Members of the national executive committee (NEC), shadow cabinet and trade unions met to agree the 2019 general election manifesto on Saturday. Phones and electronic devices were handed in and numbered copies of the manifesto were handed out. Attendees had two hours to read the draft manifesto. Then people went through each section, with the relevant shadow cabinet member answering questions and responding to comments and suggestions.
Generally, suggestions were agreed and incorporated into the final draft. If there were areas of disagreement, the relevant parties would get together to reach consensus. The process worked very smoothly and, at six hours, it was pretty speedy for an NEC meeting. Each different section of the NEC put forward constructive and useful suggestions and amendments. It was good to see these many of these suggestions make it into the final draft.
Jeremy Corbyn opened the meeting with his leader’s report. He congratulated Tim Roache on being re-elected as general secretary of the GMB. He joked that it might be all Arsenal are winning this season (sadly, probably true). Jeremy thanked staff for all their hand work on the general election so far, and thanked Andrew Fisher and everyone in the policy team for their work on the manifesto.
Jeremy also thanked members and activists for the epic campaigning activity around the country. By day 19, Jeremy had visited 27 constituencies, knocking on doors, giving interviews and holding rallies. He noted the enthusiasm of members to put forward an agenda and manifesto that will change people’s lives. Jeremy talked about the importance of bringing together people who have voted Leave and Remain. This election is about far more than just Brexit – it is about the future of the UK and the kind of country and society we want to be. Jeremy talked about how people deserve far better than the status quo, and that real change is possible.
John McDonnell spoke about the finances for the manifesto and how everything is fully costed and deliverable. The spending commitments in the manifesto address the decade of chronic underinvestment in the NHS, housing, schools, councils and infrastructure. This investment will grow the economy and drastically improve services and people’s quality of life. In some areas, the Tory cuts have ended up costing far more.
The meeting unanimously agreed the manifesto. I am proud to have played a small part in drafting this one, as well as our manifestos in 2015 and 2017. All three have contained inspiring policies that would radically improve life in the UK. This manifesto is ambitious, inspiring and positive. We have the policies – now we need to win the general election so they can become a reality.