The election campaign to date has been very muted. There is precious little on offer by way of statements of principle, an understanding of the problems we face or of policies that might take us somewhere different. The mean-spirited carping about character, leadership and who said what yesterday has little place in our electoral system, and the general lack of enthusiasm – a marked contrast with the recent campaigns in Scotland – reflects that.
It’s somewhat frustrating, too, to find that the parties have still not been able, despite several years’ notice of the date, to publish a manifesto in good time. So here, offered in the spirit of Blue Peter, is one they made earlier. This is an extract from The New Britain, Labour’s first electoral manifesto in 1964. It’s one of a substantial set of electoral manifestos offered since 1948 at http://www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/man.htm .
Britain could and should have had it a whole lot better, and in the process have shown a greater concern for the needs of others. … [This approach] has led to growing stagnation, unemployment and under employment in large parts of the North, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, combined with a drift of work and people to the overcrowded London and Midland regions. … it has led to chaos in our transport system. with unused rail and overused road services and an appalling congestion problem in all our cities. … it has led to soaring land and house prices which have made it almost impossible for local authorities to replan our towns or for many ordinary families to buy or rent a home. … it has led to a pervasive atmosphere of irresponsibility; to a selfish, get-rich-quick mood, in which the public interest is always subordinated to private advantage. No nation in the history of human endeavour was ever inspired to become great (or greater) with the venal philosophy of “I’m all right, Jack”.
The consequences of their attitude to public expenditure have been no less crippling. While public money has been lavished on wasteful military projects, and while the Government has imposed on itself an ever-increasing burden of interest payments on the national debt, vital community services have been starved of resources. In social security, we still have austerity … benefits that impose poverty standards on the retired, the sick and the unemployed and deny them their proper share in rising living standards. In community services of all kinds we face such critical and neglected needs as the rebuilding of our towns, the creation of a modern road system, the provision of new hospitals and schools, and a desperate need for new housing.