Why we need to keep fighting to build on Jeremy Corbyn’s 2019 manifesto policies

Jeremy Corbyn
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The lead-up to Labour conference 2021 – the first proper Labour conference since Jeremy Corbyn stood down as leader in 2020 – is a good time to reflect upon the state of the UK left, what it gained during Corbyn’s time as Labour leader, what it’s lost since, and how it might rebuild for the future.

The obvious place to begin is the 2019 Labour manifesto, which remains a considerable achievement. The manifesto was a democratic, realistic, and left-wing policy platform worked out with help from civil servants. Its very existence repudiates the insistence by right-wing ideologues in the mainstream media and cross-party political elite that socialism isn’t practical and can’t work in the UK. It also provides a programme around which the UK left, historically fragmented and factional, can unify.

The 2019 manifesto

The UK’s domineering political right wing – inside and outside the Labour Party – needs to discredit Corbyn and his achievements if they are to legitimise their conformity with the fundamentally unjust status quo. They hope that some of the mud flung at the man will stick to the policies he popularised. Thankfully, they appear to be failing. This is largely due to the self-destructive incompetence of Keir Starmer’s “leadership” of the Labour Party. Starmer’s team has failed to craft its own narrative with which to critique government policy, leaving the 2019 Labour manifesto as the most obvious point of reference for anyone looking for an alternative way of doing politics and policy.

That said, the continuing relevance of the 2019 manifesto is also a sign of the failure by the left to forge its own narrative since Corbyn stood down. The manifesto has not yet been properly defended or further developed, despite many opportunities over the past year and a half for doing just that.

For instance, the Furlough scheme, for which Corbyn’s Labour and its trade union allies were essentially responsible, proves that it’s possible for the government to fund a form of basic income. Working alongside the 2019 manifesto’s promise of Universal Basic Services and a right to food, a form of basic income could provide permanent financial security to everyone in the UK.

As early as March 2020, the New Economics Foundation outlined the merits of a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) of £221 for everyone who needs it. Meanwhile other think tanks like the Resolution Foundation argued for measures to reform the existing benefits system, such as uplifting Universal Credit, as a readily available way to improve social security.

These two policy proposals are compatible. A guaranteed minimum income for all who need it, rolled out via the system established for Universal Credit, would be an effective and sustainable replacement to the furlough scheme. It would ensure real security for most people, and economic confidence and growth for the UK economy.

Read on...

However, although John McDonnell initially made the argument for a Minimum Income Guarantee last year, the argument for this policy has not been consistently made by a left which has, until the last few weeks, seemed to be in retreat and on the defensive. The policy is now rarely mentioned.

Broader policy

There are exceptions, such as Ian Byrne’s support for the Right to Food campaign. But mostly the left has been more preoccupied with defending important but relatively small gains than building support for a reimagined society. While the campaign to keep the £20 Universal Credit uplift is laudable – and essential – it has not been tied to a broader policy proposal, such as a form of Universal Basic Income like MIG. It therefore amounts to a defence of an already inadequate and unjust status quo and is not itself a progressive vision of the future. One that promises social justice and financial security for all, via the provision of essential services, including income, free at the point of need, which we desperately need.

As a result of this retreat, the British left, once largely united within Labour under Corbyn’s policy platform, has fragmented. Now, we’re seeing new, smaller parties emerge, such as the Breakthrough and Northern Independence parties, as well as the Workers’ Party of Great Britain, alongside the still extant TUSC and Left Unity. Thankfully, this fragmentation has not yet led to overt factional warfare on the left. Nevertheless, this remains a risk. And the best way to avoid it is to seek unity in common objectives, and a shared narrative about the future of the UK that can be emphasised to overcome relatively minor differences.

There’s no better common objective than making the policy platform of Labour’s 2019 manifesto – or preferably a further developed version of it – a reality. Electoral competition may be a natural point of division, but a broadly shared cross-party vision, of what a more socially just UK would look like in practice, is still the best way to create a sense of shared purpose.


Thankfully, the Labour left has regained some of its confidence. The call to shift the debate over social care funding onto the broader issue of taxing wealth is encouraging. But the fight isn’t just about the Labour Party. The wider left must take its campaigns to local councils across the country, urging them to adopt motions supporting strengthened versions of the policies of 2019. By doing this, we can build a cross party social and political consensus for the policies that are essential if we, the ordinary people of the UK, are to prosper in the future.

Last year, as part of a campaign led by the COSMOS Peoples’ Org, I worked to defend and develop the policies of the Corbyn manifesto of 2019. These efforts are the foundation of a series of exclusive articles for The Canary, which will explain why we need the policies of the 2019 Corbyn manifesto more than ever and consider how they can be made even better.

The COSMOS has chosen to highlight ten policies which are essential to providing security and a decent life for ordinary people:

  • An end to, and reversal of, NHS privatisation.
  • A publicly owned and national social care service.
  • A guaranteed minimum income for everyone out of work.
  • A fair tax system, which brings taxation of wealth into line with that of income.
  • Millions more high-quality council houses for those who need them.
  • Caps on private sector rents with security of tenure.
  • A national education service providing free, lifelong learning.
  • A green industrial revolution to provide high quality jobs.
  • Public ownership of utilities.
  • Secure employment for all.

The next article will discuss the need to end and reverse the trend of asset-stripping and privatising the NHS. This trend has been let loose since the passing of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, and it threatens to further increase following upcoming government legislation.

Featured image via YouTube – Guardian

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  • Show Comments
      1. Yep, thats right tory boy, and as to 1935, ten years later the population had realised their mistake, elected Clement Attlee, whom gave us the NHS….
        Corbyn, no doubt will trigger the exact same effect…..
        Go hide your cash, little piggy…..

        1. That 10 years is actually very important!
          Was the situation the same where there was 2 Parties The UK Labour Party and an equivalent to the Parasite Neolabour Party TORIES? Any the ‘would be Corbyn’ was defeated by the Parasites within? Did the People use the next GE to Oust and Vote out The Parasite Party and Start Fresh with a reduced but already established and effective Opposition Party, with CLP in ever seat, Unions, Members working their buts off to Bring a Party FOR The PEOPLE to Number 10?
          We can do that!
          VOTE WISELY!
          Know your UK Labour Party MPs/Candidates from the Parasite Neolabour Party TORY MPs/Candidates! Keep reminding yourself who did what 2015 to 2020! Who were the people responsible for Stealing a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity to END 42 YEARS OF TORY HELL from The PEOPLE, TWICE 2017/2019!
          We had a Choice then Democratic Socialism for The PEOPLE vs Thatcherite Neoliberal TORIES for The ELITES/ESTABLISHMENT!
          NOW! Our NON-Choices are Thatcherite Neoliberal TORIES for The ELITES/ESTABLISHMENT vs Thatcherite Neoliberal TORIES for The ELITES/ESTABLISHMENT!
          NO CHANGE!
          NO CHOICE!
          Don’t worship The Brand!
          Vote for a Democratic Socialist, UK Labour Party For The PEOPLE especially those with NOTHING LEFT but TORY MISERY! For us it will also take 10 years if we play our cards right!

        2. I see, losing the election was all part of JCs master plan. So he isn’t a hapless pious puritan but a cunning political genius.
          By the way I’ve never voted Tory and am too long in the tooth to be refered to as a boy.
          Not sure why I would hide my cash as I have little of it being a averagely paid key worker.
          But quite like pigs. Chin chin.

      2. Did any Politician in History EVER ANYWHERE receive a 24/7 Onslaught of Internal Sabotage, Smear, Lies, Propaganda, Undermining, Spin? A 24/7 Barrage of MSM Sabotage, Smear, Lies, Propaganda, Undermining, Spin? A 24/7 International Get Corbyn Witch-Hunt from UK, USA and Israel Governments and Organisations? A Clanging of Empty Tin Can Spin 2nd Referendum/People’s Vote [which they already had in form of Confirmatory Vote] Bandwagon? A Clanging of Empty Tin Can Spin Vote Brexit and Corbyn doesn’t understand the Working Class [bc The TWO TORIES BoJoke & Keith “certainly do!”] Bandwagon? A Parasite TORY Party within of 80% attacking him so relentlessly the Actual Government had nothing more to do, to fight against the LOTO, than Twiddle their Thumbs, because it was all done for them!
        Ever had masses of crowds appear wherever they went to speak/campaign yet their opponent who gets chased out of towns, has to sneak in the back door at TV studios, gave up doing interviews/hustings/debates/etc halfway through his campaign wins the GE and his first words as PM are “Well, we did it folks, WE PULLED IT OFF, didn’t we WE PULLED IT OF!”, like some Bank Job/Grift!
        If you can name that one person please and point to the evidence of these relentless Lies, Attacks, Sabotage, Smear, Propaganda, Undermining and Spin!

      3. No. He MASSIVELY increased Labour membership, revered the downward spiral caused by Bliar’s neoliberalism, and increased the number of brits who voted labour.

        However, he faced the rotten Tory/corporate media strategy of creating, funding and very well promoting a NEW political party supporting Brexshit. There was nothing he could do against this illegitimate tactic, as the corporate media liars had already propagandised much of the working public with “GET BREXSHIT DONE ZOMGZZ!!!”.

        A lot of people who have been let down by the education system in this country fell for it.

        Now, what do you think the Establishment would do if a group of wealthy Labour backers with foreign money set up a Party that ONLY SAT IN TORY MARGINALS FOR A GE?

        Why, you’re right Lassie, that would cause them to cancel the election result, especially if said party then shuttered itself a few days after that election.

        Fortunately, so we avoided the new concentration camps for British Jews under Corbyn (/sarcasm), this was the neolib TORIES doing this, so all was well.

        Here’s a quick question, and its a shock to NOBODY that the corporate media haven’t ever asked it: “What would that election result have been without this new Brexshit Party’s spoiling effect?”.


        Corbyn WON that election, because such shenanigans are actually illegal, so that result is void.

        Of ocurse, the ‘right’ people won. Lol.

        You know what I mean. >_<

        1. Food for Thought!

          Corbyn had faults he is Human! But The People of Great Britain were Robbed of the best damned Prime Minister of All Time and The People of the World were Robbed The best damned British Leader!
          It is so blatantly obvious! The only places where the blatantly obvious Candidates Loose General Elections are where there are masses if resources and the Popular Candidate is a Socialist, and The Three Stooges USA, Israel, UK’s finger prints are all over the place every single time! The Three Stooges are very lucky, because 90% of The People are locked in a Zombified Sheeple state of MSM and Desire for Commercial/Materialist Crap!
          I wouldn’t look so far as across the Aisle. All the Conservative Tories needed to do was twiddle their Thumbs, The entire Charade was orchestrated and performed by The Neolabour Party Parasite Tories! Anyway it is all done, MSM/Elites divisions must be avoided at all costs Remain/Leave, Vaxxer/Anti-THIS-Vaxxer, Masker/Anti-Masker, this is all planned and look up The Pitchfork People vs The Torch People Cartoon! Well that division tactic cost us an end of 42 years of TORY HELL!

    1. The best LotO we’ve ever had.
      But people don’t know that because his hundreds of achievements (over 450 bills altered/stopped) received zero media coverage. Among many others that even includes:
      – Protecting the Triple Lock on Pensions (May tried to end it after promising not to)
      – Stopping the Tories from making any major policies between 17 and 19
      – Being the ONLY LotO to ever stop a gov budget
      – Being responsible for one third of ALL gov defeats ever, despite only being in office for four years.

      He continually embarrassed the Tories in Parliament. The only LotO who came close (412 achievements over a longer period of time) was Thatcher. The difference being that the media (Murdoch particularly) crowed over her every success, and never stopped ridiculing the Labour gov of the time, for being constantly embarrassed by the opposition.

      We’re truly at the ‘mercy’ of the media. Most people don’t know what brainwashing is, or that they’re victims to it, practically every day. It’s that effective.

      1. HEAR! HEAR!
        The thing is and was no matter what Socialist or what flavour of Socialism we put in LOTO position, at the moment The PEOPLE are Zombified Sheeple, as MSM thick as the Americans, we have a Massive Black Hole in our Electoral System, Two Equally Thatcherite TORY Parties at the top of the Table and many, many more years of Le Tory Cirque des Horreurs, from both The Conservative TORY Party and The Neolabour TORY Party, each trying to outdo the other’s Nasty!
        All we can do for now is keep trying to wake the people up from the MSM, Commensalist and Materialist Poisoned Apple of Manufactured Consent, that has them under its spell!
        If we could secure the Ballot Box between Polling Station and Counting Centre and keep The Three Stooges, USA, Israel, UK out of Meddling and Conniving in our Politics, we’d get a much more accurate Result and probably would have lived in a much finer Britain Today!

        1. It’s still the ‘Masters’ game. They want to control what you see, hear and read. What you are taught, and what you can do. They will that the working class be silent and compliant, and serve them. All for greed, and the fear of losing their power & influence.
          It’s how they are controlled by ‘distraction’ rather than people accepting serfdom. They know the workers can be made to worry about their jobs, their wages, their prospects and their families. That they can be divided by arguments around race, sexuality etc.
          Any damn thing and everything just so long as the working class are and stay divided. The best prison created is one without bars.

          To them, Jeremy Corbyn was an error. He was not controllable ( by them ). He slipped through the net ( it still had some holes big enough ). He attracted the people, both young and old, because he offered hope. His political ideas began to be popular. He wanted to change the ‘prison’. The public masses flocked to his soap box callings. He scared the ‘Masters’, for a while anyway, but definitely enough for them to engage the ‘dirty tricks’ campaign. Their arguments against his views were not working with the people. No great numbers were flocking to hear Teresa May speak. And if that wasn’t bad enough Jeremy Corbyn was against imperialism, wanted true democracy, sided with the Palestinians , and damn it, wanted peace in the world! They could not allow any of that.

          If you can’t win fairly, and have no conscience, then play the man! and undermine his immediate political support base. They own the weapon of the main stream media, so they started with scares of Russian influence, then ramped up to ( the ultimate? ) accusations of anti-sematism.

          Whilst their media went into desperate overdrive. They began the ‘cuckoo’ process inside the Labour party. Those that would show a collegiate face on the outside, but who were willing to undermine on the inside. They had been in place for a long time. Alas, Jeremy Corbyn being a gentle man ( wouldn’t play a dirty trick, even if he knew how ) could not withstand the relentless onslaught. The cuckoos, pretending to be socialist, hatched their plotting schemes from the shadows, and took over, and are busy pushing out of the nest, those who thought that the nest was socialist.
          And as cuckoos do, they make the nest their own, and will never let the socialist birds back in.

          To finish the metaphor; a Phoenix was needed to rise from the ashes.

          Seeing what was happening and anticipating the outcome, George Galloway headed up the creation of The Workers Party GB, an established and credible alternative to the Labour Party. A natural and organic socialist home in support of the Working Class. They continue to welcome those members from Labour who now realise Labour no longer stands behind the Working Class.

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