Yesterday, 16th May, Labour set out their first full policies to the public as we head towards a General Election later this year.
A slick event, with many similarities to New Labour, not least Keir Starmer’s lack of a tie and the rolled-up sleeves. After the muted response from their promise to renationalise the railways some weeks ago, Labour have burst out of the starting gates with six key pledges:

Economy – A commitment to tough spending rules in order to deliver economic stability, including keeping National Insurance which Keir Starmer branded an unfunded tax cut by the Conservatives.

Health – Cutting NHS waiting times by cracking down on tax avoidance and non-dom status, providing 40,000 new appointments per week to tackle NHS waiting lists.

Immigration – Setting up a new border security command to stop the gangs who are organising the small boat crossings of the English Channel.

Energy – Set up a government owned energy company, Great British Energy, aimed at generating clean energy and cutting bills, funded through a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

Crime – To tackle antisocial behaviour, new penalties for offenders and more neighbourhood police officers.

Education – Recruit 6,500 new teachers through removing the VAT exemption on private school fees and ending their business rate relief.

Of course, the devil is in the detail and whilst three of the pledges are similar to promises that the Conservatives have made, the question is: has Labour scaled back their ambition as they are so far ahead in the polls. Compared to the 5 pledges they made last year; it would appear that they have downgraded them with these new pledges. Gone are the specific promises to make the UK the fastest-growing major economy by the end of a first Labour term and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Instead, Keir Starmer has promised to deliver on these new pledges by the end of a second Labour term.

A key question that many commentators will be asking is whether any of this is enough to win back the Red Wall voters and some that Labour lost to Boris Johnson in the 2019 general election? Whilst current polling may indicate that Labour is far ahead and can be expected to secure a decent majority at the next General Election, what has been lacking since Labour overtook the Conservatives in the polls is any real policies for the public to understand what Labour is promising. Whilst it can be argued that the Conservatives are in government and so that is their own record for the public to judge them on, the Conservatives haven’t yet set out their own promises, so we may see a closing of the gap in the polls the closer we get to the election. Whenever that may be.

So, what does this mean for the built environment? Labour is still promising to build new homes across the country and the appearance of the Chief Executive of Thakeham, a housing developer in the south of England, it appears that Labour is betting on building to help drive up the economy and its recovery. Of course, what is lacking is any substance on how this will be achieved. Will planning laws be simplified or completely reformed to ensure that building is accelerated? Time will tell but I suspect the detail will not be announced until after the General Election.