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The manifesto is out: now it’s up to us

The next 21 days are going to see them throw everything they can at us, but we can win real change, writes MATT WILLGRESS

JEREMY CORBYN launched Labour’s general election manifesto in Birmingham today. To put it simply, it is most radical and ambitious plan to transform our county in decades.

All over the country, people are already talking about key elements of the plan — including the transformative proposals for one million green jobs and the fast and free broadband for all policy.

There is so much to talk about when it comes to this manifesto, but something that really stood out for me was the radical and far-reaching housing policy.

As Corbyn explained: “Everyone knows someone affected by the housing crisis. Labour is offering real change to fix it.”

It is hard to overstate how revolutionary Labour’s plans in this area in the manifesto are.

They include new plans for the biggest council and social housing programme in decades.

Involved in this will be scaling up council-housebuilding to 100,000 homes a year by the end of the parliament — a more than 3,500 per cent increase — building at least 50,000 additional genuinely affordable homes a year through housing associations by the end of the parliament; and building at least 150,000 new council and social homes a year within five years, delivering the biggest council-housebuilding programme since the years immediately after the second world war, and the biggest overall affordable housebuilding programme since the 1960s.

This compares starkly with Tory inaction to tackle the housing crisis, and is one of many areas where the choice is very real — more of the same, or radical change.

The government’s own figures show that last year the number of government-funded affordable homes for social rent built fell by 90 per cent, to fewer than 1,000, while government figures suggest fewer than 3,000 council homes were built.

The scale of Labour’s building programme will mean that homes will be available in every area for families, trapped younger renters, and older people in substandard housing.

They will be built to green standards with cutting-edge design, and will be paid for by Labour’s Social Transformation Fund. Half of this fund — around £75 billion over five years — will be allocated to housing.

As part of the new programme, Labour will scrap the Conservatives’ absurd definition of “affordable” housing, replacing it with a new definition linked to local incomes, including social rent — which works out at around half the level of market rents — alongside new living rent and homes for low-cost ownership.

Corbyn said: “Housing should be for the many, not a speculation opportunity for dodgy landlords and the wealthy few.”

In housing and in so many other areas, this manifesto is about making Britain work for the many, not the few.

And you can tell this by the furious reaction of the rich and powerful to so many of the key policies Labour is announcing.

Astonishingly, a third of Britain’s billionaires have donated to the Conservative Party, and over the next 21 days, the most powerful people in Britain and their supporters are going to tell you that everything in this manifesto is impossible.

But together, we’re about to prove exactly the opposite. Because the economic and political Establishment don’t own us. Ordinary people up and down the country “own” the Labour Party and have done since Corbyn was elected in 2015.

That’s why the billionaire media makes things up about us, and the 1 per cent and their representatives are attacking us with such venom.

We’ve got just 21 days to take them on and to win. Let’s make it happen.

Matt Willgress is the national organiser of the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and editor of Labour Outlook – @LabourOutlook.

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