You may have missed it, says Robert Colvile in The Sunday Times, but Keir Starmer’s “moderate, mainstream” Labour Party has just committed to the “most ambitious nationalisation in half a century”. Specifically, the shadow health secretary Wes Streeting promised to turn GPs into salaried employees of the state. And he did so, incredibly, with no indication of how this £5bn-plus move would be funded. Meanwhile, Starmer is promising “one of the biggest expansions of the NHS workforce in history”, paid for with the £3bn his government will supposedly pocket by abolishing non-dom tax status. His “bullish” logic assumes a full 99.7% of this “highly mobile group” will meekly stay put while extra tax is whacked on their overseas earnings.
Then there’s Yvette Cooper’s pledge to hire 13,000 police officers for £360m. The shadow home secretary hasn’t revealed where that money will come from, either – and given the Tories are spending north of £1bn on hiring 20,000 extra officers, it’ll probably cost much more than she says. This is the “central tension” for the Labour Party: frontbenchers are “itching to spend”, but there’s simply no money. They’re stuck promising “Rolls-Royce services on a Skoda budget”. It could be immaterial: voters “conditioned by Johnsonian cakeism” may accept that you can simultaneously keep taxes low and splurge £28bn a year on a green industrial transformation. But Labour’s vagueness shows that the party is far from the “polished machine of the 1990s”.