Howard League blog · 25 Nov 2019
General Election 2019: The Labour Manifesto
My third review of the party manifestos is a critique of Labour’s plans. Yet again we see scaremongering about rising violent crime, which, as I said about the Lib Dem manifesto, is a perennial problem, and I am disappointed that a comprehensive plan to address violence is missing.
One thing I do welcome is the proposal for a Royal Commission on substance misuse; we need to take a step back from a hundred years of criminalising drugs and this is a sensible way forward.
A presumption against short prison sentences is welcome, and I am pleased that Labour, which was considering making it only against sentences of up to three months, has moved to six months. But it is not enough; courts will find an excuse to use prison unless there is a ban. The evidence was published by the Ministry of Justice: short prison sentences trigger more crime and more victims so, by continuing to use them, courts and politicians are the guilty ones.
This is a mixed bag, not as radical as much of the other policies in the manifesto
It is good to see a commitment to invest in women’s centres and they are a Labour success story. I am sorry that Labour is holding on to the failed model of police and crime commissioners, as I know there is deep unease in the party about them.
There are some welcome commitments on increasing legal aid and a recognition that it is a fundamental right. And, of course, reunification of a public probation service, although the paragraph on this includes a worrying phrase about being ‘locally accountable’ and I would strongly oppose giving control to police and crime commissioners. Party politics in policing has been very damaging and introducing party politics into community supervision would be a disaster.
So a mixed bag. Not as radical as much of the other policies in the manifesto, so perhaps disappointing for that reason. It is time to be radical with justice, this isn’t.