Does Labour’s manifesto add up? Here’s a ConHome series to investigate – named, of course, in homage to the Shadow Home Secretary’s policing plan.
The Policy: Properly fund the security services after ‘May’s cuts’
This is the policy area that inspired this series. Contra Diane Abbott, these officers won’t be expected to subsist on £30 per annum. Instead Funding Britain’s Future sets aside £0.3 billion, or £300 million, for the purpose. Nothing about that jumps out as being terribly unreasonable.
But that’s the beginning and end of the costed and detailed policing commitments in Labour’s manifesto. So with Jeremy Corbyn talking tough and trying to pin some of the blame for recent terror attacks on cuts made whilst Theresa May was Home Secretary, it behoves us to point out that…
The Problem: No specific security spending is identified, let alone costed, in Labour’s manifesto
In the aftermath of Saturday’s attacks in London, the Labour leader has gone on the attack against Theresa May over the cuts to police number she oversaw as Home Secretary, saying you can’t protect Britain “on the cheap”. Indeed, he has today called for her resignation.
Given all this you might expect, if you momentarily forgot who led it, that the Labour manifesto would have a clear blueprint for redressing the apparent under-resourcing of our counter-terrorism forces.
But according to Funding Britain’s Future, the only bit of clearly identified police spending is those above-mentioned 10,000 new officers. But they are explicitly described as being “to work on community beats”. Now ‘bobbies on the beat’ is always a crowd pleaser but it does not equate to investment in intelligence, armed police, or any other means of expanding our counter-terrorism capacity.
(The reason for this is that, as Lord Carlile has said today, our counter-terrorist police are not under-resourced. Corbyn is trying to misrepresent cuts in other areas of the policing budget as somehow connected to Saturday’s attack.)
Labour do say that they “will always provide our security agencies with the resources and the powers they need to protect our country and keep us all safe.” But it’s just a sentence: there’s no description of which areas they plan to spend in and no mention of the figures in their supposedly-balanced spending plan.
Indeed, the lack of detail is more damning given that the party has put out an entire document detailing what they intend to spend on the things they really care about.
Indeed, the manifesto provides a deal more detail on how they’re going to rein in the security services: Labour will “reintroduce effective judicial oversight”, “review the Prevent programme with a view to assessing both its effectiveness and its potential to alienate minority communities.”
You might support any or all of those policies, but the balance of emphasis and detail suggests a manifesto drawn up with the hard left’s traditional scepticism towards the security services.