Labour Party Manifesto
Statement of Principles
Our focus is on defending the legal, economic, and civil rights of all people in the United Kingdom. Our party wants to represent the interest of all people in hopes to build upon solidarity within this great country. Change will occur more quickly if everyone is involved in the political process, and the results will benefit a greater majority of people than in the past.
In our manifesto from 1997 we clearly stated, "New Labour is a party of ideas and ideals but not of outdated ideology. What counts is what works. The objectives are radical. The means will be modern" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/election97/background/parties
/manlab/labmanintro.html). We are dedicated to progress and will initiate policies that will lead the United Kingdom to strengthen its position in global politics. We are dedicated to progressing forward and are not required to observe the ideologies of the past. We must set new and innovative policies that will benefit today’s children but tomorrow’s leaders.
As the governing party of the United Kingdom, the Labour party has had to make tough policy decisions over the last few years. Our decisions must meet the wishes of our constituents, the ideals of our party, and the needs of the community. Our current policy regarding gay marriage produced the Civil Partnership Bill of 2004. This bill enabled same-sex relationships to obtain legal status. Giving these relationships legal status allows them recognition by the government and so the nation. Under the Civil Partnership Bill, partners of same-sex relationships are entitled to secure pension rights, the title of next of kin, and are not subject to an inheritance tax on their partner’s estate.
It is our commitment to equality that has served to secure this piece of legislation. “Our vision is of an equal, inclusive society where every citizen is treated with respect and where there is opportunity for all ... We promote equality for all regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, age or personal disability (www.labour.org.uk/index.php?id=equalities04).” It is a sense of togetherness that has made our vision so strong, and as our vision grows, so we hope to grow with it.
Iranian Compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
Recent developments have yielded concerns throughout the world about Iranian nuclear development. It is generally believed that Iran’s nuclear efforts are focused on uranium enrichment, rather than civilian power.
It is our position that Iran comply with the provisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT]. The world cannot allow for Iran to attain nuclear weapons. That is why the United Kingdom under the Labour government led the effort in urging Iran to comply with the IAEA inspection regime. We, other members of the European Union, and the United States have launched a coordinated drive to press Iran to abandon its most sensitive nuclear activities which experts believe could enable them to create nuclear weapons.
We support efforts to offer Iran economic incentives: a start to World Trade Organization membership talks and access to civil aircraft and spare parts. Even though this is a major shift in policy for the United Kingdom, we feel if these concessions are necessary for corporation it is in our best interests to do so.
However, if despite all efforts Iran does not suspend their uranium enrichment activities, then we would support referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council for consideration of sanctions and/or other more serious preventative measures. We stand united with the other members of the EU3 and the United States in our determination that Iran should not acquire nuclear weapons capability.
Adoption of Euro
The Labour Party remains committed to the adoption of the euro as the currency of the United Kingdom and have worked diligently toward this goal since 1997. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, set five economic standards that the euro must meet before the United Kingdom begins preparations to adopt the single currency. Bruce Stanley of the Associated Press stated on June 10, 2003 that, “The Labour government had set five economic tests for membership: sustainable convergence between Britain and the euro economies; flexibility to cope with economic change; impact on investment; impact on jobs; and the impact on Britain’s enormous financial services industry” (http://www.detnews.com/2003/business/0306
We strive to maintain a working relationship with Europe and do not want to isolate the United Kingdom from any economic opportunities presented in the future by the European Monetary System. In our election manifesto from 1997 we stated, “…to exclude British membership of EMU forever would be to destroy any influence we have over a process which will affect us whether we are in or out” (http://www.univ-pau.fr/~parsons/labman97.htm).
The implementation of the euro as the United Kingdom’s currency would have to be voted on and subsequently passed by each sector. In a House of Commons debate in October 2003, Ruth Kelly, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury stated there would be “a vote in the Cabinet, Parliament, and a referendum by the British people” to whether the United Kingdom would adopt the euro as its single currency (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ cm200203/cmha
nsrd/vo031016/debtext/31016-03.htm). The Labour Party’s position is that the five economic standards must receive approval by Chancellor Brown, the Cabinet and Parliament vote, and a referendum voted on by the people would allow for the adoption of the euro as the United Kingdom’s currency.
The Labour Party acknowledges the concerns of the people of the United Kingdom about the possible change of currency, yet we believe under the right economic circumstances that the change is possible. The UK government published a leaflet that provides information on which countries have adopted the euro as their currency, our government’s policy on the euro, and a detailed plan for a possible change in currency. The leaflet clearly states, “If the UK decided to join the euro, then the change would happen in stages” (http://www.euro.gov.uk/publications/EuroLeaflet.pdf). We encourage the people of the United Kingdom to become informed about the transition of currencies and how the euro will impact their economic interests. We believe that it will take a period of time to make the necessary changes and that the implementation of the euro will benefit the United Kingdom in trade relations, foreign and local businesses, and strengthen foreign relations with European countries.
Immigration and Asylum
Immigration and asylum are two interlocking issues that currently in the forefront of European politics. It has been the dominant issue in elections of several countries. The United Kingdom is no exception.
The Labour Party believes in maintaining the long standing tradition of the United Kingdom of being a safe haven for those fleeing their homelands because of persecution and being a destination for those seeking economic opportunities (http://www.labour.org.uk/asylumandimmigration04/). With that being said, the level of abuse of within the system needs to be taken care of. We do not feel that the current immigration procedures have been sufficient in dealing with these abuses; however we do feel that the majority of migration has been legitimate and is not as bad as others may want the public to believe. The party believes that even though there may be high profile cases of radicals preaching hate in the United Kingdom the migration of capable workers should not be stifled (http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/page5708.asp).
While the others suggest a quota system, we are steadfast in the belief that if such a number is placed that it is merely superficial. We feel quotas will not restore the trust of the people and that a better system is the only way to really restore the faith of the public. The Labour Party does not feel that an artificial quota number will be able to handle the fluctuations in immigration. There is not a valid reason to prevent a capable worker from contributing to the United Kingdom. We believe that immigration is a key to the economic health of the United Kingdom. Historically, whenever there was labor gaps, workers from outside the UK were used. From as early as 1694 with French merchants to current IT professionals from India and the United States, the United Kingdom has relied on outside resources to help its economy (http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/page5708.asp).
Though labor migration is essential to a healthy economy, it does not mean that immigrants are able to come and go as they please. We feel that the process of evaluation for immigrant should be fair, thorough, and more importantly firm. There needs to be further changes to the current immigration laws. One of our current goals is to simplify the system. The current system of evaluation for workers is inefficient. We feel there needs to be a stronger overhaul of the Immigration Act of 1971. Despite being amended over 16 times since 1971, a true streamline set must be created (http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/content/ind/en/home.html). Further reform is needed to expedite the ability to process claims quickly and improve the evaluation process. We will seek to implement a point system similar to the one that has proven effective in Canada and Australia. This system will reward workers with skills that are in demand to have a better opportunity of entering the United Kingdom. We have been actively pushing for the restriction of rights of the people to permanently settle or to bring in their extended families. Also, we feel there needs to be stronger measures to prevent people smugglers (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/1uk_politics/4241989.stm). We seek to create a system to document the number of people that are migrating in and out of the UK. The previous paperwork based system proved unusable and inefficient. Our current plans include electronic documentation with national ID cards and fingering printing of all visas.
The Labour Party feels that international cooperation is necessary and fundamental to the issue of immigration. A point of success that the Labour Party often points to is the screening of passengers at the Paris Eurostar terminal. In effort to prevent smuggling, 100% of the freight brought into the UK is screened in Calais (http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/page5708.asp). The Labour Party believes in adherence to the UNHCR standards and in the benefits of remaining in the UNCHR resettlement program (http://www.labour.org.uk/asylumandimmigration04).
Within the issue of immigration, asylum seems to be an even more controversial topic itself. We believe in the tradition of being a safe haven for persecution; however that does not mean anyone claiming persecution is allowed admittance into the United Kingdom. We also propose a change that refugees will no longer have a permanent right to stay. They will be asked to leave when it is safe for them to do so. We have proposed current legislation in Parliament that seeks to create a single tier of appeal to create a more efficient method of evaluating asylum applicants (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/1uk_politics/4241989.stm). Despite making much progress in the issue of asylum during our 2nd term in office, we feel more reform is necessary, and we will fulfill those goals.
The gasoline tax has been implemented for several different reasons. The Labour Party holds that the tax on gasoline will reduce its consumption, therefore improving the environment. We came to this conclusion as a result of researchers finding that gasoline combustion causes local air pollution and emissions of carbon, which may affect the future global climate, and that this gas poses a threat to human health, causing respiratory problems and even premature mortality. We also implemented this tax to help alleviate traffic congestions in United Kingdom. The intent is to encourage citizens to choose alternative routs, which as a result would alleviate traffic congestions (http://www.rff.org).
We have no plans were being made to shelve a scheduled tax increase despite threat of disruptive protests (www.nytimes.com). We are however open to a suggestion that still satisfies our goals of lower pollution and traffic alleviation. We understand the public’s displeasure with the gasoline tax, but we feel we must act in the best interest of the country. If we use part of the surplus built up by the chancellor, we run the risking of putting the United Kingdom into recession. The current level of taxation is even slightly below the western European average.
“We could, of course, cut more off the fuel duty if we reversed the extra investment we have announced on schools, hospitals, transport, and the police. Government is about choices…I could get rid of the fuel duty altogether – never mind the 26p the protestors are asking for – if we had French levels of tax or business tax from Europe or VAT rates from Europe… I’m not saying tax cuts are off the agenda, but they can’t be at the expense of investment and they must have good sound economic rationale.” – PM Blair (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1007786.stm)
In 2000, Chancellor Brown scrapped the fuel price escalator put into place in 1993 by the Tories. We did not create the Fuel Price Escalator, and we find it interesting that today the Tories are attacking us for the fuel tax. In fact, the accusations of petrol pump price rising to 71% are inaccurate. The Tories party’s figure comes from a combination of duty and VAT. The amount created by VAT rises and increases in gasoline prices and duty is the exact same 17.5% that we inherited from the Tories.
The Labour party is willing to make the best decisions based on sound economics. This does not mean we are in full support of fuel tax increases in every sector. In fact recently, we ruled out introducing a fuel tax on aviation. In that decision, we have upset some of the members of the G7 group, but as with the gasoline tax, we must make the best decision for the United Kingdom (http://politics.guardian.co.uk/green/story/0.9061.1408376,00.html)
Ultimately, we aim to ensure affordable, accessible, and quality public services for the citizens of the United Kingdom (http://www.pes.org).
The Contract Delivered
In 2001, we spoke of the Labour Party’s contract being delivered. At this time, we would like to do the same. Over the course of the last two terms, we have delivered to you the goals we have outlined in our manifestos. We will continue to honor that tradition now with our current goals. In closing, we think it is best left to the words of Tony Blair:
“We set out in the manifesto that follows… commitments, commitments that form our bond of trust with the people. Judge us on them. Have trust in us and we will repay the trust. This is our contract with the people.” (http://www.labour.org.uk/fileadmin/labour/user/attachedfiles/manifesto24_44.pdf)