Monday, 25 April 2016

Election 2016 - The Manifestos : Labour

(Pic : BBC Wales)

The final manifesto of the established parties was released last Tuesday (19th April) and comes from Labour, which had been criticised for delays to their manifesto's publication. They still look odds on to form the next Welsh Government at the moment so it doesn't really matter too much.

In the same manner Labour have been fashionably late publishing their manifesto – which, put it this way, isn't a heavy read - I've decided to be fashionably late in summarising it (though that's mainly because I haven't been well recently).

Tomorrow, I'll look at the minor parties (Women's Equality, Abolish the Assembly, People First etc.) in a bit more detail.

Together for Wales
(pdf - English; pdf - Cymraeg)


Health & Social Services
  • Introduce a New Treatment Fund to pay for advanced treatments for cancer and other serious diseases.
  • Invest more money per head than England on health and social care.
  • Create a single inspectorate for health and social care.
  • Reduce waiting times by eliminating unnecessary hospital attendances and GP appointments by investing in community pharmacies to treat minor illnesses.
  • "Make it easier" to get GP appointments.
  • Consider a statutory duty for candour within the Welsh NHS to promote openness.
  • Invest in integrated health and social care centres.
  • Tackle stigma associated with mental illness and improve access to therapies.
  • Introduce a "Wellbeing Bond" to invest in the best groups and activities which address sedentary lifestyles.
  • Take action to eliminate zero hours contracts in the care sector.
  • Double the capital allowance people can keep when entering residential care to £50,000.
  • Military compensation payments will be disregarded from care cost calculations.
  • Increase training and awareness of autism.

Education & Young People
  • Invest £2billion in new school and college buildings.
  • An extra £100million to drive up school standards.
  • Legislate to grant communities access to school buildings all week round.
  • Establish a task force to look at improving school behaviour.
  • Pilot "lunch and fun" clubs at schools during summer holidays.
  • Create 100,000 all-age apprenticeships.
  • All-age support for employability skills.
  • Overhaul work experience and create a stronger youth work service.
  • Provide 30 hours of free childcare per week (48 weeks in total) for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Will wait for the recommendations of the Diamond Review before changing tuition fee policies, but whatever it is, the package will be "better" that that offered to English students.
  • Will create a new higher education funding body.
  • Set a target of 95% of people getting digital skills necessary for the 21st century.
  • Supports lowering the voting age to 16.

Economic Development
  • A business accelerator support scheme to support investment, marketing, advertising and networking.
  • Support City Deals and work to make them a success; support Swansea Bay city deal bid.
  • Create a Welsh Development Bank.
  • Work with the UK Government to save the steel industry.
  • Will not reorganise business support.
  • Use regulatory powers on procurement to improve the prospects of Welsh businesses.
  • Will promote the Mersey-Dee Alliance.

Transport & Infrastructure
  • Ensure every property has access to fast, reliable broadband.
  • Demand 4G reception across 95% of Welsh customers by 2017.
  • Support roll out of electrification of the north and south Wales mainlines.
  • Support South Wales and North Wales metros.
  • Supports some sort of M4 Newport bypass and will "deliver improvements" to other trunk roads.
  • Establish a not-for-profit company to run the Wales & Borders rail franchise from 2018.
  • Press for the devolution of Air Passenger Duty.
  • Introduce "seamless ticketing" for public transport.
  • Call for the UK Government to either devolve or scrap Severn crossing tolls.
  • Will create a "more efficient" bus network once powers are devolved.

Finance & Tax
  • Will offer "a tax cut" to all small businesses, which will help up to 70,000 businesses.
  • Won't increase income tax over the next Assembly term.

Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs
  • Stretch carbon emission and landfill targets to ensure the Welsh Government becomes carbon neutral by 2020.
  • Continue investment in flood defences.
  • Support renewable energy projects, including tidal schemes.
  • Review animal welfare legislation.
  • Supports a science-led approach to bovine TB.
  • Continue to deliver the existing Rural Development Plan.

Local Government & Public Services
  • "Introduce measures" to prevent unnecessary closures of public facilities (i.e. libraries) and assist community ownership.
  • Will press ahead with local government reorganisation to create "stronger, larger" local authorities, in addition to more powerful community councils.


Housing & Social Justice
  • Deliver an extra 20,000 affordable homes over the next term.
  • End "right-to-buy".
  • Repeal sections of the UK Government's Trade Unions Bill which cover devolved areas.
  • "Take further action" on the living wage and zero hour contracts.
  • "Take action" to improve the diversity of public boards and local government.
  • Improve the reach and capacity of credit unions.

Culture
  • Continue to support the expansion of Welsh-medium education.
  • Create a Music Endowment Fund to increase access to music education.
  • Explore the possibility of an all-Wales Commonwealth Games bid in 2026.
  • Aim for one million people to speak Welsh by 2050; establish as Language Usage Fund to help businesses invest in Welsh language services.
  • Press for fair funding for both English and Welsh language broadcasting in Wales; explore options for supporting online and print media.

Constitutional Reform
  • Opposes devolving Attendance Allowance.


Major Faults :
  • No costings - one of the first arguments they throw at other parties, yet they don't do it themselves. *Shakes head*. This election was supposed to mark a growing up phase for devolution with tax and borrowing powers on the way. With the exception of the Lib Dems (and to a much lesser extent Plaid Cymru) the parties have been found wanting on the most basic issue facing them – paying for their policies. I'm not angry, just disappointed and for the establishment party to neglect it speaks volumes.
  • A 24-page manifesto, with 12 pages of that being pictures, graphics, Carwyn's foreword and a pointless addition from Nia Griffith. Let that sink in : Labour's plan for the next five years is under 3,000 words long. For a governing party this is incredibly vague. I was genuinely shocked at how thin it is.
  • The back-of-a-fag packet map for their proposed North Wales metro (which wasn't officially part of the manifesto, admittedly) has already been derided.

Minor Faults :
  • There's far too much focus on what they did in the previous term, not what they want to do in the next one.
  • Unnecessary hospital attendances and GP appointments – how will you determine what's unnecessary or not?
  • I don't get the "lunch and fun" proposal. Isn't that just like summer play schemes?
  • Their Bovine TB proposals neither rule in or rule out a possible badger cull.
  • Take further action on zero hours contracts – what action?
  • Save the steel industry – how? What will you actually do?
  • Will "introduce measures" to prevent unnecessary closures of public facilities – what measures?
  • "Make it easier" to get GP appointments – how?
  • Take further action to improve diversity in public boards – what action?
  • "Deliver improvements" to trunk roads – what improvements?
  • ....again there are so many half-addressed policies - several on every page - I'll have to leave it there. Though for some inexplicable reason, Labour have more detailed policies outlined in subject specific manifestos, particularly education.

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