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After years of campaigning, we welcome commitments in the Labour Party’s policy handbook to ‘enact the socioeconomic duty under section 1 of the Equality Act’, ‘Champion international law and universal human rights at home and abroad’ and a host of other draft policies, which, if enacted, could take great strides towards making our everyday rights a reality.

We believe that if the Labour Party truly wants to create a ‘bold, practical and winning manifesto’ they need to go even further, and commit to incorporating our economic, social and cultural rights in domestic law.

Positive developments

Details have been published of the Labour Party’s policy handbook which is expected to form a blueprint for the party’s manifesto for the UK’s next general election. 

We’ve been campaigning for many years for enactment of Section 1 of the Equality Act, the Socio-economic Duty.  So are really pleased to see this commitment included in the handbook.  As co-leaders of the 1forEquality campaign we believe the Duty is a powerful tool for addressing socio-economic inequality.  Although in force in Scotland and Wales, the Duty is not yet implemented in England.

Many other proposals are also set out in the handbook, which, if enacted, could take great strides in making our everyday rights a reality, such as:

  • A commitment to cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion – this could help to meet ensure ‘maximum available resources’ are there to ensure we can realise rights (article 2(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR))
  • Treating mental and physical health with parity of esteem – this would help to realise the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (article 12 ICESCR).
  • Providing fully funded breakfast clubs in every primary school – this would help to realise the right to adequate food (included in article 11 of ICESCR on the right to an adequate standard of living) and the right to education (articles 13 and 14 ICESCR).
  • Ensuring everyone has a decent, secure and affordable home regardless of tenure – this would be a key measure in ensuring the realisation of the right to adequate housing (included in article 11 of ICESCR on the right to an adequate standard of living).
  • Commitments to tackling poverty, transform the world of work, reform our social security system, and have a properly inclusive education system – all key to realising our everyday rights.

Time to go further

Each of these policies, if enacted would make our everyday rights real for people in in the UK.

However, the Labour Party has a proud history on human rights, and we urge it to go further, and commit to incorporating our economic, social and cultural rights in domestic law to ensure that we have a legislative floor beneath which standards cannot drop.    

This is a popular idea and one which the Labour Party has already been thinking about.  The recent Commission on the UK’s Future, chaired by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, proposed that the UK should return to the founding principles of the welfare state by enshrining some of our economic, social, and cultural rights.

We will continue to advocate for all UK political parties to make our economic, social and cultural rights a reality, to really demonstrate how the UK can champion international law and universal human rights at home and abroad.

Background image by Andrius Banelis