General Election 2019 UK Politics

General Election 2019: Conservatives’ Manifesto

Written by Callum Williams

Note: Due to devolution, some policies only apply to certain regions of the UK, footnotes in each section indicate the geographical scope of each policy.

Brexit

The Conservatives have pledged to pass Johnson’s deal in parliament before Christmas and leave the EU in January. They pledge that the UK will leave the single market, customs union and will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. They also promise that the UK will negotiate a trade agreement and will not extend the transition arrangements beyond December 2020.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Health and Social Care

Under a Conservative government, 40 new hospitals would be built over the next decade and funding for the NHS would be increased by £650m a week by the end of the next parliament. They have pledged to recruit 50,000 more nurses and 6,000 doctors. Furthermore, they will introduce maintenance grants for nurses and introduce an NHS Visa to fast-track entry for NHS workers. The manifesto also states the NHS will not be ‘on the table’ in a trade deal.

For social care, the Conservatives have pledged £1bn per year and they plan to seek ‘a cross-party consensus’ to develop a long-term plan for social care but they have guaranteed that no-one would need to sell their home to pay for care.

Note: Healthcare is a devolved matter, so these policies would only apply to England.

Education

For education, the Conservatives have already pledged an extra £14bn for schools and plan to raise starting salaries for teachers to £30,000 per year. Furthermore, £1bn would be used to fund ‘affordable childcare’. A national skills fund worth £3bn would be established which would fund education and training for individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Note: Education is a devolved matter, so these policies would only apply to England.

Justice

The manifesto pledges to reverse the cuts made by the Tory government and replace 20,000 of the 21,000 police officers lost since 2010. They would give the police new stop and search powers to target those previously convicted of knife crime and create 10,000 extra prison places.

The Conservatives plan to focus on a punitive based justice system instead of a rehabilitative one. They plan to introduce tougher sentences for the ‘worst offenders’, toughen community sentences, end automatic halfway release (prisoners tend to only serve half their sentence in prison and the other half in the community) for serious crimes and introduce whole life orders for child murderers.

Note: Justice is a devolved matter, so these policies would only apply to England and Wales.

Immigration

The Conservatives plan to introduce an ‘Australian-style points-based immigration system’. Their system would give preference to those who have a ‘good grasp’ of English, are law-abiding citizens and have good qualifications. The new system would give no preference to EU citizens but would guarantee EU citizens who currently live in the UK a right to remain.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Transport

The Tories plan to invest in public transport infrastructure by investing £28.6bn in roads with an additional £1bn for a network of electric car charging points. For rail, they will invest in the Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Midlands Rail hub.

Note: Transport is partly devolved, this policy would only apply to England.

Housing and Welfare

The Conservatives plan to build 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. For the elderly, they will protect the triple lock, winter fuel licences and the old persons bus pass but have made no guarantee for free over-75 TV licences.

Note: Housing is devolved, so the housing policy would only apply to England. However, welfare policies would apply to the whole UK.

Democracy

The Tories want to rollout full devolution across England, they would set out their devolution plans in a white paper next year. They also claim that following Brexit they will “look at the broader aspects of our constitution” including ‘The relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative [and] the role of the House of Lords”.

A second independence referendum would be opposed under a Conservative Government.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Tax and Economy

The proposed tax plans would increase the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 next year which would save workers about £85 per year. The manifesto also includes a pledge not to raise Income Tax, National Insurance or VAT.

The plans include reduced Business Rates however, the exact nature of the cuts aren’t specified. The Conservatives also pledged to crack down on tax avoidance by creating a dedicated tax evasion unit at HMRC and doubling the maximum custodial sentence for tax fraud to 14 years.

The Conservatives plan to invest £150m in a community ownership fund to fund the takeover of under-threat community assets e.g. pubs and post offices. They will also invest £250m in ‘civic infrastructure’ e.g. libraries and museums and £500m in youth clubs and services.

On a national level, they will invest £100bn in infrastructure including road and rail. Furthermore, £5bn would be spent on providing greater mobile coverage and the rollout of ‘gigabit’ broadband across the UK by 2025.

Note: These policies apply to the whole UK except Income Tax which doesn’t apply to Scotland and Business Rates which don’t apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Climate Change:

To tackle climate change, the Conservatives would create a new office for environmental protection with legally binding targets. The Tories would invest £1bn to develop affordable clean energy, £640m in a ‘Nature for Climate Fund’ including planting 75,000 acres of trees and £500m for a ‘Blue Planet Fund’ to protect the oceans.

Furthermore, £9.2bn would be invested in making homes, schools and hospitals energy efficient, £800m would be invested in deploying ‘carbon capture storage cluster’ by the mid-2020s and £500m to help move industries to low-carbon techniques.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Defence

The Conservatives have pledged to maintain defence spending in line with NATO targets at 2% of GDP and maintain trident.

Note: This policy would apply to the whole UK.

Analysis

Johnson manifesto embodies his campaign strategy, talk about Brexit, attack Labour but offer very little substantive policy. The Tory manifesto is about half the size of the other parties at just 64 pages, hardly sufficient policy for five years in government.

The Conservative manifesto has been criticised as the costings don’t stand up to scrutiny, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said “It [manifesto] is also part of a fundamentally damaging narrative – that we can have the public services… without paying for them. We can’t.”.

Unsurprisingly, Brexit was the headline policy in the manifesto. After three years of uncertainty, a clear Brexit policy and an ‘end’ to Brexit will appeal to voters especially given the relative complexity of Labour’s policy. However, Johnson’s ambition to gain a trade deal within a year is unrealistic, considering Canada’s 7-year negotiation with the EU, and so Johnson would have to break another promise or face a no-deal cliff edge.

On domestic policy, the manifesto offers little change. It is just the status quo plus some additional expenditure in public services reversing some of the Tories decisions in Government, with them still blaming Labour for the economic ‘mess’ despite being in office for a decade.

While other parties led with the environment as a top priority, it was barely a footnote in the Tories’ manifesto. Although they promised investment, it doesn’t come close to the decisive action promised by Labour, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats.

Overall, the manifesto is unambitious, uninspiring and a continuation of the status quo. Although, it is unlikely to inspire the masses to support Johnson’s Conservatives, the clarity on Brexit and the benefit of having a relatively popular leader will likely allow Johnson to return to No. 10.

You can read the full manifesto here.

About the author

Callum Williams

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