Labour promises law to cap credit card debts

During a "Free Speech on Israel" fringe event at the annual Labour Party Conference in Brighton on Monday, Labour activists called for the expulsion of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), while accusing Israel of "genocide" in Gaza.

PFI contracts see the government use private funding to pay for major one-off projects such as building hospitals, schools and transport networks.

Under PFI, a private sector consortium funds, builds and maintains a facility on behalf of a public agency, then receives payments over the term of the contract, typically lasting 25-30 years.

Led by veteran campaigner Jeremy Corbyn, Labour has closed an opinion poll gap of more than 20 points in the last six months to stand roughly level with the Conservatives. The party's plan to end austerity, nationalise industries and borrow to invest in public services captured the imagination of voters and reduced May to a minority government.

A 2015 parliamentary report said the government owed over 222 billion pounds of charges on PFI contracts spread across several decades. "I don't believe at this stage we can say how much it will cost upfront.I don't believe it will run to billions and billions of pounds".

Labour's John McDonnell vowed yesterday to introduce law that would help cut credit card debt after the Financial Conduct Authority found that "more than three million people are in persistent debt".

Mr McDonnell told Labour's annual conference in Brighton that it was a "scandal" that PFI deals will result in almost £200 billion being paid to private companies from the public sector during the next few decades.

Labour take it too far and would damage our economy, meaning fewer jobs, higher taxes and more debt. And it's why shadow culture secretary Tom Watson is today expected to say that bookmakers could be forced to pay a new levy to help treat problem gamblers if the party wins the next election.

He also promised to ramp up spending on infrastructure outside London.

And he offered an olive branch to the party's Blairite wing, praising the record of the New Labour administrations which are often the butt of abuse from Corbyn-backers.

And IFS director Paul Johnson told BBC2's Daily Politics: "This is not about just getting rid of austerity or moving back to where the last Labour government was".

"Huge changes are underway in our society and economy".

But, while having a realistic shot at government and a clearer political identity that has attracted the attention of business, Corbyn's Labour has not been met with universal enthusiasm in the siderooms and bars of Brighton's seafront hotels, where most of the informal lobbying takes place.

The CBI accused him of "misplaced nostalgia".

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn told McDonnell that "the world is watching" and warned worldwide investors could be put off by his plans.

  • Anthony Vega