The key message from Ed Miliband to working people is set out in his foreword, “The fundamental truth that runs through this manifesto is that Britain will only succeed when working people succeed. It is an idea at the heart of my beliefs. And it drives our better plan for a better future. It means a country where hard work is rewarded, with high skill, high wage jobs.”
Commitments that really matter to working people include:
· Increase the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 an hour by October 2019 and introduce Make Work Pay contracts to provide tax rebates to firms becoming Living Wage employers.
· Ban exploitative zero-hours contracts and close agency worker loopholes.
· Abolish Employment Tribunal fees.
· Guarantee an apprenticeship for every school leaver who attains the grades and require any firm that gets a large government contract to offer apprenticeships.
· Employees have a voice when executive pay is set by requiring employee representation on remuneration committees.
· Double paternity leave from two to four weeks and increase paternity pay by more than £100 a week.
· Requiring large companies to publish their gender pay gap and strengthening the law against maternity discrimination.
· Tackling tax avoidance including abolishing non-dom status so that all those who make the UK their home pay tax in the same way as the rest of us.
Specifically for Scotland, there is a commitment to implement the Smith Agreement in full. And go further, with a Home Rule Bill to give extra powers to Scotland over tax, welfare and jobs. Rates of income tax will be set in Scotland. Billions of pounds of social security spending will be devolved, including benefits that support disabled people. The Work Programme will also be devolved along with a greater ability to invest in capital projects.
The new devolution settlement will recognise the strength and security offered by being part of the United Kingdom. The Barnett formula will be retained saving Scotland from Tory austerity all over again through the SNP’s Full Fiscal Autonomy. Scotland will continue to benefit from pooling and sharing resources across the UK.
In this election, the country has a choice. We can continue with a Conservative plan based on the view that success comes only from a privileged few at the top. Or we can change direction, begin to return power to people and build an economy together in which everyone can contribute to a shared and enduring prosperity.