Wed, 18 May 2022

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By Women in Westminster

ANALYSIS: Tories decide less is more as they learn lessons of 2017 manifesto debacle

ANALYSIS: Tories decide less is more as they learn lessons of 2017 manifesto debacle
3 min read

Those who fail to learn from history, it is said, are doomed to repeat it.


It is safe to say, therefore, that Tory high command have studied the mistakes made in their 2017 election campaign very closely indeed.

Two years ago, the launch of Theresa May's manifesto marked the beginning of the end of her premiership.

Before the 88-page document landed, the then-Prime Minister appeared to be well on the way to a convincing victory.

But its contents landed so badly - especially, but not exclusively, their 'Dementia Tax' plan to solve the social care crisis - that the final three weeks of the campaign were a disaster, culminating in the loss of May's Commons majority.

Boris Johnson - who, like his predecessor, is currently enjoying a healthy opinion poll lead - is taking no such chances this time.

For starters, his manifesto is 24 pages smaller. There's a very good reason for that - there is very little in it.

Unlike in 2017, the Conservatives have resisted the temptation to put anything controversial in it at all. Whereas Team May took their poll lead as a sign that they had room to draw up some less-than-popular policies - the social care stuff was by no means the only clunker - Team Johnson have decided there is no need to take any risks unless absolutely necessary.

So they have decided the 2019 manifesto should make clear that not only are the Tories pro-motherhood, but they are most definitely pro-apple pie as well.

There are promises of 50,000 more nurses, 20,000 more police officers, no increases to income tax, VAT or National Insurance, £2bn to fill potholes and the scrapping of hospital car parking charges.

On social care, despite Boris Johnson previously insisting that he had a plan to fix it, there is nothing more than a bit of extra cash and some warm words about working cross-party party to find a long-term solution to the problem.

The Tories were suspciously slow to actually produce an online version of the manifesto, increasing suspicions that there may actually be some hostages to fortune lurking in there somewhere.

But for now, it would appear as though Johnson has avoided the pitfalls that did for the last incumbent in Number 10.

Writing in The Times a couple of days ago, the PM's brother Jo, who helped to write the Tories' 2015 manifesto, warned that "if a manifesto is going to unravel it will do so fast".

"You’ll know about it on the bus on the way home from the launch event in some northern or Midlands marginal," he said. "If anyone is talking about it more than 48 hours after it’s been released, you’re in serious trouble."

That means his brother must hold his breath until this time on Tuesday to know just how badly, or otherwise, the manifesto has gone down with the Great British public.

If he's still smiling on Wednesday morning, Jeremy Corbyn has a serious problem.

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