’s not about me. What will the public think?

Out door knocking yesterday afternoon in Sheffield Heeley, it hadn’t really cut through, but it was early days. Although people are still talking about the broadband story.

Having had too little, will there now ironically be too much to communicate to people?

Will the sheer volume of goodies thrill or terrify? Will people believe it can be delivered and that the country can afford it (boo – sorry kids)?

We won’t know until December 13. But this is full-fat Corbynism.

Sometimes in politics, you need to make a strong choice and go for it. He certainly did that with this manifesto.