An insight into Labour’s new agenda? Exploring the leaked policy handbook
By Ellie Anderson, junior Consultant
On Thursday, the 11th of May, we saw the most comprehensive version yet of Labour’s future policy commitments, as their 86-page policy report handbook was leaked.
Acting as an internal policy consultation document, written for discussion at the upcoming National Policy Forum (NPF) meeting in July, the document represents the latest stage of a four-year making policy process. In formation since 2020, the process will conclude just before the next General Election, when the Party holds a ‘Clause V’ meeting to agree to the final manifesto.
The leaked document is significant, demonstrating Labour’s thinking on the policies that will likely form the basis of the manifesto. Crucially, however, the contents of this document will need to be approved at the Labour Party Conference in October, and only some of this may be included after the Clause V meeting. The NPF acts not as a definitive policy-making body but as an advisory forum. Nonetheless, it still provides valuable insight into current policy thinking.
The document is broken down into six sections based on the topics which form the basis of the Labour Party’s policy-making process:
- Labour’s Plan for a Green and digital future
- Better Jobs and Better Work
- Safety and Security of Our Communities
- A focus on improving Public Services
- A Future where families come first
- Britain in the world
Framed to compliment the five national missions that Keir Starmer set out ahead of May’s local elections, the document is intended to ‘inform Labour’s policy proposals ahead of the next general election’. Announcing in February that these missions would be the backbone of Labour’s commitment to the country, they focused on the economy, the NHS, crime, climate change and education.
This was reflected in the leaked document, as we saw a commitment to reforming vast swathes of the country, including creating a ‘GB Energy Network’, which would focus on creating a British-based publicly owned body, delivering clean power to the country. Committing to a green future, the document also announced the investment of £28bn of public capital a year into the green economy.
Bold in many of its approaches, the document suggests Labour is focused on a large-scale shift in the culture of living, setting homeownership targets at 70% and adding over 13,000 PCSOs and neighbourhood police officers onto Britain’s streets.
Though the basis of the leak is unclear, first reported on by Labour List, the reaction to this document will be valuable to the direction of travel Labour takes next. Currently polling at 43% in the poll, ahead of the Conservative’s 26%, this is a perfect opportunity for Labour to test the water on where it thinks the public’s priorities lie.
With the Leadership expressing that this document was an ‘initial draft – subject to amendment’, what is clear is the Party is now presenting itself as entering the final stages of preparing for government. Expressing that Labour was now ‘on an election footing’, the Party has not been in the final stages of manifesto construction since 2015.
Standing before Progressive Britain’s conference on Saturday, Starmer made no secret of the position Labour now finds itself. Announcing to the audience, ‘I don’t care’ if Labour’s priorities ‘sound conservative’, this formed a clear message to the British public – the Party has well and truly set its sights beyond internal conflicts. Recognising the Party had now changed its culture, Starmer declared he would go ‘further and deeper’ than ever to ensure Labour became the Party of power.
Expressing his desire for the Party to become the representative of working people in Britain, where the ‘Conservatives have clearly failed’, this is also reflected in the leaked policy document. Committing to an employment rights bill within the first 100 days of entering office, the document details a range of measures focused on reforming and ‘revitalising’ the economy and job market.
Identifying Labour as the representative of working people in Britain, the leaked handbook goes a long way to prove the Party’s intentions – showing themselves to be fiscally cautious but bold in their policy commitments. With little mention of policy construction coming from the Conservative Party, this was a first glimpse of where the key battleground will be ahead of the election – with Labour putting working people at the heart of where it thinks it can win.