Labour manifesto: What the papers say

By Richard Chidwick

Gordon Brown’s delivery of the 2010 Labour manifesto in Birmingham yesterday has come in for criticism and praise in equal measure from the broadsheets today.

Editorial responses have predominantly focused on Brown’s reversion to Blairite policies, public spending and the economy.

The Times has accused the manifesto of lacking clarity and being out of touch, but praises Labour’s private sector initiatives.

It said: “The party has in large parts of this manifesto, repackaged and reheated a host of old policies and badged them as Blairite.”

“The most interesting and encouraging parts of Labour’s plans are its proposals to use the private sector and individual choice as sticks with which to beat public services into shape.”

The Financial Times has also accused Brown of being Blairite and ‘ducking’ an opportunity to provide clarity on his spending plans, but praises him on delivery.

Its editorial said: “The manifesto continues to drive forward the Blairite agenda of public service reform, although with less reliance on the private to deliver the improvements, and a focus instead on public ‘entitlements’ to certain levels of state provision.”

It added: “But Brown delivered a strong performance, cheered on by a partisan audience in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital who not only supported the prime minister but booed certain journalists for asking questions.”

The Daily Telegraph says the manifesto shows the emptiness of Labour by highlighting the need for drastic reform of public services after 13 years in power, when it has ‘lavished’ money on them.

It said: “Now the money is gone, Labour looks an empty husk, bereft of vision, energy and ideas.
“As a consequence this is a threadbare manifesto.”

Labour’s most reliable friend among broadsheets, the Guardian has applauded Brown for attempting to fix the market, reform parliament and the electoral system and it acknowledges the manifestos Blairite sentiment.

Its leader said: “In other fields, though, the party is facing the electorate with new things to say, after shrewdly deciding to structure its platform around the twin crises – of democracy and the markets – which have together shaped the Brown years.

“Taking democracy first, besides all the unavoidable stable cleansing, Labour’s reformers have seized the moment to make a sharper offer than they put forward in either 2001 or 2005.”