Labour leadership hustings
What are the top five new policies that you would implement today if you were the Prime Minister?
Ed Balls: 1. Put a stop to the deep cuts this year and next year, which are not only unfair but also economically dangerous. The economy is still fragile and, with worries about a slowdown in American and European, taking money out of the economy at this time by cutting public services, scaling back tax credits and freezing child benefit will mean lower growth, higher unemployment and a greater risk of us going back into recession.
2. Restore the cancelled school-building programme. Michael Gove's cuts are not only unfair on over 700 communities expecting a new school but will also cost many thousands of jobs in the private sector at this fragile time for our economy. We should carry on building new schools – it's good for jobs and the economy as well as the education of children for generations to come.
3. Invest to build 100,000 more affordable homes. This would not only tackle the real shortage of homes but create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the construction industry too and get the economy moving again. I would pay for this by using half of the £12 billion windfall to the public finances from a lower deficit than was forecast in the Budget. You can't cut your way to recovery with a programme of austerity; we have to build and grow our way out.
4. Introduce a new 'right to a job' and the responsibility and requirement to take it up. That means extending Labour's youth jobs guarantee to make sure there is a job or work placement for everyone who has been unemployed for more than 18 months. This will stop people being abandoned on the dole.
5. Replace tuition fees with a graduate tax. Taking on a debt through top-up fees discourages too many young people from families on modest incomes from applying for university.
Diane Abbott: I would bring our troops home from Afghanistan, scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system, bring the railways back into public ownership, double the levy on banks, and promote welfare policies to support mums and families.
Andy Burnham: I am the only candidate to put forward a comprehensive manifesto during this leadership contest, and those policies will form my leadership of the Party and my Premiership:
1. The creation of a National Care Service to provide care to older people, on NHS terms, funded by a 10 per cent care levy on all estates – a collective solution that gives peace of mind in later life to all older people, including the most vulnerable, and lets them fulfil their aspiration of protecting what they've worked for. I believe this can be, for Labour in the 21st century, what the NHS was for Labour in the last century.
2. We must redress Labour's policy imbalance on young people by devoting much more of our intellectual capacity on the career paths and life chances of the 50 per cent of young people who do not go to university.
3. I have advocated huge changes to the tax system. I would implement a Land Value Tax (LVT) that would replace three unfair and regressive taxes that exist today: Council Tax, Inheritance Tax and Stamp Duty. The LVT would be a fairer and more proportionate way to collect taxes and would see those who currently struggle to pay their council tax paying less under a new system.
4. Labour must end the modern culture of unpaid internships and the exploitation of young people's hopes and dreams in the workplace – and a level playing field to help those without well-connected parents.
5. I would allow councils to buy up the dilapidated terraces owned by absentee landlords who do not care about anything other than the housing benefit cheque that comes their way. Community trainees and apprentices would then bring those houses up to scratch and they would be available for affordable rents to local families, instilling community pride and cohesion and tackling anti-social behaviour at a single stroke.
David Miliband: First, education - which is the most direct way to change opportunity in this country. I want to create a world-class system where all children achieve their potential. I want an exciting curriculum where pupils spend more time learning and less time in exams. I want more young people with the ambition and determination to be able to go to university or do an apprenticeship.
Second, the economy – which is obviously the big issue at the moment. For me, jobs will be the issue of the next decade. I want a job guarantee for young people at risk of long term unemployment. We should double the bank levy so that we can keep the investment allowances that support manufacturing, in turn creating new jobs. Most importantly, we need to be getting the economy going not undermining growth, as the Tories have done with their budget. Choosing to take £40bn extra out of the economy is both economically damaging and socially divisive and already we are seeing warning signs that this is causing confidence to drop as house sales slow and house prices fall.
Third, breaking the cycle of crime.
Fourth, defend the NHS and support children and families.
Fifth, at a time when thousands of British servicemen and women are putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan, any Prime Minister must have that at the top of their agenda. I want the troops home as soon as possible, and for me that means finding a political, not just a military solution in Afghanistan.
Ed Miliband: Well I've got lots of ideas about the future, but here are five things I would do right away:
I'd cut taxes for businesses who pay a living wage of more than £7 per hour. People are often surprised to know that, as taxpayers, we are paying more than £6 billion each year in benefits and tax credits to subsidise low pay. If businesses took more responsibility for paying a living wage, we could make huge savings in our welfare bill and make sure that work always paid. So I'd offer a tax cut to businesses, encouraging them to becoming living wage employers.
I also want to change the culture in the workplace. We work the longest hours in Western Europe – this isn't good for family life and it puts many people off working as well, for example when they have young families. We did a lot of good things on this in government, like extending maternity leave as much as we did, but we have to keep going to make the workplace friendly to those with families and commitments outside of work, so I would extend the flexible working rights to everyone.
Third, I'd scrap tuition fees and go for a graduate tax to make sure our universities have proper long-term funding. Universities are really important to our future. They give young people the chance to get on, and they also help our economy grow. I want Labour to again be a party of aspiration. There are big cuts on the horizon for our Universities and there is going to be a choice: higher tuition fees and a market in higher education or a graduate tax. I fear higher fees would put more people off university and hit those families on middle income who don't get maintenance support but also don't have the wealth to just pay the fees off. A graduate tax would make sure that people contributed to the costs of their education based on what they went on to earn, so a banker would pay more than a nurse or a social worker. And it would mean young people don't start out in life with the kinds of debts that stop them buying a home or starting up a business.
Fourth, because I believe this society is too unequal I am for a high pay commission to curb excess at the top of the pay scale – not only in the public sector, but in the private sector.
Finally, I'd raise additional taxes on the banks, up to £5 billion more, through maintaining the bankers bonus tax and increasing the bank levy. I know the banks can afford this and I would use the revenue to protect those in the middle who didn't cause the financial crisis and are being asked to do too much to repay the deficit. So I'd use that £5 billion to protect public services and to protect important entitlements like the Winter Fuel Allowance and Child Benefit.