Labour right-winger Bridget Phillipson, installed by Keir Starmer as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, denounced the 2017 Labour manifesto as “all must have prizes” and “vote Labour and get not the microwave, but the whole kitchen”. Not the 2019 manifesto, even, but the 2017 one.
In a leaked letter to her front-bench colleagues, Phillipson has now argued that there is a problem about “policy costings” not looking credible to the public and in the media. She calls for an “achievable road map” — suggesting the policies in Labour’s last manifesto (let alone the more radical policies demanded by Labour conference) are not achievable.
Meanwhile Starmer has given an interview to the Financial Times in which he describes the 2019 manifesto as “overloaded”.
Phillipson says that policy ideas requiring spending or tax rises must be agreed with the Shadow Treasury team and the Leader’s Office. On one level, that seems reasonable. But any idea that members should decide party policy, already tenuous, is rapidly disappearing from sight.
We must fight back, to insist that party conference is sovereign and that the (generally left-wing) policies it agrees should be carried out. Starmer should be reminded of the commitment to left policies he made in the leadership campaign and called to account.