Manifestos compared: where do the big three parties stand on the issues that matter?

On the campaign trail, party leaders throw jibes at each other, and portray other party’s policies in the worst possible light, all in an attempt to vilify the opposition. In amongst all the media storms, and less than catchy campaign slogans, it’s important to look at what the true intentions of each party actually are. This is why manifestos are so important, to enable voters to make an educated decision.

That’s why we’ve outlined for you below, the promises of each party, on the key areas affecting Britain. By looking at each party’s standing, side by side, we can clearly see the potential futures we have available to choose from come 8 June.

 

Brexit

This has been called the Brexit election, with party leaders putting forward their individual approaches to leaving the EU as reasons for a vote in their direction. Theresa May claims to be a more reliable choice for negotiating the exit than Jeremy Corbyn, whilst over at Lib Dem HQ, Tim Farron is determined to avoid a “disastrous hard Brexit.”

Conservatives

In the manifesto, the line “no deal is better than a bad deal” appears quickly, and this is a sentiment that runs through the ‘Leaving the European Union’ section. They will “push ahead with Brexit”, and of course seek “free trade and customs agreements.”

Labour

The Labour manifesto begins with the claim that it will ”immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain,” and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who have chosen to make their lives in EU countries.

The Labour Party plan to scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper if elected, and replace it with “fresh negotiating priorities”. Retaining access to the single market will likely be the top of these negotiating priorities. They also put an emphasis on rejecting a no-deal outcome,and pledge to keep EU-derived laws on workers’ rights, equality, consumer rights and environmental protections.

Liberal  Democrats

The Europe section of the manifesto portion of the Lib Dem website is titled “Fighting a Hard Brexit”, and this is certainly one of the key messages the Lib Dems are leaning on to gather support in this general election. Retaining membership of the single market to avoid a hard Brexit has been leader Tim Farron’s slogan from the start, with a focus on the nature of the ‘deal’ to be negotiated with Europe.

The Liberal Democrats also have a focus on citizens rights, as they promise to “guarantee the rights of all NHS and social care service staff who are EU nationals, the right to stay in the UK.” Most controversially, they propose that the final deal should be put to a vote, with the alternative being to stay in the EU.

The Environment

Conservatives

Whilst the Conservatives give no firm figures on the environment, they boast that, as a country, we are “halfway towards meeting our 2050 goal of reducing emissions by eighty per cent from 1990 levels”, and say they will aim to continue the progress. In the ‘Natural Gas from Shale’ section, they pledge to use the fuel source as it is “cleaner than coal”, and aim to set up a Shale Environmental Regulator to increase planning permissions for non-fracking drilling.

Later, in the ‘Our Countryside Communities’ section, they make the poetic “pledge to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.” Much like the opposition, the Conservatives “want almost every car and van to be zero-emission by 2050” and to this end they pledge to invest £600 million by 2020.

Labour

The environment section of the Labour manifesto begins “The Conservatives broke their promise to be the greenest government ever.” This is a strategic attack on the Conservatives within the election document, and they continue to say that they pledge to introduce “a new Clean Air Act to deal with the Conservative legacy of illegal air quality.” They pledge to support “the creation of clean modes of transport through investment in low emission vehicles”, and whilst numbers aren’t put on paper here, they do plan to “retrofit thousands of diesel buses in areas with the most severe air quality problems to Euro 6 standards.”

Liberal  Democrats

The Lib Dems aim to introduce a “Green Transport Act”, aiming for clean air, protecting citizens whilst supporting the manufacture of low-emission and electric vehicles, and a ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025. They also plan to cut air pollution, ban fracking, and aim to ensure that “4 million properties receive insulation retrofits by 2022, prioritising the fuel poor.” The Lib dems also have plans for wastage, passing a ‘Zero waste act’ reducing food and other wastage.

Read: Air Pollution: The UK’s Silent Killer

The NHS

Conservatives

The Conservatives state that they will “make it a priority in our negotiations with the European Union that the 140,000 staff from EU countries can carry on making their vital contribution to our health and care system”, but add that they also “cannot continue to rely on bringing in clinical staff instead of training sufficient numbers ourselves.” If elected, the Conservatives will invest, as they have done last year, into increasing the number of medical students in training to 1,500.

With regards to mental health services, the party guarantees an investment of £1 billion by 20/21 into mental health services, and pledge to recruit up to 10,000 more mental health professionals, requiring that staff have a “deeper understanding of mental health”.

Labour

As always, Labour has made the NHS a flagship of their manifesto. In it they call back to how Labour  “found the resources to create a National Health Service” after the Second World War, and set out a number of ways they will support the service if elected.

Labour will commit to over £30 billion in extra funding over the next Parliament, through increasing income tax for the highest 5 per cent of earners, and by increasing tax on private medical insurance, an aspect of their manifesto which has seen much backlash, as many claim the ‘numbers don’t add up’. They also claim they will “immediately guarantee the rights of EU staff working in our health and care services.” In mental health policy, the party aims to introduce mental health first aid training for teachers in every primary and secondary school by the end of the parliament.”

Read: Mental health services in the UK could see a flatline in funding

Liberal Democrats

Like Labour, the Lib Dems election document has made much of ‘saving the NHS’, and putting enough funding back into its staff and the system to keep it afloat.

To fund this, the Lib Dems pledge they will introduce a 1p rise “on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax to raise £6 billion additional revenue which would be ringfenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services.” In the long term, they aim to introduce a budget monitoring system for healthcare, which would assess how much funding is needed each year to sustain the system.

NHS staff are also a focus here; as mentioned earlier the Lib Dems aim to guarantee the “rights of all NHS and social care service staff”, and crucially they will aim to “end the public sector pay freeze for NHS workers.” The party also will also aim to make waiting times for mental health care match those for physical health care.

 

Education

Conservatives

The Conservatives aim to achieve a “great Meritocracy: a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow, where advantage is based on merit not privilege.” Meritocracy, defined as “the holding of power by people selected according to merit”, is a backbone of the Conservative party. They also pledge to “make it a condition for universities hoping to charge maximum tuition fees to become involved in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools.”

Labour

Labour put forward firm plans for a “National Education Service”, aiming to do what the NHS did in creating “one of the central institutions of fairness of the 20th century.” This aim to achieve a “cradle-to-grave learning that is free at the point of use.” They aim to move away from the “inefficient free schools and the Conservatives’ grammar schools vanity project”, and at university level, they pledge to “reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and we will abolish university tuition fees.”

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems step strongly into education in their manifesto, in the ‘Putting Children First’ section, where they pledge to “make sure that the education system finds and unleashes the best in everyone.” The first priority they outline is “investing nearly £7 billion extra in our children’s education”, and in a move that puts them firmly against the action of recent Conservative policies, they aim to oppose “any new selective schools”, and look to give “local authorities proper democratic control over admissions and new schools.”

 

Disability

Conservatives

May’s Conservative’s have had a hard time on the election trail, with a video of a learning-disabled woman taking the Prime minister to task generating a buzz on social media. In their manifesto, the Conservatives say they aim to “get 1 million more people with disabilities into employment over the next ten years.” They also say they will review disabled people’s access to buildings and parking areas, and amend them if necessary.

 

 

Labour

Labour makes many specific promises on disability. The party aims to “increase Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 per week for those in the work-related activity group, and repeal cuts in the UC limited capacity for work element. They also include the promise to scrap “the Conservatives’ punitive sanctions regime”.

Liberal Democrats

Whilst the Lib Dems do “seek to expand” the Access to Work scheme, which supports disabled workers, there is a lack of specific policies with regards to disability from a financial support standpoint in the manifesto. They do claim they will support the ‘Access for All’ programme, improving disabled access to public transport as a key priority.

 

Homelessness

Conservatives

In an extraordinary claim, the Conservatives say they will aim to “halve rough sleeping over the course of the parliament and eliminate it altogether by 2027.” This will be done by a “homelessness reduction taskforce”.

Labour

Labour also promises to end homelessness in Britain, by way of introducing “4,000 additional homes reserved for people with a history of rough sleeping.”

Liberal Democrats

Whilst specific the manifesto lacks specific means to tackle homelessness, the Liberal Democrats manifesto does aim to “End the scandal of rough sleeping” by way of ensuring there is “at least one provider of the Housing First model of provision for long-term, entrenched homeless people.”

 

The Cost of Energy

Conservatives

Much of the Conservatives efforts to tackle the cost of living are within the energy market. The party aims to install a smart meter into every home, allowing full monitoring of energy use, as well as the much publicised price cap on energy tariffs.

Labour

Labour has also made a pledge to put a cap on energy costs, and invest in new “publicy owned energy provisions.” Labour’s pledges will set an ‘emergency price cap’ ensuring household energy bills are below £1,000 per year.

Liberal Democrats

In aiming to reduce the cost of powering homes, the Lib Dems vow to introduce a Green-Buildings act to set “new energy-efficiency targets”, and make sure 4 million homes are energy efficient, and 30% of homes are powered by competitors to the ‘Big 6’ by 2020.

 

Business

Conservatives

Though pledges to help small business are thin on numbers, the manifesto outlines the aim to “support small businesses through business rate relief and low taxation,” and ensure that “33 per cent of central government purchasing will come from SMEs by the end of the parliament.” On big business, the Conservatives pledge to stick to the current government target and lower corporation tax to 17% by 2020.

Labour

Labour vow to reinstate the lower rate corporation tax for small businesses.  The party will also scrap quarterly reporting for businesses with an annual turnover of less than £85,000. Labour’s manifesto also states the part will aim to achieve a ‘proper definition for co-operative ownership’, and ‘aim to double the size of the co-operative sector in the UK, putting it on a par with those in leading economies like Germany or the US.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems have been accused of conveying mixed messages with regards to businesses, as they have pledge to raise corporation tax to 20%, but Tim Farron insists that the Lib Dems are still the “pro-business party” and that the tax hike will allow more funding for training. Indeed, much of the Lib Dems manifesto does touch on training and education, with an aim to  “train up young people as apprentices in every sector of our economy.”

 

Public Services – Rail, Energy, Water and Royal Mail

Conservatives

“the largest investment in railways since Victorian times” is promised by the Conservatives, a claim that may be hard to pin down, but does appear to be positive;they pledge to invest £40 billion into transport in general, over the rest of this decade, and continue the projects already underway, including the expansion of Heathrow airport, High Speed 2 and the Northern Powerhouse.

Labour

Labour pledges to achieve public ownership of rail companies, and achieve a publicly owned, decentralised energy system and system of publicly owned regional water companies. The Party also aims to ‘reverse the privatisation of the Royal Mail at the earliest opportunity’.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems aim to invest “significant investment in road and rail infrastructure”,  and bring in a new ‘Young Person’s Bus Discount Card’, giving people aged 16–21 two-thirds discount on bus travel. They also commit to the continuation of the HS2, Crossrail 2 and rail electrification projects.

 

 

Tax Changes

Conservatives

The Conservatives, unlike their opposition, are lowering corporation taxes, pledging to meet the target of 17% by 2020. They also aim to “increase the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate to £50,000.” Locally, residents will be able to veto council tax increases via a referendum vote. VAT will remain the same. Whilst the controversial business rates are not addressed in numbers in the manifesto, it does state they will conduct a “full review of the business rates system.”

Labour

Labour go even further than the Lib Dems on corporation tax, aiming for a raise from 19 percent now, to 21 percent next year, 24 percent a year later and 26 percent the year after that. They also pledge to scrap the bedroom tax, another much publicised move, in an agenda that will no doubt raise cheers from the majority of working class voter and potentially conjure sneers from the city.

Lib Dems

The Lib Dems are looking to issue an immediate 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax to raise £6 billion additional revenue which would be ringfenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services. The Lib Dems also pledge to raise corporation tax to 20 percent.

The Labour Party manifesto

The Conservative Party manifesto

The Liberal Democrats manifesto

 

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