Alex Massie

The Next Labour Manifesto

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Taking a cue from Vogue and other glossy mags, the New Statesman has decided to

liven things up

attract some publicity by inviting a celebrity to be "Guest Editor" for a forthcoming issue. Their choice? Alastair Campbell. Among his ideas? This:

As well as the articles I've already commissioned, one of the pages will be handed over to 'LabourListers' and others to finish the phrase: 'if I could get one sentence into Labour’s manifesto for the next election, it would say this...'

I want to do this because, for all that the Tories may be ahead in the polls, and taking that position for granted, I think the battle of policy ideas still has more energy on the left than the right, and I hope this page will reflect that.

I'll get the ball rolling with a couple of ideas, then the space below is yours for suggestions:

I would like to see compulsory voting for general and local elections. And I would like to see an end to charitable status for private schools. I have to assume that Mr Campbell actually has better ideas than this. He must do. Right? I mean, he couldn't possibly really want this brace of coercive, illiberal promises in the party's manifesto could he? Whatever the merits of compulsory voting* removing charitable status from non-profit making private schools would be a gift to the Tories. Trying to put private schools out of business - which is the intention of such a measure - and thus reduce options for parents at a time when the Tories want to increase the range of choices available to parents seems like a losing idea to me.

It's also illogical. After all, if you close private schools you increase the cost of state-sponsored education, costing all taxpayers extra. And if schools lose their charitable status, shouldn't universities also lose theirs? What's the difference? Universities may receive public-funding, but private schools subsidise the government.

*I'm unpersuaded by the case for compulsory voting. Are Belgium and Australia more "engaged" or "cohesive" societies because they insist upon this? That said, I might be more amenable to the notion if "None of the Above" was also listed on the ballot paper...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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