The Conservative Manifesto 2019 sounds daunting at 64 pages long cover to cover, but that is just over half the thickness of Labour’s, and the contrast is massive. Labour give us pages of close text on every subject under the sun that their activists get angry about, but the Conservative and Unionist Manifesto 2019 eschews essays and much of the 64 pages is taken up with feel-good photographs.
The differences make an impact. Labour is anger-blame-command, while the Conservatives have aspiration. The most telling word in the title is not “Brexit” but “unleash”. It is a wonderful word that taps into the British spirit and well chosen. It is also a very Boris word.
In fact Boris suffuses throughout the document, not just because his picture appears at least eight times and his name too, but in the approach and the energy. It must be remembered that the 2017 Manifesto, though reviled now, was praised when it came out as a short, solid, no-frills statement. In fact the short detail it had was enough to give a grip for Labour to leap in with some damning attacks – remember the “dementia tax”? The 2017 Manifesto was a Theresa May document: curt, efficient, workmanlike. This 2019 manifesto is Boris all over.
The content of the manifesto seems less important than its impact. It does, like every other, spend a lot of its time saying how a Conservative government will spend my hard-earned money on things I will never have use of. (So far so Georgian.) It says income tax will never rise and it hints at eventual reductions in tax, but no more. There is no mention of inheritance tax: the Brexit Party have sworn they would abolish it, so come on Sajid; do the same.
Really it is the aspiration that makes this look a winner. Labour want to clamp down, regulate and seize into government control, while the Conservatives talk of opportunity (the word appearing 14 times). (“Aspiration” appears twice, once in “we understand the concept of aspiration, and enterprise” and once in “John McDonnell’s inexorable hostility towards aspiration and entrepreneurship”!)
The reception has sounded positive, and nothing has yet caused a killing sound-bite like the “dementia tax” one.
There should be no slackening nor inattention: at the time of the manifesto launches in 2017, polls were showing Theresa May with a higher rating than Boris has now and on course for a higher majority than the polls suggest now, but from that point it all went wrong and the poll ratings plunged. There is still all to play for.
Though all could still go horridly wrong, and the country be facing bankruptcy under Mr McDonnell, but the soundings so far are all positive.
- Honest, Georgian elections
- Fallen riders – Auntie’s list
- Accidental spies, useful idiots
- 101 Uses for a Dumped MP
- Westminster in the exit endgame
- By Boris Johnson:
- The Borisaurus: The Dictionary of Boris Johnson by Simon Walter
- Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath
- The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray
- Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay (1841)
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by Jordan B Peterson
- All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman
- Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union by Harold D. Clarke, Matthew Goodwin and Paul Whiteley
- Brexit: How the Nobodies Beat the Somebodies by Sebastian J. Handley
- By David Cameron: