The last of the main parties to launch their manifesto, the Conservatives celebrated the release of their party platform with launch event on Thursday 18th May, at Halifax, a traditional Labour seat, which has over years become a swing seat, meaning it could go either way. As with her campaign events, Theresa May was the centre of attention, and there were lots of references to her catch phrase ‘strong and stable leadership/government.’ The key policies within the manifesto, as with the two other main parties were: the economy, Brexit, healthcare and housing.
The economy is an area where the Conservatives have often been eager to point out the good work they have done. Indeed, in their manifesto they promise to provide sound public finances, low taxes, better regulation and free trade deals with markets around the world to ensure a better and healthier economy. They also promise to protect the national living wage of £7.50 an hour that they introduced in 2015/16, and to ensure that with Brexit approaching, workers’ rights and protections are not forfeited, through the introduction of new workers’ rights as part of the Great Repeal Bill. The Conservatives also promise fairer corporate governance with new rules for takeovers, executive pay and possible worker representation on boards. In regards to income tax, the Conservatives promise to raise the minimum personal allowance to £12,500 whilst raising the maximum level to £50,000.
On Brexit, the manifesto sticks very closely to what has been said by Theresa May throughout the campaign. The Conservatives if elected to government will bring the UK out of the EU, the single market, the customs union and end freedom of movement-apart from the case of the border with the Republic of Ireland- this is what has been called a ‘hard Brexit.’ With the Great Repeal Bill, the Conservatives promise to convert all EU law that they wish to maintain into UK law, making it laws created in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast that are purely British, fulfilling their pledge to ‘take back control’. Finally, in acknowledgement of the recent Supreme Court decision, the final agreement for Brexit will be subject to a vote by Parliament. Contrasting with the Liberal Democrats desire to hold another referendum on the deal.
Health care policy has attracted much criticism on the Conservatives in their seven years in government. Therefore, it is not surprising that they have in their manifesto, pledged £8 billion in investment for the NHS, with £1 billion going into mental health research and funding. The manifesto promises to reform antiquated laws such as the Mental Health Act, and improve Health and Safety regulations to take this into account. The ‘triple lock’ on pensions will be replaced in 2020 with a ‘double lock’, keeping the link with earnings and prices but scrapping the minimum of 2.5% a year increase. The state pension age will rise with increases in life expectancy. The reforms on healthcare also promise to focus on the least well of pensioners, meaning that those with assets of £100,000 will need to pay for their own winter fuel payments and contribute to the government contribution.
With housing becoming an increasingly demanding issue for many within the UK, the Conservative manifesto gives a brief inkling of what they would do to remedy this situation if elected. The manifesto promises a full implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act, pledging to halve rough sleeping over the course of the next parliament, and to remove it completely by 2027. This would take place through the implementation of a Housing First approach, giving priority to rough sleepers for new houses. The Conservatives would also modernise the home buying process, they would improve upon their ‘Help to Buy’ scheme, and increase protection for renters, make landlords provide longer tenancies and finally ensure that all properties meet required standards.