AS THE old saw has it, nobody reads party manifestos. Most voters have made up their minds, and undecideds choose on the basis of leadership, not election pledges. Yet manifestos matter, for two reasons. One is that they count in government, especially when, as now, there is no majority in the House of Lords (by convention, the Lords do not oppose manifesto commitments). The other is that manifestos are a guide to parties’ philosophy.
The first impression from this week’s Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative manifestos (the third emerged as we went to press) is of clear blue water. Labour is proposing big spending increases, financed mainly by sharp rises in taxes on companies and the rich (defined as earning above £80,000, or $104,000, a year). The Tories are more frugal, though they are dumping their commitment not to raise income tax and national insurance contributions; they are also alone in not guaranteeing the “triple lock” for state pensions. The Lib Dems are in the…Continue reading