There are widespread claims that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the British Labour Party has entailed a shift to a more ‘radical’ and ‘left-wing’ form of politics. Yet, many of these claims are untested or lack clear empirical evidence. This article seeks to contextualise Labour’s policy agenda, by focussing on the 2017 Labour Manifesto ‘For the Many, Not the Few’. Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, we challenge both the media portrayal of ‘For the Many, Not the Few’, and also the existing academic literature concerning Corbyn’s policy agenda. We offer the first detailed and systematic analysis of Labour’s policy agenda. The article uses the Manifesto Research on Political Representation (MARPOR) database to contextualise Labour’s 2017 manifesto and compare it with every Labour manifesto since 1945. The MARPOR data are then linked with a qualitative analysis of Corbyn’s policy agenda in the areas of economic policy, social policy and foreign affairs. The qualitative analysis focusses on comparing the 2017 manifesto with the 1983, 1997 and 2015 manifestos. Overall, the article argues that the wider claims about Corbyn’s radicalism tend to mask some long-standing continuity in the Labour tradition, and these claims tend to simplify understanding of a more complex policy agenda.
- Policy agenda
- Social democracy