Katy Balls

Five things we’ve learnt from the Conservative manifesto

Five things we've learnt from the Conservative manifesto
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Today Theresa May unveiled the 2017 Conservative and Unionist Party manifesto at an event in West Yorkshire. Parking her tanks on Labour's lawn, the Prime Minister tried to appeal to working class voters as she revealed her vision for 'a stronger Britain and a prosperous future'. Here's what can be gleaned from the slimline document:

  • A Conservative government would push back eliminating the deficit until 2026. Once again the party has delayed its target date for balancing the books. May has given herself until the middle of the next decade (so by 2026 at latest) to balance the books. Given that George Osborne promised to do this by 2015, it's fair to take the latest target with a pinch of salt.
  • May's Red Toryism means market intervention and stiffer rules for business. May's 'great meritocracy' would reject 'untrammelled free markets' and 'rein in corporate excesses'. The anti-business tone has not gone down all that well with the business community ('Reagan's "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" was intended as a warning, not a how-to guide for a future Tory government'). However, the Prime Minister is betting that even if business figures are displeased they aren't about to ditch the Conservatives for Comrade Corbyn.
  • Nuclear power station plans could be put on ice under May. Where the 2015 Tory manifesto promised 'a significant expansion in new nuclear', May's has no mention of the plans for new nuclear power stations. While the deal for Hinkley Point is already done, don't expect to see anymore be given the green light.
  • If the Conservatives win, grammar schools are back (even if May's colleagues don't like it). The manifesto says a Tory government would 'lift the ban on the establishment of selective schools'. By putting the controversial plans in the manifesto it will be in the Queen's speech. This means the Lords will not be able to block it -- even if a lot of peers personally oppose the plans.
  • Prime Minister May would be good news for the media industry. Where Corbyn said he wanted to implement the recommendations of Leveson part one and begin part two, May would drop Leveson part two and repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014, which, if enacted, could force media organisations to pay the legal costs of both sides in libel and privacy cases, even if they win.
  • Written byKaty Balls

    Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor. She is also a columnist for the i paper.

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