09 June 2024

What to expect on the General Election campaign trail on Sunday

09 June 2024

Here is your guide to the main developments in the General Election campaign on Sunday:

– Labour talks tough on law and order

Labour has pledged to crack down on the antisocial use of off-road bikes and relieve pressure on overstretched prisons.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party is promising new powers for police to scrap noisy dirt and quad bikes within 48 hours instead of having to keep them impounded for two weeks.

The Labour leader and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper are expected to promote the plans on a visit on Sunday.

The party said the prison estate is “bursting at the seams” due to inaction by the Conservative Government, as it vowed to deliver 14,000 more prison places.

Classifying prisons as sites of national importance so ministers can take control of planning decisions would stop the “powder keg waiting to explode” behind bars, shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood said.

The Tories hit back that they are already “overseeing the largest expansion to the prison estate since the Victorian era”.

Labour’s manifesto this week will also comprise pledges to set up 80 new specialist rape courts across and England and Wales, introduce specialist rape units in every police force, and introduce laws to crack down on violence against shop staff, according to Sunday papers.

– Tax freeze set in stone

In a bid to kill off the Tories’ much-disputed claim that Labour would hike taxes by £2,000, Sir Keir will include a cast-iron pledge in his manifesto not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT for five years, The Sunday Times reported.

– Tory benefits overhaul

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride will tout a Tory plan to reform the benefits system on the Sunday morning broadcast round.

But the Cabinet minister will likely also face questions about his boss’ early return from D-Day commemorations as the fallout from Rishi Sunak’s decision rumbles on.

The row gives ammunition to Reform UK leader Nigel Farage and SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, who are also appearing on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg.

The Prime Minister is campaigning in Yorkshire without media, after facing accusations of “dodging” reporters’ questions on Saturday amid criticism over his D-Day snub.

On the Tories’ benefits plans, Mr Sunak said: “Work is a source of dignity, purpose and hope and I want everyone to be able to overcome whatever barriers they might face to living independent, fulfilling lives.”

Measures that have already been floated by the party include a £700 million investment in NHS mental health treatment, a pledge to reform the disability benefits system and a tightening of the criteria for work capability assessments.

Previously announced plans to pass on the responsibility for issuing sick notes from GPs to specialist work and health professionals are within the offer.

A Labour spokesperson said: “These reheated pledges, old policies and vague promises will not get Britain healthy or benefits under control.”

And the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the Tories’ claim that the measures would help to save some £12 billion a year by the end of the next parliament “looks difficult in the extreme” as they were previously announced and have therefore already been incorporated into the Budget forecasts.

– Attack on Labour’s net zero plans

Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has warned that Sir Keir’s pledge to convert Britain to clean power by 2030 will put energy security in jeopardy.

She told The Sunday Telegraph that if Labour were to achieve its aim to decarbonise the grid by 2030 “it would either be through enormous costs, or it would risk blackouts in this country”.

The Tory manifesto will include a pledge to reform the remit of the official climate watchdog so it is forced to take account of the cost to households and the effect on energy security when advising ministers on carbon targets, according to the newspaper.

– Lib Dems vow to end corridor care crisis

Sir Ed Davey’s party is pledging to tackle the scandal of people dying due to ambulance delays.

The Lib Dems’ manifesto pledge features an upfront capital investment of £280 million to expand urgent treatment centres and A&E wards, and an additional £400 million a year to add an extra 1,000 staffed beds in hospitals.

The King’s Fund said “it is a plan for incremental improvement, not rapid recovery” as the “amounts of money set out in this announcement are relatively modest and wouldn’t ‘fix’ the urgent and emergency care crisis in isolation”.

– Salt from Swinney

Scotland’s First Minister John Swinney is urging Labour to explain where £18 billion in cuts predicted by the IFS will come from.

In a letter to Sir Keir, the SNP leader describes Labour’s intentions as “planning to take the axe to public services as a result of being wedded to Tory fiscal rules and a growth-destroying Brexit”.

Shadow secretary of state for Scotland Ian Murray insisted “there will be no return to austerity under Labour”.

Ahead of campaigning in Edinburgh on Sunday, Mr Murray said the SNP’s General Election campaign is “built on empty rhetoric” and accused his opponents of “butchering” the country’s public services.

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