The Britain that Labour built: blocks of new-build flats for sale in Sighthill, Edinburgh. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

When Labour launched its manifesto last week, it chose a brand new building as a backdrop. This was the Queen Elizabeth hospital, Birmingham, where the first phases of a new £545m super-hospital will open in June. The forecourt where the cabinet gathered to brandish their paperless manifesto memory sticks looked somewhat bleak, but never mind. We were invited to admire the scale of the investment behind the V-formation of grinning ministers.

Labour has been an enthusiastic builder. It has embarked on a huge hospital building programme and has promised “to rebuild or renew nearly every secondary school”. It has celebrated construction which flourished in the prolonged boom. In his first conference speech as prime minister, Brown promised 240,000 new homes a year, a target that has shrivelled in the merciless drought of recession.

It also, in its early days, proclaimed the importance of architecture and design, to an extent never before heard from a British government.


Rowan Moore