alliance, anthony wedgewood benn, conservative party, cuts, elections, general election 1983, gerald kaufman, house of commons, labour, labour party, liberal party, manifesto, manifestos, margaret thatcher, marxism, marxist, mi5, mi6, michael foot, militant, militant tendency, nuclear disarmament, sdp, socialism, socialist, suicide note, tony benn, tony blair
With Tony Benn’s death (14 March 2014) lots of people have been recalling the Labour Party’s 1983 election manifesto, which Labour MP Gerald Kaufman memorably dubbed ‘the longest suicide note in history’. The manifesto was considerably more Left-wing than any the party had previously issued, motivating many voters to abandon Labour in favour of the Liberal-SDP Alliance, and so granting Margaret Thatcher an expanded majority in the House of Commons, even though she received 686,000 fewer votes at the ballot box than in 1979.
Tony Benn, who was himself unseated in the 1983 election, nonetheless liked to think of the manifesto as a triumph. He had had a big part in writing it and an even bigger part in creating a party leadership that would accept it. As Benn saw it, the manifesto and associated defeat were to be welcomed because for the first time millions of Britons had voted for true socialism. Over the years, he believed that the number of British people who would support socialist policies would grow, so that eventually really radical social and economic change could come about through the democratic process.
As we now know, this certainly wasn’t what happened in the 31 years following Labour’s 1983 collapse. Instead the party had to learn to moderate itself, systematically expunging all meaningful references to socialism from its vocabulary and turning itself into a movement that primarily sought to appeal to the not-too-cruel (but not-too-nice) middle classes. Benn was an essential catalyst for this transformation, perhaps the essential catalyst – but only in a negative way.
Meanwhile, as he watched British Labour become more and more anaemic, he was forced to observe other varieties of state socialism being weakened and dismantled throughout the world, too, with the market becoming king again to a greater extent than at any time since the 1930s. He did his best to counter this trend, joining and actively participating in the anti-war, anti-globalisation and anti-poverty campaigns that are socialism’s main field of action today – but these movements are, like Benn was, brimming with positive energy yet with little in the way of real power.
Very few people ever read manifestos in full. But if you are interested in what socialism is, or was, or might be once again, it is worth taking a few minutes to flick through the 1983 Labour Manifesto (reproduced in full below). It was the work of some of the most principled and idealistic men and women ever to sit in the House of Commons and ever to come remotely close to running this country. But what would life have been like if they had won? Which policies still sound desirable to you? And which now strike you, or would always have struck you, as utterly crazy? Finally, isn’t it surprising how much of the rhetoric remains exactly the same, irrespective of shifting times and ideologies: in particular, the arguments over borrowing for growth versus spending that the country can’t afford? The manifesto is honest about the fact that some of the money Labour needs will have to be ‘borrowed’ and then refers to this as ‘Mrs Thatcher’s dirty word’! I wonder if next year’s Labour manifesto will have to say something similar…
If you remember the 1983 election or if reading the manifesto provokes a reaction in you, please feel free to share your thoughts using the comment box at the end of the post.
THE NEW HOPE FOR BRITAIN
LABOUR’S MANIFESTO 1983
Here you can read Labour’s plan to do the things crying out to be done in our country today.
To get Britain back to work. To rebuild our shattered industries. To get rid of the ever-growing dole queues. To protect and enlarge our National Health Service and our other great social services. To help stop the nuclear arms race. Here you can see what Labour is determined to do, and how we shall set about it.
But at once the objection is raised: Can we afford it? Where will the money come from? Are we not just making promises which cannot be fulfilled?
You will find the detailed answers here. But let us emphasise a few of them at once.
The first short, sharp answer is that what Britain cannot afford is the present policy of accepting mass unemployment.
Mass unemployment on the scale Mrs. Thatcher and her government have been prepared to tolerate – worse than we have ever known before and worse than any other industrial country has experienced – imposes a crushing burden on the whole community.
Of course it hits hardest the young denied work altogether, and their mothers and fathers thrown out of their jobs with little chance of getting another.
But it also hits the whole country.
Mass unemployment costs the country £15 billion, £16 billion, £17 billion a year, astronomic figures never conceived possible before, and they move higher still every month.
Mass unemployment is the main reason why most families in Britain, all but the very rich, are paying more in taxes today than they did four years ago when the Conservatives promised to cut them for everybody.
Mass unemployment is the main reason why we are wasting our precious North Sea oil riches. Since 1979 Mrs. Thatcher’s government has had the benefit of £20 billion in tax revenues from the North Sea. It has all been swallowed by the huge, mounting cost of mass unemployment. And the oil won’t last for ever, although, according to Mrs. Thatcher’s economics, the unemployment will.
Our country, no civilised country, can afford the human waste, the industrial and economic waste, involved in these policies. We in the Labour Party reject them absolutely, and we describe in this Manifesto the real constructive alternative, and how we shall pay for it.
See, first, our Emergency Programme of Action to be started immediately we are given the power. Most of these measures are designed to start the drive for expansion, and the cost of them has been added up. How fast can the country escape for the present stagnant rut?
That is the real question.
Just a week before Sir Geoffrey Howe, the Tory Chancellor, produced his last Budget to keep us in the rut, Peter Shore, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, produced his budget for expansion.
The costs he set out – an £11 billion expansion – would cover, as they were designed to cover, the items we have listed in the Emergency Programme, the promises we have tabulated.
So little is it true that Labour has not counted the cost. No party in opposition has ever stated its intentions so clearly and comprehensively.
Then what happens? What happens after the first expansion is launched? Here in these pages we describe the conditions for success, the pace we can move forward, how that will depend on the response we can secure from all sections of the community, on the partnership we have established with the trade unions. Without that continuing partnership to rebuild our country, all else will fail. True enough; but Labour is the only party which has worked for this partnership and pledges it for the future.
And where will the money come from? Some of it will come from those oil revenues now pouring down the drain. Some of it will come from the billions we waste on the dole queues. Some of it will come from the billions now being allowed to be exported in investment abroad.
Yes, and some of it will be borrowed, Mrs. Thatcher’s dirty word.
But borrowing in that sense is what every intelligent government since the war in Britain has done – including even Conservative governments. Borrowing in that sense is what has been done by other governments in this world slump who have kept their unemployment much lower than ours – and their inflation rates low too.
Of course the slump can be beaten, if we have the will and the right policies. The European governments which have survived it best have been mostly socialist governments rejecting Thatcherite nostrums. And the whole wider experience of the Western world since 1945 proves what can be done when governments set before them full employment as a target. Is it truly realistic and practical to cast all that knowledge aside?
It is just not true that mass unemployment must be accepted.
Rather, if nothing can be done about unemployment, nothing truly enduring can be done about anything else. Allow it to persist and it will corrode the rest of our society. It will make more deeply endemic than ever the injustices, the bitter hardships, which afflict so many of our people.
So let’s put a stop to defeatism, and put a stop too to all those sermons about Victorian values. The labour movement – the Labour Party and the trade unions acting together – came into being, as one of our poets, Idris Davies, said, to end “the long Victorian night”. It was a fight to introduce civilised standards into the world of ruthless, devil-take-the-hindmost individualism.
Particularly after our 1945 victory, when Labour had a majority, we set to work creating a real community in which the strong would come to the aid of the weak, in which the profit test would have to make way for the human test.
It was the Labour Party which created – to take just one example – the National Health Service, in the teeth of bitter Tory opposition. Labour will come to the rescue of that service and make it worthy of those who founded it, those who serve it, and the patients who need it most of all. It is a commonsense example of democratic socialism in action.
Of course, we know that the full work of rebuilding will not be easy. Of course we know that, thanks to world conditions and the Conservative years of destruction and decay, our task is made much harder.
But the programme of socialist reconstruction outlined in these pages, can be carried through if a Labour government commands the support of the other great democratic institutions in the land – in particular the local authorities and the trade unions.
Labour is the only party which desires and can secure the working partnership between the government and the trade unions essential to national recovery.
Above all, the new Labour government will play a much more ambitious part in helping to guide the nation towards peace, and, as an essential part of the process, in establishing a sensible defence policy for our country.
One bunch of smears and scares with which Tory propagandists have already disfigured this election campaign suggests that the Labour Party proposes to throw away our defences, to abandon our alliances.
It is just not true. And it should not be forgotten that one of the last acts of Mrs. Thatcher’s government was to stop the debate in the House of Commons when these slanders could have been nailed.
What we do propose to do is to get rid of the nuclear boomerangs which offer no genuine protection to our people but, first and foremost, to help stop the nuclear arms race which is the most dangerous threat to us all.
One of the most wretched features of the present government’s record has been the low interest they have devoted to the work of securing international disarmament. No British initiative of any significance in this field has been taken.
Instead, the programme for establishing American-controlled Cruise missiles on our soil has been accepted without question, and the Trident programme for the expansion of the British-controlled nuclear forces has been accepted without reference to the possibilities of disarmament.
Indeed, the logic of the case for the nuclear deterrent, presented by British Conservative Ministers, is that all peace-loving countries should equip themselves with the same protection. It is a logic which would intensify the race and destroy the universe.
The first task of a new Labour government will be to restore a sense of sanity in dealing with these supreme questions. We offer a combined programme of action by this country and of action in association with other countries.
We are the only party that offers such a programme to meet the scale of the challenge. We are the only party that offers a non-nuclear defence policy.
But we are not alone in our plans and our aspirations. Multitudes of people in many other lands, on both sides of the Atlantic, in Asia and Africa and Europe too, are ready to join us in the campaign for a nuclear freeze, for fresh exertions to stop the proliferation of these weapons, to stop the whole monstrous nuclear race to destruction.
In this campaign document we set out Labour’s alternative to mass unemployment. We explain how a Labour government will help to stop the nuclear arms race. We provide a radical programme of action, for a full, five-year parliament, to save British industry and rebuild the welfare state.
The years of Tory failure
When the Tories took office in May 1979, unemployment was falling and the economy growing. Living standards had gone up by a sixth in two years, and North Sea oil held out the prospect of economic growth, high levels of employment and better social services.
All this was thrown away by the Tories. Nearly three and a quarter million men and women are now out of work, even on the official count. Plant after plant forced to close. Manufacturing production down by a fifth. Investment cut by a third. Our domestic markets captured by imports of manufactured goods.
After four years of Mrs. Thatcher, Britain is a poorer country. We have fared far worse than any other major industrial country. The unprecedented advantage of North Sea oil and gas – worth, in tax revenues alone, 8p in the pound on income tax – has been squandered, with nothing whatsoever to show for it.
What have all these sacrifices achieved? Our economy today is weaker, not stronger, than in 1979. There is no prospect of real economic growth. Indeed, the Tories no longer dare to predict when unemployment will begin to fall. True enough, inflation, after being forced to record levels by the Tories, has been brought down. But look at the cost in jobs, in poorer housing, in living standards, and in lost opportunities for our youth. And now inflation is set to increase again, with interest rates and mortgage rates likely to rise too.
The legacy of four Tory years goes beyond unemployment and industrial decline; beyond the damage done to our social services; beyond even the dangerous commitment to new nuclear weapons. It is expressed in the deep sense of bitterness, distrust and despair now felt among so many sections of the community. Our task will be to heal these wounds and rekindle among the British people a new sense of unity and common purpose.
Emergency programme of action
Within days of taking office, Labour will begin to implement an emergency programme of action, to bring about a complete change of direction for Britain. Our priority will be to create jobs and give a new urgency to the struggle for peace. In many cases we will be able to act immediately. In others, which involve legislation, they will take longer to bring into effect. But in all cases we shall act swiftly and with determination.
This is what we plan to do. We will:
Launch a massive programme for expansion.
Provide a major increase in public investment, including transport, housing and energy conservation.
Begin a huge programme of construction, so that we can start to build our way out of the slump.
Halt the destruction of our social services and begin to rebuild them, by providing a substantial increase in resources.
Increase investment in industry, especially in new technology – with public enterprise taking the lead. And we will steer new industry and jobs to the regions and the inner cities.
Ensure that the pound is competitive; and hold back prices through action on VAT, rents, rates and fares.
Introduce a crash programme of employment and training, with new job subsidies and allowances.
Begin to rebuild British industry, working within a new framework for planning and industrial democracy.
Agree a new national economic assessment, setting out the prospects for growth in the economy.
Prepare a five-year national plan, in consultation with unions and employers. Back up these steps with a new National Investment Bank, new industrial powers, and a new Department for Economic and Industrial Planning.
Repeal Tory legislation on industrial relations and make provision for introducing industrial democracy.
Begin the return to public ownership of those public industries sold off by the Tories.
Start to create a fairer Britain, with decent social services for all.
Raise child benefits by £2 a week, and give special help to one-parent families and families with disabled dependants.
Uprate the pension in November 1983 by the full amount needed to protect against inflation; and increase pensions by £1.45 a week for a single person and £2.25 for a married couple.
Provide more resources for the health service with an increase of at least 3 per cent a year in real terms.
Improve the personal social services, such as meals on wheels and home helps, with an increase of at least 4 per cent a year in real terms.
Spend more on education, including on essential books and equipment; end the assisted places scheme; and stop selection in secondary schools.
Begin to develop comprehensive care for the under-fives.
Begin to develop a strategy to eliminate low pay.
Introduce positive action programmes to promote women’s rights and opportunities, and appoint a cabinet minister to promote equality between the sexes.
Strengthen the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act.
Improve child care and other social services.
Take steps to end discrimination in education and training.
Reverse Tory cuts in maternity rights.
Increase the maternity grant.
Encourage and assist local authorities to begin a massive programme of house-building and improvement, through an immediate 50 per cent increase in their housing investment programmes. Priority will go to the urgent repair and replacement of run-down estates. We will freeze all rents for the first full year.
Begin a major programme to stop the waste of energy. We will stop Sizewell and abandon the Tory PWR programme; and open urgent discussions, with the unions and management in the coal industry, on a new Plan for Coal.
Give more help to public transport, with funds to improve services, keep down fares, and increase investment – especially in rail electrification and better freight facilities. Councils will be given new powers to support local services.
Act to improve the environment and deal with pollution – including a ban on lead in petrol. An urgent start will be made on improving our inner cities, including action on derelict land and buildings.
Introduce a positive action programme for the ethnic minorities. We will also introduce citizenship and immigration laws which do not discriminate against either women or black and Asian Britons.
Give a new priority to open government at local and national levels, and give local communities greater freedom to manage their own affairs. We will also introduce an early Bill to abolish the legislative powers of the House of Lords.
In international policy, we shall take new initiatives to promote peace and development. We will:
Cancel the Trident programme, refuse to deploy Cruise missiles and begin discussions for the removal of nuclear bases from Britain, which is to be completed within the lifetime of the Labour government.
Ban arms sales to repressive regimes.
Increase aid to developing countries towards the UN target of 0.7 per cent.
Re-establish a separate Ministry of Overseas Development.
Take action to protect the status of refugees in Britain.
We will also open immediate negotiations with our EEC partners, and introduce the necessary legislation, to prepare for Britain’s withdrawal from the EEC, to be completed well within the lifetime of the Labour government.
A five-year programme
Labour’s emergency programme of action will get Britain on the road to recovery. But on its own it will not be enough to establish a fairer, more prosperous, more caring Britain.
The programme we set out in the pages which follow is, therefore, for a full, five-year term of office. Clearly, we cannot do everything at once. The economy has been dangerously weakened by the Tories, and Britain is considerably poorer than when we were last in government. The world recession could hamper our plans for economic revival.
Moreover, our proposals add up to a considerable increase in public spending. Our programme is thus heavily dependent upon the achievement of our basic objectives: namely, a large and sustained increase in the nation’s output and income and a matching decline in the numbers out of work. It is this that will make the resources available for higher public spending programmes and cut the enormous cost of unemployment. Even so, some of our commitments will be phased in over a number of years. At each stage, clearly, we shall have to choose carefully our priorities.
Ending mass unemployment
The present hideous level of unemployment is not an accident It is the direct result of the policies of this government. The Tories have cut public investment and services, and increased taxes, taking spending power out of the economy and destroying jobs in both public and private sectors alike. They have forced up interest rates and kept the pound too high – a combination that has crippled British industry, and helped lose us markets at home and abroad.
Our approach is different. We will expand the economy, by providing a strong and measured increase in spending. Spending money creates jobs. Money spent on railway electrification means jobs, not only in construction, but also in the industries that supply the equipment – as well as faster and better trains. If we increase pensions and child benefits, it means more spending power for the elderly and for parents, more bought in shops, more orders for goods, and more jobs in the factories. More spending means that the economy will begin to expand: and growth will provide the new wealth for higher wages and better living standards, the right climate for industry to invest, and more resources for the public services.
Our central aim will be to reduce unemployment to below a million within five years of taking office. We recognise the enormous scale of this task. When we set this as our target, unemployment was 2.8 million, according to the official figures. On this basis it is now at least 3.2 million. Our target will thus be all the more difficult to achieve. It remains, however, the central objective of our economic policy.
To achieve it we will need five years of economic growth, with a Labour government carrying through all of the industrial, financial and economic policies outlined here. But we will also work with other governments – especially socialist governments – to bring about a co-ordinated expansion of our economies.
Economic expansion will make it possible to end the waste of mass unemployment. But it will also reduce the human costs of unemployment – the poverty, the broken homes, the increase in illness and suicides. And it will provide the resources we need to increase social spending, as we must, at least in line with the growth of the economy.
How will we pay for it?
Given our commitment to increase public spending, it is right that people should ask: how will we pay for it?
It would be wrong to finance the initial boost to spending by increasing taxation. Only if ours was a fully employed economy would this be the right way of doing it. But our economy today is chronically under-employed. We have people out of work, idle plant, and unused savings. To finance expansion by increasing taxation in these circumstances would be wrong. For the increased spending in one part of the economy would be cancelled out by decreased expenditure elsewhere. Of course, once the economy gets much nearer to full employment, some taxes will have to be increased, both to shift the tax balance towards those who can best afford to pay, and to help finance our social programme.
Like any other expanding industrial enterprise, we shall borrow to finance our programme of investment. This is better than borrowing, as the Tories are doing, in order to pay for the dole queue or to provide finance for the Argentine government to buy arms.
There is no shortage of savings in the country available for borrowing today. Indeed, vast amounts of British money – more than the government’s total borrowing requirement last year – are flowing into overseas investment. For with our present slump, there is not the demand for investment here.
But the scale of borrowing will not be nearly as great as the increase in spending. Spending generates new income and new savings. As the economy recovers we shall be able to spend less on keeping people unemployed. And when people get jobs they will also pay income tax and spend more on goods which are taxed. Last year benefit payments, and tax revenues foregone – because of unemployment – cost the nation some £17,000 million. There are also important savings to be made by cancelling the present government 5 massive expenditure programmes on Trident and on PWR nuclear reactors.
At the heart of our programme is Labour’s new partnership with the trade unions. Our policies have been worked out with them. The Tories take pride in rejecting any chance of constructive co-operation with the trade unions. But it is the nation that has paid the price – the economy in ruins, and industrial relations a battlefield. We believe that there is a better way: to harness the goodwill and co-operation of working people and to work together to create a better life for all.
Our starting point in government will be to discuss and agree with the trade unions a national economic assessment, as described in our joint statement with the TUC, Partners in Rebuilding Britain. This will set out the likely growth in the national output and how it could be shared. It will cover the allocation of resources, and the distribution of income between profits, earnings from employment, rents, social benefits and other incomes. It will also take into account our policies on the redistribution of income and wealth, not least through the reform of taxation. It will take a view on what changes in costs and prices would be compatible with our economic and social objectives, and help to ensure that our plan for expansion is not undermined by inflation. We will not, however, return to the old policies of government-imposed wage restraint. The assessment will thus play a crucial part in our national plan.
The assessment will also play an important role in Labour’s plans for the redistribution of wealth and power in our society. For, as we emphasise in Labour’s Programme, our aim is nothing less than to bring about ‘a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people and their families’.
An offensive against low pay
The next Labour government will launch an offensive against low pay as part of our strategy for equality. The problem of low pay remains acute both in relative and absolute terms. If low pay at present is defined as less than two-thirds of average male manual earnings, there were 3 million full-time low-paid workers in 1982, of whom over 2 million were women workers. Adding to these figures young workers, part-time workers and homeworkers produces a total in the region of almost 6 million – a great majority of whom are women.
We will work together with the unions to tackle low pay and extend the concept of fair wages and arbitration. We will strengthen the Equal Pay Act. We strongly emphasise the principles of fairness and proper comparability, and will ensure machinery is available for the trade unions to establish these principles. We will also discuss with the TUC the possibility of introducing a minimum wage.
Industrial democracy is vital to the success of the national plan. We believe that working people must have clear and definite rights to a say in running their firms – and to an influence in economic planning. We will give new statutory rights to workers – through their trade unions – on information, consultation and representation within their companies. These are described in our joint statement with the TUC, Economic Planning and Industrial Democracy. But we will work out with the unions concerned what this means for the individual industries and firms.
We will repeal the divisive Tory ’employment’ laws and provide new statutory support for collective bargaining. We will also give proper employment protection to women and to homeworkers, part-time workers and temporary workers.
The Tories’ cut-backs in the work of the Health and Safety Commission will be reversed. Labour will actively support the commission and the role of joint safety committees in the work place.
Safeguards for expansion
Increased spending will not be enough to ensure sustained economic growth. Spending will not create jobs if it is soaked up by imports. We must not allow firms to use a return to growth as an excuse to put up prices. It will, in addition, be essential to co-ordinate expansion so proper investment is made for the future.
First, we will see that our financial and monetary policies support expansion. We will make sure that public borrowing is financed, through the financial institutions and national savings, without disruptive or damaging changes in interest rates.
Second, exchange controls – maintained by successive British governments since 1939; and so foolishly scrapped by the Tories in 1979 – will be re-introduced. This will help to counter currency speculation and to make available – to industry and government in Britain – the large capital resources that are now flowing overseas.
Third, we must ensure that our trade and balance of payments contribute to our expansion. This means maintaining the pound at a realistic and competitive rate. Tory monetary policies have kept interest rates far too high, pushing the pound beyond its competitive value. An overpriced pound taxes exports and subsidises imports. Our balance of trade, other than North Sea oil, has been seriously damaged as a result. A competitive exchange rate will assist British exports abroad and make British goods more competitive at home.
A policy for imports
But we must also plan ahead so that, as the economy expands, we keep our exports and imports in balance. We must therefore be ready to act on imports directly: first, in order to safeguard key industries that have been seriously put at risk by Tory policy; and second, so as to check the growth of imports should they threaten to outstrip our exports and thus our plan for expansion. We will:
Use agreed development plans, which we shall negotiate with the large companies that dominate our economy, so as to influence their purchasing and development policies. Our aim will be to prevent excessive import penetration and promote our own exports.
Use public purchasing policy to help support our strategy.
Introduce back-up import controls, using tariffs and quotas, if these prove necessary, to achieve our objective of trade balance – upon which sustained expansion depends.
Our purpose in trade policy is not to reduce trade but to make possible an orderly expansion of imports, paid for by our growing export trade. We will thus be able to replace the present policies of deflation, which restrict world trade, by policies of expansion, which increase world trade. We will also encourage international action for expansion and increased world trade.
Within the framework of an orderly expansion of trade, we will also seek to give real preferences to imports from developing countries, particularly from the poorest countries, except where this will create acute problems for particular industries in this country.
Prices – controlling inflation
The Tories have used mass unemployment to control inflation. We completely reject this approach. We believe it is madness to keep people out of work deliberately. Our priority will be to expand the economy and create jobs. But we are also determined to prevent soaring prices. Expansion will in itself help cut the costs of production and therefore hold back prices. But we will use other measures to help restrain inflation. We will:
Use direct measures of price restraint, such as cutting VAT, and subsidies on basic products, to cut into inflation as and when necessary.
Stop using public sector charges, such as gas prices – up by 116 per cent since 1979 – as a back-door way of raising taxes, as the Tories have done.
Buy our food where it is cheaper, on world markets, following Britain’s withdrawal from the EEC.
Give powers to a new Price Commission to investigate companies, monitor price increases and order price freezes and reductions. These controls will be closely linked to our industrial planning, through agreed development plans with the leading, price-setting firms.
Take full account of these measures in the national economic assessment, to be agreed each year with the trade unions. The assessment will also take account of the impact of cost increases on the future rate of inflation.
Value for money
The Tories say that ‘competition’ ensures that shoppers get a fair deal. The customers know better. Stronger legal safeguards are essential to protect customers – not least from shoddy goods. And shoppers must know their rights and be able to enforce them. We will undertake an urgent and comprehensive review of consumer law and reform it. We will also bring in new safeguards on advertising. We will:
Establish a major public service facility – a Product Research Unit – to test products and manufacturers’ claims about them, and to publicise the results widely.
Set up consumer advice centres in all main shopping centres, with mobile units for rural areas.
Provide simple court procedures for small claims, stronger trade codes of practice placed on to a statutory basis, and adequate penalties for trading offences.
See that all public enterprises give a high priority to dealing with consumer complaints and needs – and back them with stronger consumer councils.
Introduce a code of advertising practice, on a statutory basis, to be administered by the office of Fair Trading; and provide powers to order advertisements to be substantiated, withdrawn, or corrected with equal prominence.
Rebuilding our industry
The Tories have been a disaster for British industry. Plants and companies have closed, skilled workers have been laid off, markets at home and abroad have been lost to our competitors. Industry has not invested enough, and it has failed to develop and exploit the new technologies as successfully as other industrial countries.
We must rebuild our industrial strength – and we can do so under a Labour Government working together with unions and managers, to plan Britain’s industrial development. Our aim is not just to save companies and factories from closing down. We intend to create new companies and new science-based industries – using new public enterprise to lead the way, and supported by the development of industrial democracy.
In our joint statement with the TUC, Economic Planning and Industrial Democracy, and in Labour’s Programme 1982, we show how it can be done. We will:
Develop a new five-year national plan to coordinate expansion and public spending with plans for individual industries and regions. We will create a powerful new Department of Economic and Industrial Planning.
Involve the trade unions and management in planning at every level with a new, tripartite National Planning Council.
Link planning at all levels firmly to a radical extension of industrial democracy. New statutory rights will enable workers to draw up plans for their own enterprises and sectors of industry, which we will seek to incorporate into our strategy.
Make our planning flexible, so that it is able to respond quickly to changing circumstances and take full account of changing needs and preferences. We are opposed to any kind of rigid planning from the centre. But we will seek to develop a firm sense of strategic direction.
Negotiate agreed development plans with all leading companies – national and multinational, public and private – so that such companies play a constructive role in supporting the national plan and our plans for individual regions and sectors.
Support these agreed development plans with new industrial powers, including discretionary price controls, financial support and access to credit; and take powers to invest in individual companies, to purchase them outright or to assume temporary control.
Monitor closely the activities of multinational companies, through a Foreign Investment Unit. All UK-based multinationals will have to operate within clearly laid-down guidelines.
Develop regional development plans, with plans also being drawn up at local level by local authorities. Regional development agencies will be established, extending our present commitment to a Northern Development Agency to other English regions in need of them. These agencies will have similar powers and resources to those in Scotland and Wales. We will also consider using new regional job subsidies.
Strengthen the NEB, the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies, and the Industrial Development Board in Northern Ireland. We will give them, and the new development agencies, adequate resources for investment and acquisition.
We will use public and co-operative enterprise to support our planning and as a major source of technical innovation. We will:
Encourage and help existing public enterprises to expand and diversify. They will be given far more freedom to raise funds on capital markets.
Return to public ownership the public assets and rights hived off by the Tories, with compensation of no more than that received when the assets were denationalised. We will establish a significant public stake in electronics, pharmaceuticals, health equipment and building materials; and also in other important sectors, as required in the national interest.
Give generous encouragement and help to worker co-operatives and local enterprise boards. We will establish a Co-operative Investment Bank. The development agencies and local authorities will be empowered to support and to help establish co operatives and local enterprise boards. We will give new rights to workers to convert their firms into co-operatives.
Labour will also support key industries in the public sector. We will:
Prevent the further decline of both public and private sectors of the steel industry so that the industry can, through planned investment, meet the rising demand from economic expansion. We will retain the five major BSC plants and see that a larger share of the home market is met from UK production. A major public presence will also be established in the steel stock-holding industry.
Develop our aerospace industries. We will ensure that proper levels of research, development and investment take place, and that the industries have the capacity and skills needed to compete as equals in the world market. The British Aerospace Corporation will be re-established as a major public enterprise.
Support the shipbuilding industry, which is vital for a maritime nation such as Britain, with interests in merchant shipping, the Navy, offshore oil and gas resources and fishing. Labour will establish a maritime strategy embracing both shipbuilding and shipping interests. We will re establish the British Shipbuilding Corporation as a public sector company with a new financial basis and adequate resources for investment.
A national cable system will make possible a wide range of new telecommunications services, greater variety in the provision of television, and a major stimulus to British technology and industry. But it must be under firm public control. A publicly-owned British Telecommunications will thus be given the sole responsibility to create a national, broadband network (including Mercury, the new privately-owned telecommunications system for business), which integrates telecommunications and broadcasting.
Science and technology
Science and technology are essential to Britain’s economic and social regeneration. The Tories have undermined research and development in the science-based research industries of the future. Cuts in higher education threaten our fundamental research. Industry devotes less to research and development than any other of our major industrial competitors. Defence accounts for over 80 per cent of government research funds in industry.
The fall in output, together with the lack of planning and retraining, has meant that new technology has brought major job losses in some sectors. Only Labour can plan new technology to meet our commitment to full employment. We will:
Guarantee adequate funding for higher education, the research councils and government research establishments.
Use the National Investment Bank to channel funds from the financial institutions into long-term investment in new technology.
Work together with trade unions to plan an expansion of new technology, in particular using it to aid a product-based recovery of the economy. New technology agreements, for proper safeguards and retraining for the work-force, will be extended.
Strengthen the links between research by higher education and industry to help greater industrial innovation.
Increase technological literacy in schools and give boys and girls equal opportunities to study science and technology.
Promote the supply of engineers and technicians, including women, to meet the needs of industry and the community.
Ensure that research and development are directed towards society’s needs, with a reduction in the present high proportion of defence research.
Promote the development and use of new information and communication services to support a wider democracy.
Finance for industry
It is essential that industry has the finance it needs to support our plans for increased investment. Our proposals are set out in full in our Conference statement, The Financial Institutions. We will:
Establish a National Investment Bank to put new resources from private institutions and from the government – including North Sea oil revenues – on a large scale into our industrial priorities. The bank will attract and channel savings, by agreement, in a way that guarantees these savings and improves the quality of investment in the UK.
Exercise, through the Bank of England, much closer direct control over bank lending. Agreed development plans will be concluded with the banks and other financial institutions.
Create a public bank operating through post offices, by merging the National Girobank, National Savings Bank and the Paymaster General’s Office.
Set up a Securities Commission to regulate the institutions and markets of the City, including Lloyds, within a clear statutory framework.
Introduce a new Pension Schemes Act to strengthen members’ rights in occupational pension schemes, clarify the role of trustees, and give members a right to equal representation, through their trade unions, on controlling bodies of the schemes.
Set up a tripartite investment monitoring agency to advise trustees and encourage improvements in investment practices and strategies.
We expect the major clearing banks to co operate with us fully on these reforms, in the national interest. However, should they fail to do so, we shall stand ready to take one or more of them into public ownership. This will not in any way affect the integrity of customers’ deposits.
Employment and training
The long-term unemployed – the men and women who have suffered most from the Tory onslaught – will benefit directly from economic expansion and our policies on regional development. But special measures are also needed. By the end of our first five years, our aim is that no-one will be out of work for more than a year without receiving an offer of a job or training place.
We will act quickly to save jobs and stop the further destruction of industry. We will expand the schemes for compensating firms that avoid redundancy and provide temporary jobs for the long-term unemployed. We will widen the Job Release Scheme and offer employment subsidies to firms, linked to agreements with them to preserve and create jobs. We will also provide major increases in youth and adult training, with special provision for women, ethnic minorities and the disabled; and integrate a reformed Youth Training Scheme into our scheme for a two-year student-traineeship.
Industry has been badly hit by the collapse of training under the Tories. Expansion must not be held back by shortages of skilled labour; and people without work must have the skills needed to take up the available jobs. We will:
Introduce a new statutory framework, linking adult training with initial training. This will also place a statutory duty on employers to carry out training and establish joint workplace training committees. Adequate funds will be provided jointly by industry and government.
Give the Manpower Services Commission the authority and resources it needs to do the job. The commission will develop its regional and local structures, advise companies on their plans for manpower, and get advance notice of redundancies.
Ensure that the MSC develops a national job centre network and reverses the cutbacks in occupational guidance and help for disadvantaged job seekers. We will take urgent steps to abolish private employment agencies.
Working time in Britain, over the life time of individual workers, is among the highest in industrial countries. We will work through collective bargaining to reduce working time; and this will include more flexible working arrangements, more time off for study, longer holidays, earlier voluntary retirement with adequate pensions – with progress towards our aim of a common pension age of 60 – and a 35 hour week.
Equal rights at work
Labour’s aim is to create equal rights at work for women and to overcome the effects of past discrimination. We will:
Expand Positive Action Programmes to eliminate discrimination, change employment practices and introduce special training schemes to equip women to enter non-traditional areas of work.
Carry out these programmes throughout the public sector, ensure that public-sector contracts include a commitment to positive action, and press employers and unions to negotiate these programmes through joint equal opportunities committees at the workplace. These proposals will be backed, if necessary, by a statutory duty on employers.
Strengthen the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts to make them more effective. We will shift the burden of proof from the complainant to the alleged discriminator, incorporate the concept of indirect discrimination and introduce the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
End the distinction between part-time and full-time workers in terms of rights, hourly pay-rates and conditions, and extend greater employment protection to homeworkers and women on maternity leave.
We also aim to create equality of opportunity and treatment for black workers, and similar positive action programmes will be carried through on their behalf.
Energy is vital to our future as an industrial nation. We will plan its supply and demand more carefully and save more of the energy we use. As outlined in Labour’s Programme 1982, we will:
Ensure that everyone can afford adequate heat and light at home.
Give priority to the coal industry and the use of coal as a fuel. We will seek to re-establish the tripartite machinery set up under Labour and prepare a new Plan for Coal. We will also replace old plant with coal-fired stations.
Assist major towns and cities to set up combined heat and power schemes.
Begin a massive conservation programme, led by insulation for council housing, and giving incentives to industry on agreed plans to save energy. The programme will be managed by a new Energy Conservation Agency.
Greatly increase spending on the development of renewable sources.
Stop Sizewell and scrap the Tory PWR programme. The need for a continuing nuclear programme based on the British AGR will be reassessed when we come to office.
Re-establish the Energy Commission to advise on the preparation and annual review of a comprehensive energy plan.
Transfer the whole of the National Nuclear Corporation to the public sector.
Energy costs now represent a major part of family budgets. We will aim to reduce these costs, both by conservation and by introducing new fuel allowances.
We will bring Britoil back into public ownership and combine it with BNOC to create a powerful national oil corporation with full powers to engage in all aspects of oil-related activities. We will restore to the new corporation a minimum 50 per cent stake in all fields discovered since 1975; and, in line with our objective to bring North Sea oil into public ownership and control, the public sector will have the dominant role in all future oil and gas exploration and development in the North Sea. We reaffirm our commitment to achieving full public control and ownership of British Petroleum, in order to make it an effective agent of a nationally directed oil policy.
Food, fishing and agriculture
Britain needs a food and agriculture policy much more in line with our needs – and this is one of the prime reasons for leaving the EEC. Instead of the inflated prices of the EEC’s Common Agricultural Policy, we will support our agriculture through deficiency payments – coupled, where necessary, with limited intervention buying and direct income support.
As we describe in Labour’s Programme 1982, we will conduct an ‘annual assessment’ of the industry, after consultation with all those concerned. This will set the level of support given to the industry. Labour will also negotiate long-term supply agreements with agricultural producing nations; establish commodity agencies and support marketing co-operatives; and, where helpful, extend marketing boards to other sectors.
Together with the trade unions we will work to close the gap between agricultural and industrial earnings, and replace the Agricultural Wages Board with a statutory joint industrial council. We will also act to improve farm safety, provide statutory support for workers’ safety representatives, and end pay discrimination against women workers.
We will give a new deal to the fishing industry. We will draw up a National Fisheries Plan so as to take full advantage of our withdrawal from the EEC. We will also provide public investment for the industry and improved conditions of employment – including safety conditions – and introduce a licensing system for registered fishing vessels and fishermen.
We will end the de-rating of agricultural land. We will also defend the agricultural environment by giving a new priority to the effect on the environment of our agricultural policies. We will make all agricultural aid subject to environmental criteria and extend development controls to agriculture.
We shall take tougher measures to control the use of pesticides and herbicides. We shall establish a body with statutory powers to supervise their use, and in particular we shall ban the use of 245-T. We shall strengthen controls on the use of additives in feedstuffs, and in food, and ensure better labelling. Our aim is to make it easier for new entrants, such as young farmers, to come into the industry and obtain a tenancy. We will do this with the help of a new Rural Land Authority, which will administer rural land already publicly-owned and begin to extend public ownership to tenanted land.
For the forestry industry, we intend to reconstitute the Forestry Commission, as described in Labour’s Programme 1982, so that it operates as an expanding public enterprise. The commission would cease to act as a spokesman for the private sector; and it will be expected to extend its activities to include the processing side of the industry. We will also seek to increase tree plantings.
A better deal for women
Labour’s objective is to achieve equality between women and men. Over half the population are women; yet in our society, paid employment is seen as important while domestic skills – involving caring for children – do not enjoy their proper status. Women should have a genuine choice between staying at home to look after the family or going to work. Men and women should be able to share the rights and responsibilities of paid employment and domestic activities, so that job segregation within and outside the home is broken down.
Tory attacks on women’s rights and opportunities have more than doubled the numbers of unemployed women and destroyed services which women in particular depend upon. Labour will do more than reverse these policies. We will:
Expand current positive action programmes as well as introduce wide-ranging new schemes in order to encourage women to train and apply for new job opportunities, particularly in the area of new technology.
Provide equal pay for work of equal value by amending the Equal Pay Act; and take action, together with the trade unions, against low pay.
Strengthen the Sex Discrimination Act to include direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of family status, and shift the burden of proof from the complainant to the alleged discriminator.
Strengthen and expand the role of the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Restore and extend women’s employment rights to include part-time and home workers.
Reverse the Tory attack on employment, social services and maternity rights.
Improve the level of financial support to families with children and disabled dependants. The household duties test will be abolished. Extra help will be given to one-parent families.
Establish an integrated system of child care with priority for children in the most deprived areas. Our aim will be to introduce, as soon as possible, a statutory duty on local authorities to provide nursery education for all pre school children whose parents wish it.
Take steps to end discrimination in education and training, as set out in Labour’s Programme 1982.
Provide the resources to make a major improvement in the personal social services for the care of elderly, sick and disabled people.
Within the NHS, improve community services, extend preventive measures including screening, and develop child health services.
Increase the maternity grant to at least £100.
Provide fair treatment for widows.
Increase the death grant to at least £200.
Work to establish equal treatment in tax and social security.
End VAT on sanitary protection.
Appoint a cabinet minister to promote equality between the sexes.
Review the whole question of divorce and maintenance.
Establish a fairer system of family law, and introduce Family Courts.
Give more support for victims of rape; and provide an urgent review of police and court procedures in cases of rape and violence against women.
Improve ante-natal and maternity services, and respect the wishes of women in childbirth.
Support the provision of family crisis centres and more refuges for battered women.
While continuing to defend and respect the absolute right of individual conscience, we will improve NHS facilities for family planning and abortion, including counselling and day-care; and we will remove barriers to the implementation of the existing right of choice for women in the termination of a pregnancy.
Our plan for expansion must be supported by measures to create a fairer Britain. We shall reform taxation so that the rich pay their full share and the tax burden on the lower paid is reduced. By progressively increasing the real value of the personal allowance, we will help the lower paid and those on average earnings. We intend also to bring down the starting point of the highest rates of tax, and to remove the present ceiling on earnings-related National Insurance contributions.
In Labour’s Programme 1982, we explain how we will reduce tax avoidance. This will include action on family trusts and investment income. We also intend to limit the open-ended availability to higher-rate tax payers of various tax reliefs. A determined attack will be mounted on illegal tax evasion.
We shall also reform indirect taxation. We will extend zero-rating under VAT, with different rates for essentials and non-essentials.
Capital taxes will be used to reduce the huge inequalities in inherited wealth. We shall reverse most of the Tories’ concessions on capital transfer tax and introduce a new annual tax on net personal wealth, along the lines set out in Labour’s Programme 1982. This will ensure that the richest 100,000 of the population make a fair and proper contribution to tax revenue.
Labour will give families a better deal. Our first priority will be to help families with children in order to support them in the task of parenthood. The Tories refuse to accept the wide variety in the type and size of families. Their policies restrict choice for members of families – in particular they reduce the freedom of men and women to choose whether to work or to stay at home and look after their families. At the same time, Tory policy has trapped more and more families in poverty through a combination of means-tested benefits and a tax system which bites hardest on the lowest paid.
We aim to recast the tax and benefit system, so as to redistribute resources to families with children. Our priority is child benefit. We will increase it by £2.00 a week, make it index-linked, and subsequently improve it in real terms, as resources allow. In the longer term, we shall aim to raise child benefit to the level of child support given to those on long-term benefits. We shall also restore the rights to weekly payment of child benefit; increase the maternity grant to £100; and give extra help to one-parent families.
We shall continue to help family budgets throughout the parliament:
By increasing personal tax allowances – thus taking the poorest families out of the tax net;
By making further increases in child benefit;
By extending and improving the Invalid Care Allowance for those who care for disabled people.
To help pay for these improvements we shall, over the lifetime of the parliament, phase out the married man’s additional tax allowance for those under the age of retirement. Married couples with dependants will clearly benefit considerably from these changes – whilst the overall change for those without dependants, given the increases in personal allowance, will be small in any one year. However, we recognise that the loss of the allowance could cause financial difficulty for those couples where one of the spouses is not in work. We shall therefore consider how best to give support to these married couples where there are no dependants. Our aim is to end sex discrimination in taxation. We favour the principle of separate taxation and are examining how best to implement this.
A new deal for pensioners
We believe that elderly people, both today’s pensioners as well as those who will benefit in future from Labour’s pension scheme, should share as of right in our future prosperity. We shall:
Uprate the pension in November 1983 by the full amount necessary to protect its real value against the rise in inflation to that date.
Increase pensions, as soon as practicable, by £1.45 for a single person and £2.25 for a married couple. This is the amount pensioners have lost through the Tories breaking the link between pensions and earnings.
Link pensions and average earnings, when these are rising faster than prices, and extend this to all benefits.
Make progress towards our aim of a common pension age of 60.
Double the Christmas bonus to £20.
Phase out the TV licence for pensioners, during the lifetime of the Labour government.
Give women the additional tax allowance for the elderly – the age allowance – at 60 instead of 65.
Increase the Death Grant to £200 and extend it to cover all deaths.
Introduce a Pension Schemes Act that will more adequately protect occupational pensions from the effects of inflation than they are at present; protect the position of early leavers; and extend to members of schemes, rights to participation and to greater information.
Introduce, in areas where more favourable concessionary travel on local transport does not exist, a nationwide, off-peak, half-fares scheme for pensioners.
Reform the harsh supplementary benefit rules introduced by the Tories.
Reduce energy costs, for pensioners, both through support for conservation and by introducing new fuel allowances.
Help for the unemployed
Working people are entitled to a decent income when they lose their job through circumstances beyond their control. An improved earnings-related supplement will once again be paid during the first months of unemployment. We shall end the discrimination whereby the unemployed are not entitled to the long-term rate of supplementary benefit after a year. We shall also consider how best to improve unemployment benefit for the longer-term unemployed so that large-scale supplementation is not required.
Help for people with disabilities
The last Labour government established, for the first time, the basis for eliminating poverty among disabled people. We intend to build on this. We will:
Introduce a £10 a week blindness allowance, as a first step towards the introduction of a new cash benefit for disabled people, which will vary according to the degree of disability.
Bring up the non-contributory invalidity pension to the level of the flat-rate contributory i nvalidity benefit, and restore the 5 per cent cut in invalidity benefit.
Help the many disabled people who are capable of working part-time or for limited periods, but discouraged by present benefit regulations. We shall amend these to take account of their needs.
Abolish the household duties test for housewives’ non-contributory invalidity pension and extend invalid care allowance to all those women presently excluded.
Continue to pay mobility allowance to existing recipients as they reach the age of 75.
Ensure the full implementation of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.
For those who require long-term care – elderly, mentally handicapped, mentally ill and disabled people – develop services within both the health service and the local authority services, based on support for them and their families within the community.
Make proper provision for the 20 per cent of children requiring various forms of special education. We will promote and provide the resources for the integration within mainstream schooling of those children whose needs are best met by ordinary schools.
Labour will also aim to overcome discrimination against the disabled at work. We will reverse the Tory cuts, which have caused unnecessary suffering for people with disabilities. We shall increase the number of disablement resettlement officers; extend capital grants to adapt employer’s premises; strengthen existing schemes – especially rehabilitation – to help disabled people back to work; and introduce new legislation, including quotas, to secure employment opportunities and job protection for disabled people.
A fairer benefit system
The new supplementary benefit scheme introduced by the Tories is harsh and unfair. We shall reform it. The families of those involved in industrial disputes will be entitled to full benefits – less any strike pay actually paid. We shall return to a sliding scale for assessing capital and the surrender value of insurance policies will be excluded. The anomaly which prevents some widows from claiming long-term supplementary benefit will be removed. We shall give extra help to families with children.
We shall improve staffing levels and physical conditions in social security offices so as to provide a more humane and responsive service for claimants. Many people fail to claim benefit to which they are entitled. We shall aim to increase take-up by improvements in publicity and the provision of advice.
All the social security changes made by the Tories, including the new sick pay and housing benefit schemes, will be reviewed. If they do not treat working people and their families fairly, we will replace them.
Forty years have elapsed since the Beveridge Report which led to the setting up of the National Insurance scheme by the post war Labour government. We shall conduct a thorough review of the scheme in the light of today’s circumstances.
The right to health care
The creation of the National Health Service is one of the greatest achievements of the Labour Party. It now faces a double threat from the Tories: a lack of resources for decent health care; and the active encouragement of private practice. Labour will act to defend the basic principles of the service. We will ensure that it is free at the point of use and funded out of taxation, and that priority depends on medical need not ability to pay.
To meet rising costs due to improved medical technology and the age composition of the population, and to allow for a general expansion of our under-funded health services, we shall increase health service expenditure by 3 per cent per annum in real terms. We will also seek a fairer distribution of these resources at both regional and district level. Since the election, prescription charges have increased from 20p to £1.40 per item. Labour will phase out health charges. We shall also ensure that NHS staff receive a fair reward for their work and dedication; and we will discuss with the TUC new arrangements for pay determination and the resolution of disputes.
Our overriding aim will be to reduce inequalities in standards of health care for all who need it. We will:
Give greater emphasis to prevention, both within the health and personal social services. We will come forward with proposals to help prevent accidents and disease, including action on advertising.
Give priority to improving our primary health care services, especially in the inner cities.
Continue to improve the ante-natal and maternity services and develop our child health services; and we will respect the wishes of women in child birth.
Introduce an independent complaints system in both hospital and family practitioner services.
Recognise the importance of community health councils and ensure that they have the power and facilities to represent fully the consumer point of view.
Abolish the special charges for overseas visitors, and end passport checks.
Take a major public stake in the pharmaceutical industry – and ensure that the drugs available are safe, effective and economic.
The present expansion in private medicine is a serious threat to our priorities in health care. We will not allow the development of a two-tier health service, where the rich can jump the queue. We shall remove private practice from the NHS and take into the NHS those parts of the profit-making private sector which can be put to good use. We shall also stop public subsidies to the private sector and prevent it expanding further. We will give proper recognition to those consultants who make a full-time commitment to the NHS; and we will provide incentives to those choosing to work in under-doctored areas and specialities.
While continuing to defend and respect the absolute right of individual conscience, we will improve NHS facilities for family planning and abortion, including counselling and day-care; and we will remove barriers to the implementation of the existing right of choice for women in the termination of a pregnancy.
Personal social services
Personal social services – such as childcare, home helps, meals on wheels and residential and day care for the elderly and handicapped, are a vital part of our welfare state. And it is those who are most vulnerable in our society who depend most upon them.
The Tory cuts in the social services have hit women hardest. They have meant lost jobs for many women and a loss of support for the elderly and disabled, thus forcing women to stay at home as unpaid carers. A major improvement in personal social services will be necessary, not only to raise the standard of living of those who depend upon them, but also to give women an equal right to work. Labour will reverse the Tory cuts, improve and expand services so that they can complement the much better community health services we shall provide. This will involve increasing spending by at least 4 per cent a year in real terms. We will:
Increase joint finance and extend it to cover other agencies.
Require social services departments to plan and develop services for children jointly with education and health authorities.
Strengthen the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act so that it provides a Charter of Rights for disabled people everywhere.
Require local authorities to develop preventive services for children at risk.
Give greater attention to the needs of ethnic minorities.
Encourage the growth of local, independent advice and advocacy services.
Education for the future
If individuals are to achieve their full creative potential, and our society is to advance, we must substantially improve educational provision and opportunity. The Tories’ cuts have shown that they have no commitment to a free and fair education system. The fact is, however, that economic and social progress will depend on our success in making use of the abilities of the whole of our population.
For the under-fives, our goal is to achieve comprehensive provision, with priorities for children in the most deprived areas. We will unify education and care services for the under-fives, both nationally and locally. Our aim will be to introduce a statutory duty on local authorities to provide nursery education, as soon as possible, for all pre-school children whose parents wish it.
Schools in the community
Primary education is fundamental to all educational and social development, as any parent knows. We will restore funds to local education authorities to reduce class sizes; and improve learning materials and facilities in primary schools so that our children receive the best possible start in their schooling.
Secondary education is a period during which all young people must prepare themselves as the workers and citizens of the future. We shall encourage a higher standard of achievement among all pupils in the variety of academic and other activities which are essential parts of fully comprehensive education. We will:
Repeal the Education Act 1979 and prohibit all forms of academic selection, such as the eleven plus, as a condition of admission to secondary schools.
Require local education authorities to maintain a broad, balanced and comprehensive curriculum, providing genuinely equal opportunities for boys and girls, and for the ethnic minorities to meet the needs of our multi-cultural society.
Establish a common system of assessment for all 16 year olds which will encourage effort and accurately record achievement at school.
Throughout the whole of schooling, we will:
Determine a supply of appropriately qualified teachers to reduce class sizes. No class size should be over 30. The quality and frequency of teacher in-service training must be improved so that teachers receive no less than one school term of training in every five years of service.
Discuss with the local authorities ways of developing a reformed system for funding education. Whilst safeguarding local democracy in education, this must secure and maintain improved national standards of provision in essential areas.
Abolish corporal punishment; and help local authorities and schools to develop other methods, already successfully practised in many schools, for dealing with bad behaviour.
Positively encourage parental understanding and participation in the education of their children by increasing parental representation on school governing bodies and increasing the links between home and school.
Re-establish the school meals and milk services, cut back by the Tories. This will help to offset the inequalities, for example in nutrition, highlighted by the Black Report.
Private schools are a major obstacle to a free and fair education system, able to serve the needs of the whole community. We will abolish the Assisted Places Scheme and local authority place buying; and we will phase out, as quickly as possible, boarding allowances paid to government personnel for their children to attend private schools, whilst ensuring secure accommodation for children needing residential education.
We shall also withdraw charitable status from private schools and all their other public subsidies and tax privileges. We will also charge VAT on the fees paid to such schools; phase out fee charging; and integrate private schools within the local authority sector where necessary. Special schools for handicapped pupils will retain all current support and tax advantages.
Post 16 education
For 16 and 17 year olds, we will introduce a two years’ student-traineeship within a third or ‘tertiary’, stage of education, as described in the section on young people. A ‘tertiary awards council’ will be established to develop and validate a proper system of educational assessment for the whole of the age group. Our aim is to replace the rigid ‘A’ level system with a broader programme of study within the student-traineeship, thus preventing over specialisation and promoting flexibility and breadth in learning.
Our policy for education after eighteen is expansion with change. We will reverse the Tory cuts and restore the right for all qualified young people seeking higher education to secure places. We will also substantially expand opportunities for adults in both further and higher education.
We reject the Tory proposals for student loans; and we will ensure students are given adequate financial support. We will also provide proper financial support for those on non-advanced, part-time advanced, and Open University courses.
We are determined to give priority to adults who have been denied educational opportunity on leaving school. We will:
Give statutory backing to paid educational leave for workers.
Phase in a new, adult educational entitlement that will provide one year of education, backed by financial support for adults who have never received education after eighteen.
Require educational institutions to be more flexible in their admissions procedures and methods of study.
Establish a proper legal basis for adult education; and create a development council to promote adult and continuing education.
Establish machinery to plan and co ordinate all post 18-education together and ensure that the bodies funding universities, and planning local authority further, higher and continuing education, are more accountable and representative.
A new deal for young people
Labour will end the scourge of youth unemployment and prepare young people to take up the jobs that we will create. We will also encourage all young people in employment to join a trade union. Our radical new scheme for young people will establish a new, two year student-traineeship for all 16 and 17 year olds. It will bring together, for the first time, the first years of apprenticeships, other training schemes for young workers and the young unemployed and courses in full-time education in schools and colleges. We will:
Give to young people who are at work the right to be released to college or school, on full pay. Employers will be given a statutory duty to provide opportunities for their young employees to receive systematic education and training and to release student-trainees at their request. Premiums will be paid to them to recruit young people and provide them with such opportunities.
Abolish the so-called Young Workers’ Scheme, set up by the Tories to reduce youth wages. Labour rejects completely the Tory argument that young people have priced themselves out of jobs.
Offer all young people without work a place on new youth training schemes, with proper education and training opportunities – which can best be guaranteed by active monitoring by the trade unions; and give them an allowance of at least £30 per week – the level of which will be agreed annually with the TUC – with trade unions being free to negotiate better terms.
Provide student-trainees, in full-time education, with an educational maintenance allowance of £25 a week, at 1983 prices, covering 52 weeks in a year.
Labour will establish new rights and provide more resources for youth. We will:
Expand and improve the youth service so that it meets the social, cultural and recreational needs of young people – especially the unemployed, young women, the ethnic minorities and the young disabled.
Established a ‘youth initiatives fund’ to give greater recognition and support to organisations which represent young people’s interest.
Encourage local authorities to support representative local youth councils as one of the means of enabling young people to influence public affairs as young adults.
Expand funding and staffing for the provision of social studies and education for citizenship in youth clubs and schools with the aim of informing young people of their civil, political and trade union rights and responsibilities as citizens. Accredited trade union representatives should be involved with secondary school students in the context of such education, with full facilities for such representatives at all career days.
Homes for everyone
Britain faces a major housing crisis. The Tories have slashed public spending on housing by half and house building is at its lowest since the 1920’s. Houses are falling into disrepair faster than they can be repaired, while homelessness and waiting lists continue to grow. Labour will reverse this decline. Our aim is a decent home for all with real freedom of choice between renting and owning, on terms people can afford.
Labour governments have done more than any others to assist owner occupiers; and we will extend this by giving special assistance to first-time buyers and council tenants.
Labour will immediately increase by half the total housing investment programmes for local authorities. This will be a first step in increasing resources for council housing repairs and improvements and for new public sector house building. We will also give a new priority to getting empty council owned housing back into use. We will overhaul and extend the renovation grant and area improvement programme to tackle properly the decay of our older houses. New and better housing and environmental standards will be developed and greater provision will be made for hitherto neglected groups, such as single people.
The Tories have forced council rents to more than double. The number of council homes for rent is falling because of the rundown of new building and enforced sales. Thousands have to cope with leaking roofs and damp, inadequate heating, broken down lifts, noise, lack of security, increasing disrepair and neglect.
Labour will give council tenants a new deal. In addition to a freeze on rents for a full year, and the restoration of subsidies, Labour will:
fund a national action programme to repair and improve or replace run-down estates, especially the system-built developments in which so many defects have been revealed.
Strengthen tenants’ rights on security, repairs and improvements, access to files, exchanges, transfers, moves between local authority areas, and rehousing rights on breakdown of relationship;
Encourage more responsive and decentralised housing management and maintenance, and promote tenant participation and democracy, including housing co-operatives;
End all residential and other qualifications, which unfairly exclude people from council housing in the area where they live, extend the ‘priority’ groups under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act and strengthen the rights of homeless people;
End enforced council house sales, empower public landlords to repurchase homes sold under the Tories on first resale and provide that future voluntary agreed sales will be at market value.
Labour believes in real home ownership at prices people can afford. Under the Tories the mortgage rate reached its highest ever level at 15 per cent and is still at 10 per cent. They have done little to help low income groups become owners.
We support financial assistance for owner-occupation and will maintain mortgage tax relief for existing house purchasers at the current rate. The unfairness of mortgage tax relief above the basic rate, which gives most benefit to the highest incomes, will be phased out. We will also examine the possibility of a new and substantial form of financial help for first time buyers, with special consideration for council and new town tenants, aimed at easing the heavy initial burdens of house purchase.
Labour will act to help home-owners. We will:
Simplify and reduce the cost of house purchase, ending the solicitors’ conveyancing monopoly, and require full disclosure of mortgage lending terms and practices;
Make it easier for lower income groups to borrow funds on secure terms by greatly expanding council mortgage lending and providing the funds needed. This will be financed primarily by on-lending from the building societies, at least 10 per cent of whose funds should be made available in this way;
Allow and encourage councils to provide a unified house-purchase service, including estate agency, surveying, conveyancing and mortgage lending;
End the leasehold system for houses, strengthen the rights of leaseholders of flats and increase protection to mobile home residents.
Privately rented housing
The worst housing conditions are in privately rented housing. The Tories have loosened the controls on rents and security of tenure and pushed up rents. If they get the chance, they would abolish all controls.
Labour will ensure that tenants are fully protected. We will:
Actively encourage the transfer of all property owned by absentee private landlords to the public or owner-occupied sectors, with local authorities setting the pace. This will not apply to owner-occupiers letting all or part of their home.
Repeal the Tories’ shorthold scheme and close other loopholes in security of tenure; and strengthen tenants’ rights on deposits and harassment.
Strengthen councils’ powers to enforce repairs and improvements and the standards of management, particularly in multi-occupied properties; and launch a programme of action against property held empty without justification.
Bring forward measures to strengthen tied tenants’ rights and improve their access to secure housing when they leave their job.
Bring service charges for private tenants and leaseholders within the fair rents scheme.
Help for all tenants
Tenants in both the public and private sectors are plagued with difficulties caused by all-too frequent failure of landlords to carry out repairs satisfactorily and speedily. Tenants recognise that major structural repairs, for example to blocks of flats or maisonettes, can only be dealt with by large-scale improvement projects. But they rightly see no reason why routine repairs should be neglected. Labour will launch a new initiative aimed at tackling this troublesome problem.
We will introduce a right to repair for all tenants – council, new town, housing associations and private landlord. This will give tenants the right to force landlords, including councils, to get routine repairs done, with landlords footing the cost. Where there are council direct labour organisations, these will be responsible for doing this work. Major structural work will not be included, but the Labour government will assist councils to carry out such work through much larger capital investment allocations and reinstatement of an adequate housing subsidy system.
We also intend to reform the system of housing benefits for low income groups. A new Housing Tribunal will be established to replace the present confusing jumble of courts, tribunals and committees, as an accessible means of resolving landlord-tenant disputes.
The Tory recession has seriously damaged the construction industry. Company after company has gone bankrupt. Nearly 400,000 construction workers are on the dole. Labour’s plan for expansion will help the industry back to its feet. But we will also introduce changes to the industry, as described in Labour’s Programme, 1982 – not least to help stabilise the industry’s workload. We will also provide greater job security for employees; and we will work out, with the agreement of the trade unions, a system of decasualisation.
We also believe that a major new role should be played in the industry by public and co-operative enterprise – to provide a new source of enterprise, initiative and innovation. We will establish a new, publicly-owned company, as a major pace-making public enterprise, for large and medium-sized construction projects. In addition, to help protect the public interest, we will extend public ownership into the building materials industry, in which a small number of large companies now enjoy near monopoly conditions.
We will also give generous and active support to the development of workers’ co operatives, especially at the jobbing’ end of the industry. We will reverse Tory policies towards local authority direct labour organisations. We will give them more scope by allowing them to compete for other work in their locality, while ensuring that they are efficiently run as municipal enterprises. We will oppose the contracting out of government services to privately-owned companies.
Planning for people
The way we plan the use of our land affects every one of us. It determines where we build our housing, the kind of shopping centres which are available, and where new jobs and factories are sited. We are determined to strengthen local planning and ensure greater participation by ordinary people over the decisions which affect their lives.
The Tories have always put the interests of property developers before the needs of local people. Labour will change this. We will ensure that local authorities are able to decide on the positive use of land in their areas instead of having to respond to the initiatives of developers. And we shall take explicit powers to link land-use planning firmly with the economic and social planning of local authorities.
A key issue in planning at local level is the ownership and use of land. We are determined to stop land speculation and make sensible and comprehensive planning possible. We will establish new land authorities, similar to the successful Land Authority of Wales, with the powers and funds needed to acquire development land – at its current use value – so that local plans can be fulfilled. Our proposals do not apply to owner-occupiers, whose homes and gardens will be safeguarded.
We intend also to widen democratic participation in the planning system by:
Codifying and extending public rights of consultation, and of appeal against planning decisions;
Improving access to public planning inquiries and broadening their terms of reference;
Ensuring that, before the inquiry stage of certain major development proposals, the environmental effects are subject to detailed analysis and the report is published;
Creating a new fund to help objectors at major public inquiries, with an independent board to decide who should be helped and by how much.
The inner cities
The decay, squalor and level of unemployment in our inner cities are a national disgrace. Labour is determined to reverse their decline. We will provide more resources, more investment and more jobs. We will act to ensure, through the policies set out in this campaign document, that people living in the inner cities have access to decent homes, health and education – and that there is proper accountability for the police.
In addition to providing a major increase of funds for the Urban Programme, we will:
Use agreed development plans, negotiated at national level with major firms – public and private – to locate investment and jobs in the inner cities.
Use regional development agencies to prepare sites, encourage municipal and co-operative enterprise, and help improve transport and other facilities.
Get local authorities to prepare local economic and social plans. We will also support the development of well-financed local enterprise boards in areas which need them – and enable local authorities to conclude agreed development plans with small and medium-sized local firms.
Labour believes that the countryside should be preserved and enhanced as a source of recreation for town and country dwellers alike and as a habitat for wild creatures and plants. Everyone has a right to a decent living and working environment.
We intend to monitor closely – and publicly – the nation’s progress in improving the environment. We shall therefore present to parliament each year a major report on the ‘State of the Environment’. We will also safeguard our heritage by:
Supporting rights of access to common land. We will stop landed interests from preventing access for anglers;
Strengthening the planning laws to ensure that the countryside is protected from damaging development;
Strengthening the legislation which protects endangered species;
Providing increased resources so that the Nature Conservancy Council and Countryside Commission can function effectively;
Enacting a new Wildlife and Countryside Act and providing proper protection for sites of special scientific interests.
We will also act to curb pollution. We will:
Proceed with the implementation of the 1974 Control of Pollution Act.
Undertake a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the present machinery and powers on pollution control.
Eliminate lead in petrol by setting a date after which all new cars will be required to use only lead-free petrol. The interests of motorists will be safeguarded.
Restore those environmental agencies abolished by the Tories with a responsibility for monitoring air and noise pollution.
Develop a programme for eliminating toxic substances from our living and working environments.
We will reform the water industry by repealing the Tories’ Water Act and restoring democratic accountability in the industry. We will re-establish a national authority charged with responsibility for the strategic planning and use of all water resources. The canal system will be brought under a new national authority, so that it can be developed and maintained as an essential water resource. We will also consider how best to provide help, for those on low incomes, with paying their water rates.
Tory policies have seriously harmed the rural areas. Bus services have disappeared. Rail links are under threat. Jobs have been axed. Houses are not being built. Village halls and sub-post offices have been closed. Labour will act to improve the quality of life in the rural areas; and we have outlined our plans in Labour’s Programme 1982 and in our statement Out of Town, Out of Mind. We will give greater priority to rural problems. And ministers will be expected to bring about greater co-ordination in promoting our policies. We will:
Ensure that the Development Commission, and its counterparts in Scotland and Wales, become actively involved in implementing our policies for rural regeneration.
Take measures to increase employment by encouraging the expansion of light industry and tourism in the rural areas, while safeguarding the rural nature of the countryside.
Improve the rural public transport network by a major injection of public funds and a better use of existing resources.
Wherever possible retain village schools and generally improve educational provision for all age groups; and introduce mobile health clinics and mobile ‘all purpose’ community services offices.
Take extensive measures to expand the provision of all types of housing in the rural areas, which will also help to deal with the ‘Second Home’ problem.
Four years of Tory government has meant serious damage to Britain’s transport system. Profitable elements have been sold off. Important but unprofitable sections left in public hands are being starved of investment. The quality of public transport services has fallen disastrously.
Another Tory government would mean even poorer services, higher fares and lower safety standards. Labour repudiates this whole approach. We believe that the improvement of public transport must be a major social priority, which can only be achieved by a sensibly integrated transport system. We describe our proposals in Labour’s Programme 1982.
We will maintain and improve the rail network, invest in the electrification of the main lines and replace worn-out railway stock. We will encourage the use of the railways for freight traffic by extending grants for rail freight facilities and encouraging the development of trans-shipment depots.
Heavy lorries will be made to bear their full share of road costs, including environment costs. We will cut to a minimum noise and pollution from goods vehicles and introduce national routeings and restrictions to take lorries away from people. Vehicle Excise Duty for private cars will be abolished and the revenue secured by a higher tax on petrol.
Labour believes that, together with a properly enforced licensing system, a publicly-owned share of the road haulage industry is essential. It would clearly be sensible for the National Freight Company to form part of this sector; and we are examining how best to bring this about.
We will ensure that local authorities are able to give proper support to public transport. In areas where more favourable concessionary travel on local transport does not exist, we shall bring in a nationwide, off-peak half-fares scheme for pensioners. A proper licensing system, to safeguard the network of bus services, will be reintroduced. We shall also ensure that a basic minimum level of service is provided throughout the country.
In addition, we will:
Encourage the development of effective traffic management schemes to alleviate the problems of traffic congestion.
Improve facilities and safety standards for cyclists and increase financial incentives to local authorities to assist these improvements.
Give a high priority to building by passes.
Establish a national shipping organisation able to acquire and operate shipping services; and protect our shipping and jobs from unfair foreign competition.
Invest in inland waterways, and encourage the greater use of them – and of coastal shipping – in the interests of taking freight off our roads.
Establish a new National Ports Authority to take ports into public ownership and to develop a new overall strategy for these.
Create a National Transport Authority to develop transport policy and good practice, secure integration and facilitate comprehensive planning.
Law, order and justice
Labour’s aim is to ensure that all sections of the community are safe on the street and at home, free from the fear that crime generates. We believe that the police should have the support of the community, have their rights safeguarded, and be fairly paid. But we also believe that it is as much in the interests of the police, as of their local communities, that they are properly accountable and fully subject to the law. We will ensure that, throughout the country, the police are encouraged to return to the beat and therefore closer to the communities they serve. That is the best way of preventing and detecting crime.
We intend to protect the rights of individual suspects, while providing the police with sufficient powers to do their job effectively whilst not infringing the civil rights of individual suspects. We aim to create elected police authorities in all parts of the country, including London, with statutory responsibility for the determination of police policy within their areas. We will also:
Launch a major initiative to help victims, including extending and simplifying the present Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
Give priority to crime prevention as part of our action programme for run down estates.
Bring about better co-ordination in the technical, support and information services of the police.
Replace the present police complaints procedure with an independent system accountable to local communities, with minority police representation.
Create community police councils to provide an opportunity for open discussion between police and the community as to the quality and manner of police provision.
Introduce strict limits on searches of people in the street, searches of premises, the use of the power of arrest, and on the time a prisoner can be held in custody before being charged.
Protect the rights of those in police custody, by giving revised Judges Rules, which safeguard those under arrest or interrogation, the force of law and, in England and Wales, take the role of prosecutor away from the police by implementing a public prosecutor system, on the Procurator Fiscal model.
Repeal the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, because it infringes the rights and freedoms of individuals.
Disband the London Special Patrol Groups and local SPGs, which have increasingly been deployed in aggressive public order roles.
Access to legal services
We will not allow people’s legal rights to go by default. Accessible level services are essential to protect human rights. As described in Labour’s Programme 1982, we will increase central government spending to set up new law centres and help existing ones, and to improve the legal aid scheme by widening its provisions. We will also introduce a system of appeals against the refusal of legal aid in criminal cases.
We will speed the extension of duty solicitor schemes to all magistrate courts and police stations in England and Wales. We will also introduce measures to help citizens to secure their legal rights in the areas of tribunal and welfare rights law.
We will co-ordinate the responsibility for advice and legal services so that ministerial responsibility is clearer and more direct. We will also establish a new Legal Services Commission to be responsible for the provision and financing of public legal services. Our aim is to ensure that the expertise and training of the legal profession should be geared far more than at present to those legal problems affecting ordinary people.
The penal system
No one concerned for human dignity and civil rights can find our prison system acceptable. We are determined to improve conditions. We do not accept that wives and children should be punished together with the prisoners. We will:
Reduce the prison population by cutting many maximum sentence lengths for non-violent offenders. We will stop putting petty offenders into prison. We will expand non-custodial alternatives, and examine new penalties involving reparation and restitution to the victim. We will also introduce a maximum period of custody for those on remand, along the lines of the provisions in Scotland.
Treat prisoners as human beings by providing reasonable conditions in our prisons. We will incorporate, in new, legally enforceable prison rules, minimum standards on such matters as cell space. And we will reduce unnecessary restrictions – for example on prisoners’ correspondence.
Refurbish urban prisons.
Hand over all specialist services in prisons, such as medical care, to the normal community agencies.
Establish a genuinely independent complaints and disciplinary procedure to replace the current board of visitors system; and provide better aftercare for those leaving prison, to help them resettle in the community.
Improve the training, working conditions and job opportunities of prison officers.
Examine the additional problems faced by women prisoners, especially those with young children.
The next Labour government will lead a political offensive against racial disadvantage, discrimination and harassment; and we have set out our proposals in Labour’s Programme 1982. To encourage equality and reduce discrimination, we will greatly expand funding to ethnic minority projects. We will also encourage local authorities, in selecting projects under the Urban Programme, to provide for greater ethnic minority participation. We will also:
Stimulate a wide range of positive action programmes to ensure that ethnic minorities receive a fair deal – in employment, education, housing and social services: and encourage the keeping of ethnic records, in order to assess the needs of ethnic minorities and take steps to meet them.
Launch a major public education initiative aimed at eliminating prejudice.
Strengthen the existing Race Relations Act – in particular, to enable us to deal more effectively with racialist literature, speeches and marches; and to remove the exception for seamen recruited abroad.
Appoint a senior minister to lead the offensive against racial inequality.
We are concerned that homosexuals are unfairly treated. We will take steps to ensure that they are not unfairly discriminated against – especially in employment and in the definition of privacy contained in the 1967 Act – along the lines set out in Labour’s Programme, 1982.
Nationality and immigration
Through their immigration and nationality laws, the Tories have divided families and caused immense suffering in the immigrant communities. We accept the need for immigration controls. But we will repeal the 1971 Immigration Act and the 1981 British Nationality Act and replace them with a citizenship law that does not discriminate against either women or black and Asian Britons.
Under our Nationality Act, we will restore rights removed by the Tories, such as the right to automatic citizenship if born in Britain. The Act will enable other Commonwealth and foreign nationals to acquire citizenship if they qualify by objective tests, and provide a right of appeal against the refusal of an application for citizenship. We will also ensure that the cost of acquiring citizenship will no longer be an obstacle to those who wish to apply.
Under our new Immigration Act we will liberalise the age limit criteria for children and the criteria for elderly parents and other relatives. We will simplify the procedures and commit the resources necessary for all applications to be processed promptly; and allow medical examinations, including x-rays, only for medical, not administrative purposes. The race and sex discrimination in the husbands and fiances’ rules will be ended: we will restore the entitlement to admission to join a woman settled here irrespective of her citizenship, birthplace or ancestry. We will also ensure that immigration officials fully respect the human rights of those seeking entry. We will also:
Consult Commonwealth governments so as to resolve the question of the other British nationals from independent countries who possess no other citizenship.
Provide a right of appeal for those who the Home Secretary proposes to deport or exclude on security grounds.
Establish a more independent and balanced panel of adjudicators for immigration appeals.
A wider democracy
Labour will take action to enhance democratic rights and ensure greater openness and accountability in the institutions of government. We have set out our policies in Labour’s Programme, 1982. We shall:
Introduce a Freedom of Information Bill, providing for a genuine system of open government and placing the onus on the authorities to justify withholding information.
Bring in data protection legislation to prevent the abuse of confidential information held on personal files; and, subject to certain exceptions, allow individuals access to their personal records.
Reform the administration of government and the civil service machine so that it meets modern needs and is properly accountable to elected representatives. We recognise the damage done to the morale and efficiency of the civil service by this government. We will work to repair this damage, together with the unions, and to give proper recognition to the importance of the work of the service.
Take action to abolish the undemocratic House of Lords as quickly as possible and, as an interim measure, introduce a Bill in the first session of parliament to remove its legislative powers – with the exception of those which relate to the life of a parliament.
Make improvements in the legislative process and procedures in the House of Commons.
Reform the procedures for appointments to public bodies to ensure they are more open and genuinely representative of the community.
Overhaul the outdated honours system.
Give a new priority to making our public services more responsive to the needs and wishes of those who use them. Wherever possible we will decentralise services to make them as close as possible to those who use them. We will also provide more effective procedures for complaints – with clear rights for users – and ensure better training and status for those in contact with the public.
Labour believes that state aid for political parties is now essential for the working of our parliamentary democracy. We will introduce such aid, along the lines set out in the Houghton Report, with the funds available adjusted to today’s prices and index linked.
The security services
There is now widespread concern about our security services. We intend that they should become properly accountable institutions – and that the civil rights of individuals are fully protected. We outline in Labour’s Programme, 1982 our proposals for a new Security Act, to define the powers and responsibilities of the services, including those concerned with the interception of communications. We will also extend parliamentary accountability – including over the accounts of the services – which will be assisted by a new select committee; prohibit, under the Security Act, unauthorised surveillance; and abolish ‘D’ notices.
Labour is determined to strengthen local democracy. We will shift radically the balance between central and local government and give local communities much more say about how their services are run.
First, we will give local authorities freedom to implement comprehensive local plans, covering economic, social and environmental policies. We explain elsewhere in this document, and more fully in Labour’s Programme, 1982, our proposals to assist local authorities to create jobs, to establish local enterprise boards and engage in local economic planning. We will reverse Tory policies on the privatisation of local authority services.
Second, we will expand the scope for local democracy. Instead of local councillors never being completely sure what is permitted and what is ultra vires, we shall give a power of general competence to all local authorities to carry out whatever activities are not expressly forbidden by statute. We shall also seek to define the relationship between central and local government – as part of our consideration of the universal application of realistic minimum standards – so that basic provision of key services is available in all parts of the country. We will also:
Take action to encourage councils to make their services more responsive to the needs and wishes of their clients and of the local community.
Extend workers’ rights and industrial democracy in local government, by enabling non-voting employee representatives to be co-opted on to committees, and encouraging the introduction of formal procedures for participation in decisions on the implementation of policy. We will also allow all but the most senior officers the right to become elected or co-opted members of the authority which employs them.
Pay proper allowances, and provide adequate administrative support, to local councillors.
We are examining how best to reform local government. We believe that services such as health, water and sewerage should become answerable to a much greater extent to elected members; and we aim to end, if we can, the present confusing division of services between two tiers of authority. Unitary district authorities, in England and Wales, could be responsible for all of the functions in this area that they could sensibly undertake. We will also ensure that the City of London is absorbed into a reformed democratic system of local government. For Scotland, any reform of local government will be a matter for our proposed Scottish Assembly.
Local government finance
Labour will reverse the Tory government’s attacks on local authority services. We shall provide finance, through the rate support grant, to allow local authority expenditure to grow in line with our plans for economic expansion; and the hard-pressed urban areas will benefit especially from an increased share of the resources available.
Labour believes in active local democracy. We will therefore repeal the Tory legislation which allows the government to impose ceilings on local authority spending, and to impose penalties on local authorities whose spending exceeds those ceilings. We shall repeal the ban on supplementary rates. We will restore the right of local authorities to spend additional amounts from revenue on capital expenditure in excess of loan sanction limits. The rate support grant system will be recast to give fairer treatment to areas in greatest need and the maximum freedom of action for local authorities to control their own budgets.
Labour will also enact legislation to abolish the penalty of personal surcharge on individual councillors. Instead councillors, like others in the community, will be liable at law for any unlawful or illegal acts. Public audit will be confined to that purpose and auditors will not be permitted to involve themselves in judgements on politics or policies.
Devolution to Scotland
Labour is determined to decentralise power in decision-making. In Scotland, the people have shown their support for devolution in a referendum and at successive general elections; and we have set out our proposals for devolution in a major statement, Scotland and Devolution. Labour will:
Establish a directly elected Scottish Assembly, with an executive drawn from members of the assembly.
Provide the Assembly with legislative and executive powers over a wide range of domestic policy, including matters such as health, education and social welfare.
Ensure a major role for the Assembly in assisting in the regeneration of Scottish industry – including the preparation and implementation of a Plan for Scotland – within the context of our overall national plan.
As well as receiving grants from central government, the Scottish Assembly will have tax-raising powers, thus ensuring that the level of services provided can be determined in Scotland.
Labour believes that Ireland should, by peaceful means and on the basis of consent, be united, and recognises that this will be achieved with the introduction of socialist policies. We respect and support, however, the right of the Northern Ireland people to remain within the UK, although this does not mean that Unionist leaders can have a veto on political development; and we accept that, to achieve agreement and consent between the two parts of Ireland, we must create greater unity within the Northern Ireland community.
In our 1981 conference statement and in Labour’s Programme 1982, we set out in full Labour’s policy on Northern Ireland. We will aim to establish an agreed, devolved administration. In the meantime, we will continue with direct rule. We will also initiate early discussions between the British government, the Irish government, the Irish Labour Party, and the trade unions on both sides of the border, and political representatives of the people of Northern Ireland, on how best to proceed with our policy of unification by consent.
Tory policies have been a disaster for the Northern Ireland economy. Unemployment has soared. The economy is in ruins. Housing and the social services are in desperate straits. Labour will give new hope to Northern Ireland. We will create jobs and provide investment. We will use all of the economic planning powers and institutions set out in this document – together with a massive injection of public resources – to rebuild the economy.
We will also act on security and civil rights, along the lines set out in our 1981 statement. We will repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Payment of Debt Act and reform the system of Diplock courts. We will provide equal rights for women, including rights to abortion, and make progress towards an integrated comprehensive system of education.
Leisure for living
Labour believes that a comprehensive approach is needed, at national and local levels, to provide services and facilities for leisure.
A crucial part will be played in this by the arts. Labour’s aim is to make the arts, in their broadest sense, an accepted part of everyday life for the whole population. We will place special emphasis on their availability to the young, the handicapped and the retired. Substantial extra funds will be provided, with priority being given to the regions and to access for those on low incomes. Local authorities will have a statutory duty to provide adequate arts and entertainments facilities; and the arts will be zero-rated in respect of VAT.
We will retain a Minister of the Arts, whose first task will be to undertake a major survey on the disparities in provision between regions and to produce proposals for action. The public bodies which support the arts will also be made more open and accountable, and include more representation from workers in the arts, local authorities and consumers. The Craft Council will be strengthened, and regional museums and galleries supported through a Museums and Galleries Council.
For the film industry, we will establish a British Film Authority, responsible for the National Film Finance Corporation. This will ensure that revenue from a levy on ticket sales goes to British film-makers who produce British films. We will also ensure that the profits from British film-making and distribution are channelled back into British films – and that the present two-company monopoly of film distribution in Britain is ended. The new British Film Authority will be responsible for extending public ownership into film distribution.
Sport and recreation
Labour will accept responsibility for the provision of a broadly-based leisure service. We will:
Encourage greater participation in sport and recreation.
Give incentives to voluntary bodies to involve themselves more widely in the provision of sporting and community facilities.
Encourage local authorities and other owners of facilities to make them much more available to public use.
Set up an immediate enquiry into the financial basis of sport and recreation.
Review the provision of national sporting facilities, so as to secure a fairer geographical distribution.
Ensure that the sporting talent of the nation receives sufficient support to enable them to bring sporting success to Britain.
We will also provide for the wider use of the countryside for recreational purposes, such as angling and other water-based sports. Angling will be given additional support, by ensuring wider access to rivers and lakes, financial assistance to provide a wider ownership of fishing waters, improvements in respect of conservation, and action to prevent pollution.
Our aims in the media are to safeguard freedom of expression, encourage diversity and establish greater accountability. For all the media, we will introduce a statutory right of reply to ensure that individuals can set the record straight. We will introduce stronger measures to prevent any further concentration in the media.
For the press, we will encourage diversity by:
Setting up a launch fund to assist new publications.
Ensuring that all major wholesalers accept any lawful publication, and arrange for its proper supply and display, subject to a handling charge.
Preventing acquisition of further newspapers by large press chains.
Protecting freedom of expression by prohibiting joint control of the press, commercial radio and television.
Breaking up major concentrations of press ownership, by setting an upper limit for the number of major publications in the hands of a single proprietor or press group.
Replacing the Press Council with a stronger, more representative body.
In broadcasting, we Will aim to make both broadcasting itself, and the organisations responsible, more accountable and representative – and to provide greater public access. Our aim is to promote a more wide-ranging and genuine pluralism in the media, and we set out our prop6sals in Labour’s Programme 1982. We will also seek to introduce a genuinely independent adjudication of grievances and complaints. The licence fee will be phased out for pensioners, during the lifetime of the Labour government.
The high standards of British public service broadcasting are threatened by Tory plans to introduce cable TV on free-market principles. We will regulate satellite and cable provision and foster the same principles of diversity and pluralism as conventional broadcasting authorities. To avoid wasteful duplication, we will entrust the provision of the national cable system to British Telecom.
The Labour Party was the first major political party to publish a policy statement, in 1978, on animal protection – Living Without Cruelty; and these policies are reaffirmed in Labour’s Programme 1982. We believe that all animals – whether in the wild, domesticated or farmed – should be properly treated.
To achieve our aims we will transform the Farm Animal Welfare Council into a Standing Royal Commission on Animal Protection. We will also urgently review the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act. A high priority will be given to research into alternatives to using live animals in experiments, and to restrictions on the use of live animals in experiments – with proper control and supervision in order to avoid pain.
Hare coursing, fox hunting and all forms of hunting with dogs will be made illegal. This will not, however, affect shooting and fishing. The use of snares will also be made illegal.
We will lay down clear conditions on freedom of movement for livestock; and we will ensure that our legislation meets, at least, the requirements of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes. We will also ban, over a phased period, all extreme livestock systems and introduce legislation to ensure that animals are slaughtered as near as possible to the point of production. We will ban the export of live food animals.
Animals kept in zoos, circuses and safari parks will be included in our animals protection legislation. Health and safety at work legislation will be reviewed in order to better protect people employed on such premises.
Britain and the Common Market
Geography and history determine that Britain is part of Europe, and Labour wants to see Europe safe and prosperous. But the European Economic Community, which does not even include the whole of Western Europe, was never devised to suit us, and our experience as a member of it has made it more difficult for us to deal with our economic and industrial problems. It has sometimes weakened our ability to achieve the objectives of Labour’s international policy.
The next Labour government, committed to radical, socialist policies for reviving the British economy, is bound to find continued membership a most serious obstacle to the fulfilment of those policies. In particular the rules of the Treaty of Rome are bound to conflict with our strategy for economic growth and full employment, our proposals on industrial policy and for increasing trade, and our need to restore exchange controls and to regulate direct overseas investment. Moreover, by preventing us from buying food from the best sources of world supply, they would run counter to our plans to control prices and inflation.
For all these reasons, British withdrawal from the Community is the right policy for Britain – to be completed well within the lifetime of the parliament. That is our commitment. But we are also committed to bring about withdrawal in an amicable and orderly way, so that we do not prejudice employment or the prospect of increased political and economic co-operation with the whole of Europe.
We emphasise that our decision to bring about withdrawal in no sense represents any weakening of our commitment to internationalism and international co operation. We are not ‘withdrawing from Europe’. We are seeking to extricate ourselves from the Treaty of Rome and other Community treaties which place political burdens on Britain. Indeed, we believe our withdrawal will allow us to pursue a more dynamic and positive international policy – one which recognises the true political and geographical spread of international problems and interests. We will also seek agreement with other European governments – both in the EEC and outside – on a common strategy for economic expansion.
The process of withdrawal
On taking office we will open preliminary negotiations with the other EEC member states to establish a timetable for withdrawal; and we will publish the results of these negotiations in a White Paper. In addition, as soon as possible after the House assembles, we will introduce a Repeal Bill: first, in order to amend the 1972 European Communities Act, ending the powers of the Community in the UK; and second, to provide the necessary powers to repeal the 1972 Act, when the negotiations on withdrawal are completed.
Following the publication of the White Paper, we will begin the main negotiations on withdrawal. Later, when appropriate and in the same parliament, we will use our powers to repeal the 1972 Act and abrogate the Treaty of Accession – thus breaking all of our formal links with the Community. Britain will at this point withdraw from the Council of Ministers and from the European Parliament.
There will need to be a period of transition, to ensure a minimum of disruption – and to phase in any new agreements we might make with the Community. This will enable us to make all the necessary changes in our domestic legislation. Until these changes in UK law have taken place, the status quo as regards particular items of EEC legislation will remain. And this period will, of course, extend beyond the date when we cease, formally, to be members.
The international dimension
The Labour Party is working to create a democratic socialist society in Britain, but we realise to achieve this we must enjoy the fullest international co-operation. There is a real interdependence between nations, and, if Britain under Labour is not to stand on the sidelines, we must co-operate to survive. Our foreign policy is a logical extension of our work at home.
A deep crisis now afflicts the world economy. In the developed world, recession has meant lengthening dole queues and a falling standard of life; for the peoples of the Third World, recession has added to an already intolerable burden of poverty. Unlike the Tories, Labour believes that there is a way out of the crisis, and that we need not accept an international status quo so manifestly riddled with injustice, inefficiency and waste. Labour will pursue and win international support for policies designed to stimulate trade, investment, and growth; and we shall work inside the appropriate institutions to end the financial chaos which now threatens the stability of so many countries. There can be no sure prospect of peace in a world wracked by an enduring economic crisis. Labour’s policies will help bring that crisis to an end.
Labour recognises the urgent need to restore détente and dialogue between the states and the peoples of the world. We will actively pursue dialogue with the Soviet Union and China, and will urge the American government to do so. We will work consistently for peace and disarmament, and devote all our efforts to pulling the world back from the nuclear abyss. Labour will dedicate some of the resources currently wasted on armaments to projects designed to promote both security and human development.
An essential difference between the Labour and the Tory approach is that we have a foreign policy that will help liberate the peoples of the world from oppression, want and fear. We seek to find ways in which social and political progress can be achieved and to identify the role that Britain can play in this process.
Our objectives cannot be pursued in isolation; we will work with the international agencies, friendly governments, and with socialist parties and genuine liberation movements in order to convert these objectives into concrete achievements.
Disarmament – the international context
The pursuit of peace, development and disarmament is central to our policy. We wish to strengthen the process of détente, which means the easing of political as well as military tension between East and West. A third world war would destroy civilisation, yet the danger of a nuclear holocaust grows alarmingly.
Labour is determined that Britain should play its full part in the struggle for peace. Now in 1983, in what is a critical year for peace, we can begin to influence events by the way we present the imperative case for disarmament. In government we can carry that influence much further, by example and by common action with others. We must use unilateral steps taken by Britain to secure multilateral solutions on the international level. Unilateralism and multilateralism must go hand ill hand if either is to succeed. It is for this reason that we are against moves that would disrupt our existing alliances, but are resolved on measures to enable Britain to pursue a non-nuclear defence policy.
To achieve our paramount aim – stopping the nuclear arms race itself, and the other arms races pursued beneath its shadow – we need stronger international institutions. First and foremost is a United Nations organisation with real and growing authority. Labour is determined to sustain and fortify the United Nations. All our recent experience re-emphasises how necessary it is to have an international Charter against aggression. It is a tragedy that the 1982 UN Special Session on Disarmament was allowed to disband in failure and disappointment. We shall work to recall a new session on a more ambitious and hopeful basis. We will support the commitments of the UN Special Sessions on Disarmament and the UN Committee on Disarmament.
We shall seek to restore the Final Document on Disarmament, approved by the 1978 United Nations Special Session, as the long-term objective. But, of course, as the international tension sharpens, we must pursue other more immediate aims. Labour has always opposed Soviet deployment of SS20s. We want to see the Geneva talks on intermediate weapons succeed. Labour was arguing that they should begin long before President Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher came round to the idea. It is imperative that the SALT II agreement is ratified. We shall work for this. We strongly support the reduction of strategic weapons in the START talks. We will propose urgent action to make the Non-Proliferation Treaty effective and to keep it effective. The uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons would enormously increase the danger to us all.
Following the steps taken by the last Labour government in such fields as non proliferation and the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction talks, Britain must again take a lead in disarmament negotiations.
The overriding task for Britain, as for the rest of the world, is to draw back from the nuclear abyss. Britain must act on her own account as well as seeking agreement with other countries on nuclear disarmament.
One immediate step our government must take is to insist on implementing the recent United Nations call for a freeze on the production, deployment and testing of nuclear weapons, and for a comprehensive test ban. That the Tory government should have voted against these propositions in the United Nations is deplorable, and betrays our country’s capacity to play a leading role as an advocate of world disarmament. Labour’s proposals will help to restore that opportunity.
Labour believes in effective defence through collective security but rejects the present emphasis on nuclear weapons. Britain and her allies should have sufficient military strength to discourage external aggression and to defend themselves should they be attacked. Labour’s commitment is to establish a non-nuclear defence policy for this country. This means the rejection of any fresh nuclear bases or weapons on British soil or in British waters, and the removal of all existing nuclear bases and weapons, thus enabling us to make a direct contribution to an eventually much wider nuclear-free zone in Europe. However, all this cannot be done at once, and the way we do it must be designed to assist in the task to which we are also committed – securing nuclear disarmament agreements with other countries and maintaining co operation with our allies.
The most pressing objective must be to prevent the deployment here or elsewhere in Western Europe of Cruise or Pershing missiles. This deployment would mark a new and dangerous escalation in the nuclear arms race. It would make the achievement of effective disarmament agreements covering these and other weapons much more difficult in the future. We will therefore not permit the siting of Cruise missiles in this country and will remove any that are already in place.
The next Labour government will cancel the Trident programme. Apart from the huge, persisting and distorting burden it would impose on our defence budget and our economy as a whole, it would not offer security but would rather help to intensify the arms race. We will propose that Britain’s Polaris force be included in the nuclear disarmament negotiations in which Britain must take part. We will, after consultation, carry through in the lifetime of the next parliament our non-nuclear defence policy.
Labour believes in collective security. The next Labour government will maintain its support for NATO, as an instrument of détente no less than of defence. We wish to see NATO itself develop a non-nuclear strategy. We will work towards the establishment of a new security system in Europe based on mutual trust and confidence, and knowledge of the objectives and capabilities of all sides. The ultimate objective of a satisfactory relationship in Europe is the mutual and concurrent phasing out of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
We oppose any attempt to expand the role of the alliance into other continents. We condemn the doctrine that nuclear war can be limited, and the notion that somehow the West must catch up with a supposed nuclear superiority in the East. We are opposed to the introduction into Europe of any new nuclear systems such as the neutron bomb. We oppose, too, the storage, research and production of chemical and biological weapons, and call for the withdrawal of all forward stocks of chemical weapons.
Labour will reduce the proportion of the nation’s resources devoted to defence so that the burden we bear will be brought into line with that of the other major European NATO countries, without increasing the reliance on nuclear weapons. A Labour government will plan to ensure that savings in military expenditure do not lead to unemployment for those working in defence industries. We shall give material support and encouragement to plans for industrial conversion so that the valuable resources of the defence industries can be used for the production of useful goods.
The emphasis of our defence priorities in the 1980s and 1990s must be to create military forces that are clearly equipped and deployed for defensive purposes, and tailored more to Britain’s geography and economic resources. This will mean maintaining adequate conventional forces, at present threatened by the extravagant expenditure on Trident.
We are alarmed by the growth of the arms trade. Labour will limit Britain’s arms sales abroad and ban the supply of arms to repressive regimes such as South Africa, El Salvador, Chile, Argentina and Turkey. We will not supply arms to countries where the chances of international aggression or internal repression would be increased. Labour will ensure that all arms sales are under strict ministerial control, subject to parliamentary accountability.
The Commonwealth and the developing world
We shall continue to work for the peaceful and just settlement of disputes and the strengthening of international organisations, particularly the Commonwealth, as well as the United Nations. Labour has always attached a special significance to the Commonwealth – a unique forum of nations, cutting across ethnic, cultural and ideological barriers. We will strengthen Britain’s political and material commitment to the Commonwealth.
The future prosperity of Britain, as well as that of other industrialised countries, is inextricably linked to the future of the developing world. At the moment some 30 per cent of Britain’s manufacturing exports are destined for Third World countries with which we enjoy a very healthy balance of trade. If their economies could be stimulated, the gain would be ours as well as theirs. Countless British jobs have already come about as a consequence of our trading relationship with the poorer countries. That relationship must be strengthened and expanded in the interests of working people both in Britain and overseas.
The war that Labour will wage on poverty in Britain will be extended to the developing world. A primary objective of the next Labour government’s foreign policy will be to help revive the North-South dialogue. That some 800,000,000 people should be condemned to a life of absolute poverty in the Third World is an affront to any version of civilised values, as well as a constant threat to international peace and stability.
Labour sets a high priority on attacking the causes of mass poverty. A Labour government will reach the UN sponsored aid target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Product and work towards a further target of 1.0 per cent. We will also re-establish the principle that aid must be used in the interests of the poorest people in the poorest countries and, in our efforts to bring this about, we will fund as appropriate, both governments and independent organisations. Labour will set up once again a separate Ministry of Overseas Development with a cabinet minister.
Labour will plan an expansion of trade with the developing world and will work to bring about changes in the international trading system that will be of benefit to poor countries, allowing them to receive stable prices for their commodity exports and to diversify their production. In trade agreements, Labour will insist upon workers’ rights and will bring in legislation to control the activities of British-based multinational companies operating overseas.
Labour believes that, in order to enhance the prospects of the Third World economies, it will be vital to ensure that organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund receive adequate funding from the world community, and provide loans in a way that, taking into account the economic difficulties faced by each developing country, will improve the condition of their peoples.
There is much Britain can do to lift people out of absolute poverty, and a Labour Britain will once again speak out in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed everywhere.
We will ensure that provision for overseas students is based on a major expansion of the ODA programme for student sponsorship giving preference to entrants on grounds of origin, income level and availability of courses in Britain and elsewhere.
The Law of the Sea
Labour welcomes the recently concluded United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea and fully supports the UNCLOS proposal for a new international regime covering every aspect of ocean use. Unlike either the Tory government or the Reagan administration, Labour will endorse the Law of the Sea, which we see as a crucial element in the North-South dialogue, and will ensure that Britain participates actively in the future progress of UNCLOS.
Near and Middle East
The Labour Party is committed to the promotion of peace, democracy and socialism in the Middle East, and to the principle of national self-determination. The Arab-Israeli conflict remains a major element in the continuing conflict and tension in the region, through not the only one. The core of the conflict is the struggle between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples for the realisation of national self-determination.
We shall therefore:
Support the right of all Israelis to live in peace and security in the state of Israel, within secure internationally recognised borders.
Support the right of Palestinians to self determination, including the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The suffering of the Lebanese people and their continued occupation by foreign forces demands our attention, and we shall work for the restoration of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Lebanon, and play a full part in its reconstruction.
The Turkish dictatorship is of special concern to Britain, given Turkish membership of NATO and its status in Europe. We deplore the constitution imposed upon the Turkish people and will work for the restoration of freedom and democracy. Until this is achieved we shall oppose assistance to the Turkish junta.
Labour is deeply concerned by the continuing violation of human rights throughout the Middle East. Labour will do what it can to help those struggling for freedom, democracy, civil and trade union rights.
We support genuine guarantees for the independent, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, and the pursuit of intercommunal discussions sponsored by the UN for as long as both communities are committed to those talks.
We are totally opposed to apartheid and will unequivocally support its opponents, giving financial and material assistance to the liberation movements in South Africa and SWAPO of Namibia. Labour will also work with our trade union colleagues to assist the non-racial trade unions in. South Africa.
We will carry through a systematic programme of economic disengagement from South Africa by supporting comprehensive mandatory sanctions at the UN and curtailing our economic relations with the regime. The details of our policy towards Southern Africa are set out in Labour’s Programme 1982.
Latin America is a continent in crisis. The world recession and severe financial difficulties have added to the burden of already frail economies. Democracy is established in very few countries; torture and death are instruments of control in many areas.
Central America is of particular concern. Treated for decades by the United States as its backyard, the countries of this region have almost without exception failed to establish a tradition of representative democracy. Millions of people have endured a lifetime of oppression and deprivation. In recent years, the pressure for social change to respond to basic needs has grown intense, but has met with the firm resistance of the wealthy and the powerful, invariably backed by Washington. This is true of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Labour rejects US policy in Central America. Regrettably, the Tory government has connected Britain with that policy by its slavish support for everything the Reagan administration says and does. This applies even in the case of Guatemala, which the US is re-arming, when it lays claim to Belize, to whose defence we are committed.
Labour will do everything in its power to weaken Latin America’s repressive governments by, for example, withdrawing diplomatic representation, opposing multilateral loans, banning arms sales and drawing international attention to human rights violations. Our detailed policy is set out in Labour’s Programme 1982.
Mrs. Thatcher’s policy of Fortress Falklands is imposing an intolerable burden both on the British people and on the inhabitants of the Falklands themselves. The war, which wiser policies could have avoided, has already cost us £1,000 million. On top of that the Conservative government plans to spend £600 million a year for the indefinite future on garrisoning the islands – £1 1/2 million per year for every Falklands family.
With four British servicemen on the islands to every adult male Falklander, the traditional way of life of this rural community is being destroyed. Yet at the same time Mrs. Thatcher is allowing British firms to equip warships for the Argentine dictatorship and is lending money to General Bignone to spend on arms. A Labour government would not sell arms to any Argentine government which was hostile to Britain or denied civil rights and democratic freedoms to its own people. Labour believes that Britain must restore normal links between the Falklands and the Latin American mainland, and that the United Nations must be involved in finding a permanent settlement of the problem.
Emotional as well as political ties exist between Britain and many of the countries of Asia. It was the 1945 Labour government which gave independence to India and Pakistan.
Labour is concerned about the suppression of human and civil rights in many of the countries of Asia, and we will support every extension of democracy in the region. A Labour government will end military involvement with those countries that have repressive regimes.
The Labour Party is concerned that the Tory policy on overseas students’ fees has already affected the ability of students from Asia, as well as elsewhere, to undertake courses in Britain. Steps will be taken to improve the position, as laid out in a previous section.
Labour believes in a closer understanding with China, and hopes that China can become more directly involved in international discussions on peace, disarmament and the world economy. We will hold talks with China with the aim of securing a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Hong Kong.
Japan is a major power in the world economy. We hope to persuade Japan to play a more active part in a concerted expansion of the economies of the industrial nations, and to remove the obstacles that her trade policies now create. We also hope that Japan will help to bridge the division between North and South by increasing her aid to the Third World.
Labour gives the highest priority to the protection of human dignity, civil rights, democracy and freedom, which will be reflected in all that a Labour government does.
We uphold the rights of all nations to self-determination. Accordingly, we condemn the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and US support for repressive regimes in Central America. We warn against all military interventions contrary to the UN Charter. We condemn violations of human rights wherever they occur, whether in Poland, Turkey or Nigeria, and whatever the complexion of the government concerned. Labour will further the cause of human rights in all international organisations. We will press for suspension from NATO of any dictatorship.
We will protect the opponents of regimes from harassment by their government’s representatives in Britain. Our policy on refugees will be more compassionate than that of the Tory government. We will not deport individuals who would face arrest or death in their own countries.
We will also take into account human rights considerations when giving aid. Official aid will not be given to governments that persistently violate civil and trade union rights. Help will instead be given to the victims of repression.