A Guide To The Main Political Parties Manifesto Policies
The Debrief: Political parties are vying for your attention and, more importantly, your vote on June 8th. But what are they actually offering?
Political parties are vying for your attention and, more importantly, your vote on June 8th. They all insist that they’re the ones for the job. Cutting through the noise of manifesto promises - which are designed to draw you in and win elections before they’re inevitably changed, twisted and somewhat undone - can be a daunting task. ‘Put your faith in us and it’s all going to be just fine’ they say, everything will be totally ‘Strong and Stable’ or, perhaps, you’re on more of a ‘Many Not The Few’ vibe we’re here for that too. Or maybe you’re being seduced by the idea that your vote could ‘Change Britain’s Future’. Alliteration abounds, half rhymes ruminate through the airwaves and dodgy slogans are two-a-penny but what does it all mean?
It’s thought that women are 2.5% less likely to vote than men which, according to the Fawcett Society who’ve run the maths based on turnout at the 2015 general election, equates to around 8 million missing women’s votes. Perhaps that’s because women don’t feel confident in their choice, perhaps it’s because they don’t see themselves reflected in politics because only 29% of MPs are women or, perhaps it’s because they don’t think anyone will listen even if they do turn out and put their pencil cross on their ballot paper.
However, knowledge is power and manifestos are the best indications of what a political party would do, were they to be elected. If you’re going to make an informed choice in this election you’re going to need some… um… information. So, whatever your political persuasion, here’s what you need to know about the key points from the three main political party manifestos in alphabetical order:
Conservative Party Manifesto
Slogan: ‘Strong and Stable’ did you catch that? It said ‘Strong and Stable’
They say: This programme of policies provide a ‘strong and stable leadership through Brexit and Beyond’. Theresa May’s foreword says a Conservative government will take on the ‘giant challenges’ facing Britain to ensure ‘our future prosperity, our place in the world, our standard of living, and the opportunities we want for our children - and our children's children’ which all depends on ‘getting the next five years right...’
- Brexit means Brexit. No more single market.
- Bringing in a law which means that anyone is entitled to take a year off work in order to look after loved ones in need of care on a full-time basis. However, this work is unpaid and those who take this up will, effectively, be taking a sabbatical. Professional care workers, and the Women’s Equality Party have criticised this policy and said that it undermines care work and is a lazy way to shift the responsibility onto individuals as opposed to paying those who already work in care (the majority of whom are women) properly.
- Increase in NHS spending reaching £8bn extra per year by 2022/23
- Build more homes by meeting the 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 and half a million more by the end of 2022
- Scrap the triple-lock on the state pension after 2020, replacing it with a ‘double lock’, rising with earnings or inflation. This will save the Government money but many are warning it will leave pensioners short.
- Means test winter fuel payments, taking away £300 from wealthier pensioners.
- Raising the cost of social care threshold from £23,000 to £100,000 - but include the value of home in the calculation of assets for home care as well as residential care. Note, the Prime Minister has now done a u-turn on this policy by saying there will be a cap on how much people have to pay but she’s refusing to acknowledge that it’s a u-turn.
- No more free school lunches in English schools, however free breakfasts across the primary years will be available.
- Put an extra £4bn into schools by 2022.
- Net migration cut to below 100,000 but, notably, not reduced to zero or replaced with an ‘Australian style points system’ that some more hardline eurosceptics would like to see.
We say: Theresa May is, in many ways, the antithesis of David Cameron and there’s very little Thatcherism to be seen here. She’s sticking to her ‘Brexit means Brexit’ catchphrase come hell or high water and on that, at least, to use a Thatcherism ‘the lady is not for turning’. However, she has already gone back on social care threshold which many are describing as a ‘u-turn’ after outcry at the injustice of the policy proposal. May, on the other hand, insists nothing has changed.
Theresa May, if she is elected, and her government face serious and monumental challenges. Not just with Brexit, but with a rapidly ageing population for whom the care budget is falling short while the younger generations struggle on with extortionate property prices and stagnant wages. There is very little in this manifesto that suggests what a Conservative government would do for this jilted generation.
You can read all 88 pages of this manifesto catchily titled ‘Forward Together: Our Plan for a Stronger Britain and a Prosperous Future’ here.
Labour Party Manifesto
Slogan: ‘For The Many, Not The Few’. That’s right, Labour want you to believe they’re out for you, not for themselves and not for vested interests.
They say: This collection of policies provides a ‘stark choice’ and voting for Labour is your chance to stop things being ‘rigged against’ the many in favour of ‘the few’ and ‘build a country where we invest our wealth to give everyone the best chance.' Jeremy Corbyn’s foreword says ‘a country where everybody is able to get on in life, to have security at work and at home, to be decently paid for the work they do, and to live their lives with the dignity they deserve.’
- Get rid student tuition fees as soon as they’re elected and bring back maintenance grants. It’s worth noting that it was actually a Labour government that introduced tuition fees in the first place.
- On housing they say they will build over one million more homes, with at least half for social rent. They will also guarantee Help to Buy funding as part of the shared equity scheme to get first-time buyers onto the property ladder until 2027 and make sure local people buying their first home ‘first dibs’ on new properties in their area. The current government is planning to end the Help to Buy scheme this year.
- Labour also says it will ban letting agency fees for tenants but it’s worth noting that this is already happening under the current Conservative government. (This is something The Debrief led the charge on - we helped get letting fees scrapped, so we'll take credit for this one, thanks.)
- Nationalise England's nine water companies and bring back public ownership of our railways which were sold off to different public companies in the 1990s. Expensive rail fares and poor services have been a mainstay of the news over the last few years.
- Brexit would still go ahead but Labour would scrap the Conservative government’s white paper and start from scratch at the negotiating table. They want to remain in the single market.
- Bring back the 50p rate of tax for people earning £123,000 or more
- Introduce four extra public holidays each year to mark national patron saints' days
- Ban unpaid internships and raise minimum wage to "at least £10 per hour by 2020"
- Create a National Education Service for England to include all forms of education which, like the NHS, would be built on the principle of free services at the point of delivery.
- Bring back housing benefit for under-21s. This was controversially axed by the Conservative government recently
- More free childcare which, as we here at The Debrief have written before, is the only way we’re ever going to close the gender pay gap. But will Labour go far enough?
- Guarantee triple lock for pensioner incomes, unlike the Conservatives.
- End zero-hours contracts and create a Ministry of Labour to protect workers.
We say: Corbyn is taking his party to the left, to the left. His vision is one that puts trade unions and state-owned services back at the heart of public life which prompted headlines which read ‘Corbyn wants to take us back to the 1970s.’ The focus is on fairness and the state and society as opposed to individuals. There’s plenty here for older people as well as multiple nods to the young, in the tuition fees and housing policies, which suggest that a Corbyn government would try to balance the demands and needs of people across the generations.
If Corbyn were to be elected and implement these policies it would be a big shift from the sort of politics millennials have grown up with.
You can read all 126 pages of Labour’s manifesto for a ‘better, fairer Britain’ here
Lib Dems Manifesto
Slogan: ‘Change Britain’s Future’ and don’t do Brexit, the Lib Dems are shouting.
They say: the Lib Dems say that they are providing voters with an ‘opportunity to change Britain's future - by changing the opposition’. They are positioning themselves as the true opposition to the Conservatives and an alternative opposition to Labour. Tim Farron's foreword says: ‘I want the Liberal Democrats to be the party that holds Theresa May to account over spending on the National Health Service; our young people's education, skills and opportunities; the protection of our precious environment; and our future relationship with Europe.’
- The Lib Dems would hold another referendum, yes you read that right, on the final Second EU Brexit deal
- Introduce a ‘rent to own’ scheme, funded by a Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to help renters get on the property ladder and achieve the same security as those who can afford to buy unaided.
- Invest £7bn in education.
- Lower the voting age to 16.
- Ban the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025 to make our roads more environmentally friendly.
- Scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools that is currently being advocated by the Conservative government.
- End imprisonment for possession of illegal drugs for personal use and create a legal, regulated market for cannabis.
- Reinstate university maintenance grants for poorest students but, note, they are not proposing to get rid of tuition fees. They would also bring back student nurse bursaries which we’ve previously covered in more detail here.
- Increase maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and ban on caged hens on battery farms.
- Extend free childcare to all two-year-olds and introduce an additional month's paid paternity leave for dads. As noted above, this would only be good news for the gender pay gap.
- Like Labour, they would bring back housing benefit for 18-21-year-olds.
- The Lib Dems wouldn’t nationalize all railways but they want the state to take over the running of two particularly bad railways: Southern Rail and Govia Thameslink.
- Ensure that LGBT+ inclusive mental health services receive funding and support.
- Challenge gender stereotyping and ‘early sexualisation’ in school PSHE classes.
- Build more homes with emphasis on affordability and energy efficiency. They would also force building on unwanted public sector land and give local authorities the power to charge as much as 200% council tax on second homes and 'buy to leave empty' investments from overseas. Bad news for buy-to-let landlords!
We say: Let’s not beat around the bush: the Lib Dems have had a rough time with young people since the great tuition fee hike of 2010. This was the moment that the personal became political for an entire generation who had been excited and engaged by the party’s then leader, Nick Clegg. This manifesto is, without a doubt, an attempt to reposition themselves as a serious opposition party (as they were seen in 2009 and 2010) and win back the youth vote. They also launched it at a night club in East London, just in case the actual policies aren’t enough to convince you of who this is aimed at. You can see this in their criticisms of Brexit, Rent to Buy plans, green policies and emphasis on ‘the future’.
Many people feel they’ve been here before with the Lib Dems and had their hearts broken, so it will be interesting to see whether they can win back the hearts and minds of younger voters.
You can read all 100 pages of the Lib Dem’s plan to change this country’s future here
Best of the rest in brief:
Green Party Manifesto
Slogan: A Green Guarantee for a ‘Confident and Caring Britain’
- A four-day working week. Yes, you read that right.
- No more tuition fees.
- A referendum on the final Brexit deal and assurances that we will remain in the single market and retain freedom of movement with Europe.
- Replace fracking and fossil fuels with renewable energy.
- Lower the voting age to 16.
You can read all 26 pages of the Green plan here
Plaid Cymru Manifesto
Slogan: ‘Defending Wales’, an ‘Action Plan’
- Brexit is at the heart of this policy plan which emphasis on protecting Welsh trade with Europe, making sure that any money promised by the controversial Leave campaign makes it into Welsh coffers to the exact decimal point and protecting Welsh identity and autonomy in the face of Brexit.
You can read the full 52 pages of Plaid Cymru’s ideas for Wales here
Scottish Conservatives Manifesto
Slogan: ‘A Strong Opposition – A Stronger Scotland’
- This is all about trying to stave off Scotland’s current ruling party, the SNP and preventing a second referendum on Scottish independence.
You can read 25 pages of very 'strong' ideas here
Scottish National Party Manifesto
Slogan: ‘Re-elect’ us please…’Moving Scotland Forward’
- This manifesto focuses on the SNP’s achievements in power and says ‘since 2007 every home in Scotland has benefited in some way from SNP policies’.
- It commits to a second referendum on Scottish independence to allow Scottish people to be ‘in the driving seat of [their] own destiny’.
You can find 76 pages of Scottish Nationalism here
Women’s Equality Party Manifesto
Slogan: ‘Because equality is better for everyone’… they’re calling their policy offerings ‘nickable’ because they say other parties are sneaking them into their own manifestos.
- Free universal childcare
- Ending violence against women
- Shared parental leave
You can read WE’s 32-page manifesto here
At the time of writing, UKIP had not launched a manifesto
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