The Labour leadership election is turning increasingly nasty.
Current leader Jeremy Corbyn’s camp are accusing challenger Owen Smith of stealing their policies and talking up the possibility of a split in the party.
Last week Mr Smith issued a manifesto of 20 “radical policy pledges to make Britain a fairer, more equal country”.
Mr Corbyn’s campaign team said several of the ideas had already been announced by Labour’s leadership in recent months.
What’s the truth of the matter?
What are Owen Smith’s policies?
1. A pledge to focus on equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.
2. Scrapping the DWP and replacing it with a Ministry for Labour and a Department for Social Security.
3. Introducing modern wages councils for hotel, shop and care workers to strengthen terms and conditions.
4. Banning zero hour contracts.
5. Ending the public sector pay freeze.
6. Extending the right to information and consultation to cover all workplaces with more than 50 employees.
7. Ensuring workers’ representation on remuneration committees.
8. Repealing the Trade Union Act.
9. Increase spending on health and social care by at least 4 per cent in real-terms in every year of the next parliament.
10. A commitment to bring NHS funding up to the European average within the first term of a Labour government.
11. Greater spending on schools and libraries.
12. Re-instating the 50p top rate of income tax.
13. Reversing cuts in corporation tax due to take place up until 2020.
14. Reversing cuts to inheritance tax announced in the Summer Budget.
15. Reversing cuts to capital gains tax announced in the March 2016 Budget.
16. Introducing a new wealth tax on the top 1% of earners to fund increased spending on our NHS.
17. A British New Deal unveiling £200bn of investment over five years.
18. A commitment to invest tens of billions in the North of England, and to bring forward High Speed 3.
19. A pledge to build 300,000 homes in every year of the next parliament – 1.5 million over five years.
20. A plan to end the scandal of fuel poverty by investing in efficient energy.
Have they been stolen from Jeremy Corbyn?
Some straight lifts
By our reckoning, at least eight of these 20 policies have already been endorsed by the current Labour leadership:
Jeremy Corbyn pledged to ban zero-hours contracts while running for the leadership in 2015 and has repeated the promise since then.
He also called for an above-inflation pay rise for public sector workers in last year’s campaign.
He has repeatedly said that a Labour government would repeal the Trade Union Act, which makes it harder for unions to launch industrial action.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said in March that he would also bring the top rate of tax back to 50p.
Mr Corbyn said the Conservatives should scrap the reductions in corporation tax and capital gains tax announced in the last Budget in order to safeguard Personal Independence Payments for the disabled.
He previously criticized George Osborne’s decision to raise the inheritance tax threshold announced in the 2015 Summer Budget, and called for the tax to be “graded” to target the richest homeowners.
Jeremy Corbyn has also called for an end to fuel poverty and a “renewable energy revolution”.
Mr McDonnell sought to make some political capital out of the plan for a new Ministry for Labour, saying he endorsed this idea when it was included in a manifesto published by a union-backed think-tank called the Institute of Employment Rights back in June.
It’s true that the the institute also called for a reinstated Ministry of Labour, although they didn’t say that this new department should replace the DWP.
Similar in spirit
Other ideas are clearly in step with Mr Corbyn’s thinking, although Mr Smith has laid out more detailed plans.
The Labour leader has generally called for the rich to pay more in taxes, and promised to increase public spending and infrastructure investment if elected.
But he has not offered concrete spending targets like Mr Smith’s 4 per cent extra for health and social care, or the pledge to match NHS funding to the European average within the first term of a Labour government.
Mr Corbyn’s Northern Future paper hints heavily at more investment in the north of England – without mentioning a number – and he has said funding for the northern high-speed rail link HS3 should be confirmed before London’s Crossrail project.
The Labour leader has also mentioned reintroducing wage councils – which were used to set minimum wages across whole industries for much of the last century – although the detail is unclear.
So what is new?
Owen Smith is calling for a 15 per cent tax on wealth for the richest 1 per cent of the population, saying Labour has been “too timid” on tax recently.
This, along with the targets on health spending and homebuilding, the strengthening of employees’ rights (points 6 and 7) and the £200bn “British New Deal” investment fund are all either new or go significantly beyond similar aspirations mentioned by Mr Corbyn.
What else does Owen Smith stand for?
As well as these 20 policies, Owen Smith has said he wants to rewrite Clause Four of Labour’s constitution – the party’s mission statement – “to put tackling inequality right at the heart of everything that we do”.
He has also said he would offer voters a second referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU after the terms have been negotiated.
Unlike Mr Corbyn, Owen Smith is against scrapping the Trident nuclear deterrent.