Home Society & Culture Social Market Foundation Criticises Labour’s Manifesto for Lack of Detail

Social Market Foundation Criticises Labour’s Manifesto for Lack of Detail

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The Social Market Foundation (SMF) has responded critically to Labour’s latest manifesto, highlighting both its ambitions and its shortcomings.

Overall manifesto

Theo Bertram, SMF director, referred to the manifesto as “The Ming vase manifesto: change but with caution; great determination, little detail”. He noted that while the manifesto contains numerous policies previously announced by Labour, it lacks the depth and boldness of earlier manifestos. “It’s not fair to say it is without ambition or new ideas but it is light on detail. If the polls are right, Labour will enter Downing Street on 5th July with a huge majority in favour of a clear mandate for change that is significantly undefined,” Bertram commented.

Bertram’s assessment gave the manifesto the following scores:

  • Ambition: 6/10 – Recognising the pre-announced commitments like GB Energy and rail nationalisation as bold, Bertram noted the absence of a strong public sector reform commitment.
  • Originality: 3/10 – Highlighting a few new commitments, such as votes at 16 and the national wealth fund, Bertram remarked that the manifesto does not stand out for its distinctiveness.
  • Affordability: 8/10 – Bertram pointed out the balanced but modest revenue-raising plans and the potential for wealth taxes and council tax revaluation.
  • Detail: 2/10 – Bertram criticised the lack of clarity on Labour’s plans, despite the lengthy document.
  • Workability: 7/10 – The manifesto’s political premise on growth is seen as plausible but challenging, particularly with potential tax rises on wealth and the private sector.

Economic plans

Dr Aveek Bhattacharya, SMF research director, noted the predictability in Labour’s economic strategy. He emphasised Labour’s focus on stability, business partnerships, and investment, viewing the New Deal for Working People as an economic policy aimed at boosting productivity. “It is good to see the inclusion of a plan to reform the British Business Bank and encourage it to focus more effort outside London and the South East,” he added.

Tax proposals

Sam Robinson, senior researcher at SMF, found Labour’s tax proposals cautious and unremarkable. He mentioned sensible plans for closing Capital Gains Tax loopholes and ending non-dom status but noted the overall modest scale of revenue-raising plans. The proposal to replace Business Rates stood out, though its details remain unclear.

Support for mutual and co-operative businesses

Jake Shepherd, senior researcher at SMF, welcomed Labour’s commitment to diverse business ownership, particularly the pledge to double the size of the co-operative and mutual sector. But he pointed out the lack of clarity on how this goal will be achieved.

Housebuilding and planning reform

Gideon Salutin, senior researcher at SMF, criticised the manifesto for its vague planning reform promises. He acknowledged the welcome policies and funding for planning officers and fast-tracking brownfield site approvals but stressed the need for more specifics.

Rental market and affordable housing

Jamie Gollings, deputy research director at SMF, noted Labour’s intent to ban no-fault evictions and address ground rents and service charges. However, he found the plans for cheaper rental housing lacking in specifics.


Jonathan Thomas, senior fellow at SMF, discussed Labour’s plan to reduce net migration by training and upskilling local workers and improving working conditions. He stressed the importance of a balanced and practicable approach for businesses.

Fraud and policing

Richard Hyde, senior researcher at SMF, welcomed Labour’s recognition of the fraud problem but criticised the lack of specific plans. He highlighted the need for more targeted investments in economic crime enforcement.

Opportunities and skills

Dani Payne, senior researcher at SMF, described Labour’s skills and training pledges as ambitious but lacking detail. She noted the absence of significant new initiatives and suggested integrating further and higher education funding.

Warmer homes

Niamh O’Regan, SMF researcher, acknowledged Labour’s additional commitment to home insulation but criticised the lack of specific targets and mechanisms.

Electric vehicles

Gideon Salutin, senior researcher at SMF, praised Labour’s decision to reinstate the 2030 phase-out of new petrol and diesel cars. He called for more measures to ensure EV accessibility for low-income households.

Child poverty

Jamie Gollings, Deputy Research Director at SMF, expressed disappointment over Labour’s decision to continue the two-child benefit cap despite acknowledging rising child poverty.

Curriculum and assessment reform

John Asthana Gibson, SMF Researcher, encouraged Labour to be bold in addressing curriculum and assessment issues, particularly at the GCSE level, to reduce rote learning pressures.

Public health

Dr Aveek Bhattacharya welcomed Labour’s focus on prevention and public health initiatives but noted the absence of policies on alcohol and local authority public health funding.


Dr James Noyes, senior fellow at SMF, was pleased with the mention of gambling reform but urged Labour to be bold in implementing strong regulations to reduce gambling harm.

The SMF’s detailed analysis underscores the manifesto’s ambitions while calling for greater clarity and specifics across various policy areas.

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