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The Morning Star’s top reasons to vote Labour today

Electing a Labour government this week would turn the tables on four decades of privatisation and deregulation and start the process of building a stronger, fairer and sustainable future for all of us. The Morning Star picks out policies that will start to make a difference right away

On Public Services Labour will:

• Repeal the privatising Health and Social Care Act brought in by the Tories and Lib Dems, legislate for safe staffing levels in the NHS and bring in bursaries for nurses and midwives

• Reduce the cost and therefore increase the availability of life-saving drugs by establishing a publicly owned generic drugs company

“The Health and Social Care Act set out to bust open the NHS, put contracts on the market and encourage private companies to bid for profitable slices — with over £9 billion now flowing out each year. So taking the NHS ‘off the table’ for any future trade talks with the US or elsewhere means reversing the Act and rolling back privatisation as Labour has committed to do — alongside moves to keep drug prices low”
John Lister, Keep Our NHS Public secretary

• Entitle all two, three and four-year-olds to 30 hours’ free preschool education a week within five years

• End the high-stakes testing culture by scrapping baseline, Key Stage 1 and KS2 Sats tests

• Bring free schools and academies back under local democratic control

“Labour’s proposals to scrap primary testing which drives the ‘exam factory’ culture in education, and to return control of schools to parents, teachers and local communities, marks a watershed moment. If Labour are elected, we have an opportunity to undo decades of negative reforms which have turned schools into exam factories, obsessed with churning out data, and return them to being places of learning and development for all children”
Gawain Little, primary school teacher in Norfolk

• Abolish tuition fees

“I was part of the first generation of my family to go to uni. My son will likely either lose the opportunity to go at all, or be saddled with crippling debt. It’s not just that we’ll keep tuition fees but they’ll shoot up to US levels — I have US family and a law degree can cost upwards of $80,000 a year”
Louise Raw, mum and author

• Bring our energy and water supply systems into democratic public ownership

“It’s fantastic that Labour are committing to start the process of bringing both water and energy into public ownership. This would bring an end to nearly 40 years of privatisation which has seen people shut out of decision-making and paying through the nose for sub-standard services. Not only this, but Labour’s plans to put citizens, workers and communities at the heart of our public services will be totally transformative. This would deliver public services fit for the 21st century — more accountable, democratic and innovative than ever before”
Cat Hobbs, director, We Own It

On Justice Labour will:

• Bring PFI prisons back in-house, commit to no new private prisons and restore prison officer numbers to 2010 levels

“It’s necessary for safety in our prisons to get back to pre-election staffing levels. Prisons should be in the public sector and an end brought to PFI prisons, which have been costly to the taxpayer. The prison service has been a less safe place since 2010 due to austerity and cuts to a vital service”
Steve Gillan, Prison Officers Association general secretary

• Recruit hundreds of community lawyers and restore early legal aid advice including for housing, social security, family and immigration

“This will go some way to address the devastation that the Tory-Lib Dem coalition’s legal aid cuts caused in 2013. Even more exciting is extending legal aid to inquests into deaths in state custody — the ‘Hillsborough law’ — and creating a golden age of law centres”
Liz Davies, housing rights lawyer and vice-president, Haldane Society (personal capacity)

On transport and communities Labour will:

• Bring Royal Mail back into public ownership and establish a post bank to offer local loans to co-ops and small businesses

“Labour’s pledge to turn the Post Office into a post bank is a huge win for us all. It will end post office closures, rejuvenate the high street, grow the local business economy and help rebuild our communities”
Dave Ward, Communications Workers Union general secretary

• Give councils the power and resources to take over local bus services and reopen 3,000 scrapped bus routes

• Renationalise the railways using franchise expiry to take back control

• Build over a million social homes over a decade and change the definition of affordable housing from 80 per cent of market rates to a measure linked to local incomes

“Labour’s housing manifesto is transformational. The commitment to build 100,000 council homes a year, end right to buy, scrap the bedroom tax and phoney definitions of ‘affordable’ housing could make a huge difference to working-class communities up and down the country”
Glyn Robbins, housing campaigner and writer

• Free broadband!

• Provide an extra £5.6 billion for flood defences

“This is fantastic news for all the residents of Doncaster who have suffered this year and in 2007 from devastating flood damage. Real practical help from Labour compared to empty words and photo opportunities from other parties”
Tosh McDonald, former Aslef president and Doncaster councillor

• Stop bank branch closures and ban ATM charges to help redress the decline of the high street

“Labour is the only party that will truly get to grips with the crisis on our high streets. They are committed to adopting a much-needed industrial strategy for retail and Usdaw has one that is ‘oven ready.’ While it commands a great deal of support from retail experts and employers, Usdaw’s detailed strategy has largely been ignored by the Tory government. Labour has listened to Usdaw’s Save our Shops campaign and will deliver”
Paddy Lillis, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers general secretary

Equalities

• Scrap the 2014 Immigration Act and end the hostile environment that led to Windrush

• End indefinite detention and close Yarl’s Wood and Brook House detention centres

“The way in which people of the Windrush generation have been treated is horrific, and it’s not just their generation but their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who have been detained, deported. These communities have no trust in government. We’ve had horrendous policy that has torn families apart and seen people told they can ‘parent by Skype’. Those who do finally have their right to live in the UK recognised have often lost everything.
“People who were invited to this country to help rebuild it have been told, 30 or 40 years later, that they’re criminals. Repealing the Immigration Act that caused all this suffering is a major reason to vote Labour”
Zita Holbourne, co-founder of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts

• Introduce 10 days’ paid leave for survivors of domestic abuse and make misogyny a hate crime category

“Ten years of austerity from the Tory government have disproportionately impacted women and left them in vulnerable positions. It is important that not only are these abhorrent situations reversed but that we recognise that women desperately need the time and space to recover from abusive or controlling relationships without question or interrogation from their place of work. Misogyny is still deeply rooted in  society, and women are subject to it in their everyday lives”
Mollie Brown, National Assembly of Women

• Ensure sex-based exemptions in the Equality Act are fully understood and enforced

“Labour’s manifesto commitment to upholding and enforcing the single-sex exemptions and ending mixed-sex wards shows that the party is finally listening to women on this issue. The Labour Party now needs to work with grassroots activists, councils, government bodies, service providers and other organisations to make sure the law is properly enforced and women’s rights upheld”
Kiri Tunks, co-founder Woman’s Place UK

Employment, unemployment and workers’ rights

• Introduce a real living wage for all workers over the age of 16

• Require breaks during shifts to be paid

“A real living wage will be life-changing. Being under 18 or 25 doesn’t mean you pay less for your phone, utilities or food so why should your hourly rate be less even when doing the same job? Working over 40 hours a week and having to sofa-surf because your pay’s so low is wrong.
“Paid breaks would ensure that all workers take their breaks and don’t miss out because they are going to lose money, not taking breaks has a massive effect on the health and safety of the individual and the people around them”
Sarah Woolley, general secretary-elect of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union

• Roll out sectoral collective bargaining across the economy

“The commitment to rolling out compulsory sectoral collective bargaining has to be the most transformative aspect of the manifesto, not just for workers but for the economy. Imagine: almost every aspect of life at work to be the subject of negotiated minimums in each sector of the economy — not just a flat minimum hourly rate but rates for every grade and qualification, for overtime, night work etc; for pay progression; for measures to eradicate the ethnic and gender pay gap; for reduction of hours without loss of pay, for the introduction of new technology, and so on.
“Every worker having the security of knowing the minimum terms and conditions for their job and every employer knowing their competitors can’t undercut them with cheaper labour. Collective bargaining raises wages — good for workers and their families. It also means less inequality and more demand in the economy, which is a definite plus for employers. But it also means less workers having to be subsidised by government benefits, more people paying tax, more to spend on public services and infrastructure, more jobs to be had. It’s a win, win, win policy”
Lord John Hendy QC

• Allow trade unions to use secure electronic and workplace ballots

“The current balloting system for industrial action is cumbersome, complex and at times rigged against unions — as we’ve seen from the High Court’s injunction against the recent CWU vote for strike action despite it being backed by 97 per cent of workers on a 76 per cent turnout.
“Unions have advocated introducing a modern and secure electronic balloting system and also secure workplace balloting with an independent scrutineer — that would be far more democratic and improve membership involvement”
Tony Burke, chair of the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom

• Scrap universal credit

“For any civilised government to impose universal credit on its citizens, especially disabled people, women, children and pensioner couples all of whom have been left in destitution by this cruel system is nothing short of criminal. Those willing to inflict this misery on other human beings must be voted out”
Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts

On peace and internationalism Labour will:

• Establish a judge-led inquiry into Britain’s involvement in extraordinary rendition and torture 

• Halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Israel

“Britain is a major exporter of death and destruction in the form of arms. It sells to the repulsive Saudi regime, guilty of murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year, up to its neck in savage war in Yemen and one of the most repressive states in the world. Banning arms sales here would be a major step forward for peace and human rights.
“Banning arms sales to Israel, whose occupations and illegal settlements are bitterly resisted by the Palestinians, would not only send solidarity to them but would be a signal to the world.”
Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition convener

• And finally, one close to the hearts of the only daily co-operatively owned national newspaper in this country — Labour will take action to ensure Ofcom is better placed to safeguard plurality of media ownership and put in place clearer guidelines on who is a fit and proper person to own TV and radio outlets.

“In 1992 we ran Election Watch and the reporting then, the biased reporting by a block of Tory newspapers, was awful. But those newspapers in this election have been vile, mendacious, and in the scale of their savage representation of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party they have been absolutely appalling.
“The key problem is what we do about it, and I think the possibility of reforming such newspapers so that they perform a genuine role of providing unbiased, accurate information to their readers will never happen while they are owned by three powerful, right-wing billionaire proprietors, Rupert Murdoch, the Barclay brothers and Lord Rothermere.
“It will require a confident government that believes in true plurality of the media and the encouragement of genuine sources of information. That means legislation”
Granville Williams, director of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (Northern)

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