Transform to Win

A manifesto from Clive Lewis

Download the manifesto as a PDF


After the defeat of the 2019 election, it is essential that Labour maps out a new plan not only for the party, but for the country. The danger of a racist and authoritarian backlash under this Conservative government is very real; so, too, is the risk of continued austerity. We will continue to fight, as part of a global movement, against the greatest threat of our age – that of climate change. But beyond the necessity of opposing Boris Johnson’s government, and working with others to do so, we must lay out a clear and credible route back to government, since it is only in government that we can transform our country. The 2019 Manifesto presented an alternative vision of our country; we seek in the following to sharpen and simplify that picture, so that it can presented as a clear and necessary case for every part of Britain. These proposals are intended to provide a signpost for a possible future, not a complete prescription for government. They are raised to promote further discussion in our movement. All policy should be assessed for its impact on people with protected characteristics, including women.

Our route back to government begins with a recognition that the core question we face today is that of democracy. We must answer the demand for greater power and control in people’s lives not only by providing the material means by which people can live better – from higher pay to public services that work – but by transforming the institutions under which we all live, from Parliament to local authorities to how our businesses are run. And by working with others today, we can show how, in government, we can meet the demands of our people for a fundamental change in how our country is run and how their lives our governed.

By placing democracy at the centre of what we do, by changing our internal party cultures and procedures, by learning to work better with others beyond our own ranks, we can build the movement needed to defeat the Conservatives and form a genuinely transformational government. Confronted by the great challenges, from climate change to the emerging digital world, we must demonstrate that we have a powerful and effective case for meeting them and building a fairer, more sustainable, and more equal country.

Clive Lewis MP

1. Real democracy in our country

Our political system is broken and our democratic institutions are not fit for purpose.

• We must introduce proportional representation. Our current electoral system is failing all of us. A majority of British voters in the last two elections voted for parties of the left and centre-left, but this is not reflected in the results. In government, we should commit to the introduction of genuinely proportional representation.

• We must abolish the House of Lords. We will only support replacements that are genuinely democratic and elected on a proportional basis.

• We must put power back in the hands of local councils. Local councils have been stripped of their authority, whilst a decade of austerity has seen their budgets fall by 60%. We must transfer powers back to councils and local governments, removing the Westminster diktat, granting them new revenue-raising and spending powers, and expanding their procurement and planning powers. We will also look at ways to make Councils more accountable and democratic as institutions.

• We will establish a Constitutional Convention to create a written constitution. Learning from examples like Iceland, we will create an open, democratic national Constitutional Convention, free from Westminster influence and with the maximum public participation, to draw up a new, written constitution for the United Kingdom.

• We must recognise the separate demands and democracies of Wales and Scotland. We will not oppose a second referendum on independence in Scotland, if the Scottish people want one, but we will argue for the maximum possible devolution of powers inside the United Kingdom to its constituent nations.

• We will create a new democracy in England. The Westminster system has also failed England, leaving local councils without powers, and an undemocratic Parliament in Westminster, whilst Scotland and Wales enjoy devolved governments. We will create new democratic Assemblies for the English regions, with real powers and budgets.

• We will extend the franchise in national and local elections to all UK residents aged 16 or above. If you live here, you should have the right to vote, regardless of which passport you hold.

• We will establish a national mechanism to bring women and girls’ voices into government. Since the Women’s National Commission (WNC) was abolished, there has been no public body to represent women’s voices to government.

Our media favours the interests of the super-rich and their hangers-on.

• We must retain all of our 2019 commitments to implement Leveson, and democratise the BBC. Public trust in the BBC as a public service broadcaster has taken a hammering, perhaps especially during last year’s election. To end the capture of the BBC by elite interests, we will devolve programme-making and editorial functions to the nations and regions, and establish a system of localised, democratic management and commissioning established, with licence-payers and BBC staff electing regional boards.

• In return for radical democratic reform of the BBC, it must be freed from the persistent fear of political interference. We propose 20-year charter renewal along democratisation of the BBC Board, and placing the BBC itself on a permanent, statutory footing. The new British Digital Corporation should operate on the same basis.

• We will support a far broader media ecosystem. We will entrust the National Investment Bank and regional development banks with support the development of new and independent media at a national and local level.

• We will explore as a matter of urgency the creation of new publicly-owned platforms enabling content-producers to distribute and sell music, film and other output without having to surrender the bulk of their revenue to global corporations. The problem of how to support professional artists in all fields, in an era of free digital content, is an acute and urgent one.

2. Real democracy in our party

We need to change our party’s internal culture, putting aside our tribal differences.

• The challenges we face, from the climate emergency to the threat of war in the Middle East, are bigger than what we as a party alone can tackle. We must actively seek to work and engage with all those, whether in another party or organisation or none, who want to help us change the world we live in.

• We will only become a social movement party when we are open to others. We must change an internal party culture that is too often impenetrable and uninviting to new members and non‑members. We should provide support and resources for branches and CLPs seeking to broaden the Labour Party’s activities, including political education, cultural events, and the provision of relief measures to deal with austerity.

• We must practice what we preach internally on income inequality. We should impose a pay ratio between best and worst paid Labour Party staff of no more than 5 to 1.

• We must as a party look to help build and support a new media ecosystem. We should look to build working relationships with new media and support party members establishing new outlets, particularly on a regional and local level.

• We will hold deliberative convention in our Party to formulate and agree on a package of democratic constitutional reforms for Labour. We should look at reforming and democratising the National Executive Committee, including greater transparency, broadening the procedure for election of a leader, and creating a more functional, democratic policy process with a sovereign conference at its heart.

• Our representatives must be accountable to the movement that put them in office. This means introducing Open Selections for all candidates at every level of the party, and giving members more say over the leadership of Labour local councils.

• We will open up a “Democracy Review 2.0” starting with the question ‘How do we put more power in party members’ hands?’
• We will set up an independent complaints function to deal with cases of racism, antisemitism, sexual harassment, discrimination against protected characteristics, and bullying.

We must strive to lead a decentralised social movement, distributing resources and autonomy to our regions, whilst also building alliances outside of the Labour party on key issues.

• Our alliance with the trade unions must be broadened and strengthened on the ground. Labour and the unions must work together on a radical programme of organising in our communities and in the workplace. Only one-third of party members are individual members of a trade union – every party member will be encouraged to join.

• We should allow Scottish and Welsh Labour Parties full autonomy to decide on questions such as independence. They must become the Labour Parties of Scotland and Wales, not Scottish or Welsh branches of a largely English Labour Party.

• We should allow Constituency Labour Parties the option to decide if they will stand down in favour of better-placed candidates with the same values. We must be open to creating alliances of progressive and socialist organisations on a local level, particularly given the undemocratic electoral system we face.

• We will invest in community organising, ensuring every council candidate and councillor receives community organising training. We will create a formidable Labour presence in our communities, affecting real change in local areas, underpinned by a community organising strategy for each CLP.

• We should be seeking to help to mobilise national demonstrations against spending cuts, privatisation and restrictions on union rights, as well as supporting movements against foreign wars.

3. A Green New Deal to tackle the climate and environmental emergency

We must regenerate our country whilst tackling the biggest crisis of our time. We will do this by becoming world leaders in emerging green technology, creating new manufacturing jobs, investing in regional infrastructure and introducing local participatory democracy initiatives.

• A commitment to Net Zero with the substantial majority of emissions removed by 2030 is non-negotiable and fundamental to the Green New Deal. In seeking for a new role in the world after Brexit, Britain must establish itself as a global leader in the fight against climate change.

• Action is needed now, not only after the next election. We as a party must support the social movements fighting the climate crisis, from those protesting to local communities already moving to decarbonise their energy systems and wider economy. We must think and act more like a social movement.

• We will oppose future airport expansion, including the third runway at Heathrow. Continued expansion of airport capacity is totally incompatible with our commitments to the environment. Labour will not support expanded airport capacity but will demand investment in lower-carbon alternatives.

• We will support a Frequent Flyers Levy. 70% of the total number of flights are taken by only 15% of the population, overwhelmingly amongst the wealthiest, while more than half the population did not fly in the last year for which figures are available. We will reform Air Passenger Duty to make the cost better reflect the damage done, increasing duties for multiple flights in a year to reduce the number of flights taken, whilst cutting costs for those taking just one flight a year such as family holidays.

• We must think globally, and act locally. We need clear, local level plans to make the job benefits of a net zero future clear to all our communities – especially those places most hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs in the last four decades. Labour should give the powers needed to local authorities to allow them to intervene and implement local decarbonisation plans, including support for publicly owned generation and smart grids.

• The climate crisis is not the only threat to our planet. We must move the UK towards a zero-waste circular economy and build in policy to make this happen. Labour in government will provide investment incentives needed to help create 500,000 jobs through the circular economy by 2030. Employment in recycling, repair and remanufacturing would require a range of skills, particularly focused in places left without serious investment for decades.

• We must improve the planning system to support green spaces. We will introduce a minimum standard for green spaces in all our towns and cities, and introduce a duty on local planning authorities to ensure that every household within the local authority area has access to natural green space. We will introduce a requirement for 20% biodiversity net gain as part of new developments whilst trialling an ‘environment net gain’ approach across a series of pilot areas.

• We must support robust action on air pollution. We will impose targets for electric vehicle introduction, provide incentives for electric vehicle pooling and investment in infrastructure, and expand the range of powers available to local and regional authorities to impose controls on vehicle use in urban areas where needed.

• We will combat biodiversity loss, with measurable and deliverable targets for the restoration of nature, including legally binding 5 year interim targets, and a duty on the Secretary of State to list species threatened with extinction.

4. A modern economic framework that lifts all in our society

Our plan for economic renewal is based on our understanding of the failings of 40 years of neoliberalism for large parts of our country. But the challenges of the future cannot be met by a rerun of policies from the past. We must use twenty-first century technologies to give everyone more control over their working lives, and over the profits that they produce. 

• We must make our financial system the servant, not the master, of the wider economy. We will implement the proposals of the Finance and Climate Change report where they support climate change goals, and support the creation of locally- and regionally-based financial service institutions.

• We will open up the Bank of England for the public by supporting the introduction of a Central Bank Digital Currency. Following the example of the Swedish central bank, the Bank of England can provide secure, cheap and effective basic banking services through a digital currency, available for all citizens.

• We will take on Big Tech and enforce a fair taxation system. We will defend existing public datasets, like NHS data, from corporate raiders.

• We will create a register of Artificial Intelligence used in the public sector. A public register of AI use will provide oversight over the spread of AI.

• We will support data democracy outside of the EU. We will create a Charter of Digital Rights, oppose free access to UK-based data in future trade deals, and provide support for the establishment of “data trusts” to provide better public control over data.

• We will renew and repurpose our high streets with a Community Right to Buy and other measures. We will introduce fair taxes for local businesses by radically reforming the existing tax regime, and extend the existing community asset scheme to allow local councils and community groups to make better use of important local assets. High streets must become public spaces once again.

• We will reaffirm our commitment to the introduction of a four day working week, or three day weekend, as a ten‑year goal for the movement. We will, in government, seek to introduce measures to support moves in this direction, including sectoral collective bargaining. We will look to reform the tax and benefits system to remove penalties on those seeking reduced hours, whilst reinforcing rights and protections at work.

• We will set a lead in reducing working time, moving towards a four day week in the public sector at a pace consistent with maintaining and improving services. Expert estimates put the net cost for the public sector at £3.5bn, creating 500,000 new jobs and setting the pace for the private sector.

• We will support the introduction of Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Services pilot schemes

We will prioritise investment in essential public services such as schools and hospitals, promote decent work and affordable housing for all, bolster the trade union movement, and support the growth of small and medium-sized businesses whilst tackling the excessive power of tax-dodging corporations and monopolies.

• We must target unfair wealth by closing the tax havens and clamping down on avoidance. We must go further than the 2019 manifesto commitment, targeting the at least £10bn a year lost to tax havens from the UK.

• We will replace the regressive and unpopular Council Tax system with a progressive alternative based on contemporary property values. Following recommendations in Land for the Many, we will introduce fairer local taxation.

• We will follow the example of Scandinavian countries and make all tax returns over £1m a year publicly available. Transparency will cut down on avoidance and evasion, and encourage a more open civic culture.

• We will create a National Future Fund to help secure funding for NHS and pensions in perpetuity. This will be a sovereign wealth fund capitalised with initial injection from government, with future revenues from Digital Services Tax and licensing of public data.

• We will restore trade union rights after decades of Tory legal restrictions, repealing all of the anti-union laws and creating a charter of positive rights for trade unions to organise in workplaces.

5. Championing diversity, equality and progressive values

We will promote a vision of our country that is inclusive and tolerant, that celebrates our diversity and knows we are better for it.

• We should never again abandon our commitment to preserving rights to freedom of movement. We will fight to preserve the rights of British and EU citizens in any post-Brexit settlement.

• We will in government close the detention estate and launch a complete review of our asylum system.

• We will organise a Labour Party migrant forum, with a view to creating a new section of the party, to amplify migrant voices. We must not allow migrants again to become marginalised.

• We will in government put an end to the policy of ‘no recourse to public funds’. No one should be denied access to basic services because of their migration status.

• We will allow refugees to take up paid employment. Refugees and asylum-seekers are facing destitution due to the extremely low levels of financial support available to them.

• We will introduce a Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Bill that will fully ratify the Istanbul Convention and outline protection and support for all survivors of domestic and, sexual violence without discrimination on any grounds, including nation or migrant status.

• We will deliver a secure funding future for specialist domestic and sexual violence services that ensures no victim/survivor is turned away from the support they need.

We will champion the benefits of internationalism, put forward the economic and cultural case for migration, and build solidarity between all our diverse communities through greater social and economic equality.

• We will fight for any post-Brexit trade deals to preserve and improve existing protections for workers’ rights, safety, and environmental standards. We will oppose any attempts to establish a post-Brexit race to the bottom and give Parliament the right to scrutinise and stop trade deals, as befits a democracy.

• We will campaign to ensure that future trade deals contain free movement provisions. Goods, services and capital should never have more of a right to move than people.

• We will oppose the introduction of ISDS-style “corporate courts” in future trade deals as these grant excessive powers to corporations over governments. We will insist, where possible, on the resolution of disputes within national legal systems.

• We will continue to support the 0.7% GDP target for international development spending. We will seek to focus this spending not only on addressing poverty, but also inequality and climate change measures.

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