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1918 Labour Party General Election Manifesto

Labour's call to the people

The Labour Party has left the Coalition, and is appealing to the men and women of the country with a programme that is a challenge to reaction.

A peace of reconciliation

Victory has been achieved, and Labour claims no mean share in its achievement. Not only have the workers supplied the vast majority of our soldiers and sailors, and sustained the burden of war at home; the democratic diplomacy which found expression in the War Aims of Labour has been one of the most powerful factors in winning the war, and must be the most powerful factor in the rebuilding of the world. The Peace which Labour demands is a Peace of International Co-operation. It declares absolutely against secret diplomacy and any form of economic war, and demands, as an essential part of the Peace Treaty, an International Labour Charter incorporated in the very structure of the League of Free Peoples.

Hands off democracy!

Labour welcomes the extension of liberty and democracy in Europe. It has warned the Coalition that opposition towards the young democracies of the Continent, and especially that intervention on the side of European reaction, will be disastrous. Labour demands the immediate withdrawal of the Allied forces from Russia. In the interest of world-democracy it stands for the immediate restoration of the Workers International.

Freedom for Ireland

The principles which Labour acclaims as Allied war aims it will apply to our own subject peoples. Freedom for Ireland and India it claims as democratic rights, and it will extend to all subject peoples the right of self-determination within the British Commonwealth of Free Nations. Labour's appeal to the people is not a sectional appeal, unless an appeal which excludes only militarists, profiteers, and place-hunters be regarded as sectional. It includes all who are determined that the fruits of victory shall not be wasted in the interests of riches or reaction. Especially does Labour appeal to two sections of the community - to the soldiers and sailors who have fought the nation's battles abroad, and to the men and women workers at home.

No conscription

The returning soldier or sailor will find himself once more a worker. His cause is one with that of the workers at home. Civil and industrial liberties have been largely suspended during the war; and soldier and worker want their liberties back now. The Labour Party stands for the destruction of all war-time measures in restraint of civil or industrial liberty, the repeal of the Defence of the Realm Act, the complete abolition of Conscription, and the release of all political prisoners. It stands for free citizenship, a Free Parliament, for Free Speech, and against the domination of the Press by sinister political influences.

The land for the workers

The Labour Party means to introduce large schemes of land reorganisation, and it is fully aware that this can only be done in the teeth of the most powerful vested interests. land nationalisation is a vital necessity; the land is the people's and must be developed so as to afford a high standard of life to a growing rural population not be subsidies or tariffs, but by scientific methods, and the freeing of the soil from landlordism and reaction.

A million good houses

Labour demands a substantial and permanent improvement in the housing of the whole people. At least a million new houses must be built at once at the State's expense, and let at fair rents, and these houses must be fit for men and women to live in. Labour will press for a really comprehensive Public Health Act co-ordinating all health authorities, based on prevention rather than cure, and free from servile or inquisitorial features. It will also press for real public education, free and open to all, with maintenance scholarships without distinction of class, and for justice to the teachers, upon whom education finally depends.

A levy on capital

Labour will resist every attempt to place burdens upon the porr by indirect taxation. Labour is firm against tariffs and for Free Trade. The way to deal with unfair competition of imports made under sweated conditions is not by tariffs, but by international labour legislation, which will make sweating impossible. In paying the War Debt, Labour will place the burden on the broadest backs by a special tax capital. Those who have made fortunes out of the war must pay for the war; and Labour will insist upon heavily graduated direct taxation with a raising of the exemption limit. That is what Labour means by the Conscription of Wealth.

Industrial democracy

In industry, Labour demands the immediate nationalisation and democratic control of vital public services, such as mines, railways, shipping, armaments, and electric power; the fullest recognition and utmost extension of trade unionism, both in private employment and in the public services. It works for an altogether higher status for labour, which will mean also better pay and conditions. The national minimum is a first step, and with this must go the abolition of the menace of unemployment, the recognition of the universal right to work or maintenance, the legal limitation of hours of labour, and the drastic amendment of the Acts dealing with factory conditions, safety, and workmen's compensation.

The real Women's Party

Labour has always stood for equal rights for both sexes, when other parties were ignoring or persecuting women. In politics, the Labour Party stands for complete adult suffrage, in industry for equal pay and the organisation of men and women workers in one trade union movement. To the woman worker and to the wife of the working man or the soldier, Labour can make a confident appeal. Better pay and pensions for the workman or soldier mean better conditions for his wife and family. There must be no sex party: the Labour Party is the Women's Party. Woman is the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the home. Labour stands with the Co-operative Movement in its insistence on reasonable food prices and fair distribution, and in its resistance to unfair taxation. The Labour Party will do all it can to aid co-operators in their struggle for a democratic food organisation and against unfair discrimination. Labour and Co-operation are a single movement, and in the coming battle with reaction they must fight side by side.

Labour's programme is comprehensive and constructive. It is designed to build a new world, and to build it by constitutional means. It is a programme of national and international justice, founded on permanent democratic principles. Even in an election as sinister as this, in which a large part of the nation's youth is arbitrarily disfranchised by the Government, Labour confidently appeals to the country to support its programme of social justice and economic freedom.

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