Peter Hoskin

The Tories invite you to join government

The Tories invite you to join government
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Battersea Power Station was the site of one of the Tories' most effective publicity stunts of recent months – and it will be the venue for their manifesto launch tomorrow.  Details are already emerging about the document (ConHome has a good summary here), which sounds as though it won't contain much, if anything, that we haven't heard before.  As with Labour earlier, this approach risks an indifferent response from the media and the public.  But at least the Tories have clearer flagship policies to broadcast – the national insurance cut among them.

While the manifesto may not contain any new policy, it sounds as though the Tories have gone to town on it presentationally.  It will be a 130-page hardback book, and will be themed around its title: "An invitation to join the government of Britain".  In practice, this means that the Tories are highlighting eight different ways in which you can get involved with government, which ConHome lists as:

1. Be your own boss by running your public sector enterprise as a co-operative or via innovative business start up schemes;

2. Sack your MP via a power of recall;

3. Run your own school as Conservatives facilitate the creation of new schools where previously parents had no alternatives;

4. Own your own home with first-time homebuyers freed from stamp duty and new ownership opportunities for social tenants;

5. Veto council tax rises with residents getting the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue if 5% of the local population sign up;

6. Vote for your police so your community gets the anti-crime policies that you and your neighbours want;

7. Save your local pub or post office via co-operative ownership models;

8. See how government spends your money by forcing government to publish what they spend.

This "invitation" theme may sound gimmicky at first glance – and it may seem to lack the steel that the fiscal crisis demands – but it does still capture the essence of many of the Tories' most encouraging policies.  At a time when politicians are regarded with almost unprecedented disdain and loathing, the Tories are banking on this general devolution of power and responsibility being a vote-winner.  We shall see whether their plan comes together tomorrow.

UPDATE: Tim Montgomerie gives his views on the theme of the Tory Manifesto over at Spectator Live.

UPDATE 2: The Guardian have this image of the manifesto's sober (and, surely, spoof-proof) cover: