Boris Johnson served up a 60-page election manifesto which failed to tackle the major issues facing Britain today.
The Conservatives’ wafer-thin plan – their third ballot box blueprint manifesto in just four years – offered little hope for those suffering from the social injustices gripping the country.
Experts compared it with the pledges unveiled by rival parties last week.
Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank director Paul Johnson said: “If the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos were notable for the scale of their ambitions, the Conservative one is not.
“If a single Budget had contained all these tax and spending proposals we would have been calling it modest.
“As a blueprint for five years in government the lack of significant policy action is remarkable.”
The hapless Prime Minister derailed his own manifesto launch after last week blurting out his plan to cut national insurance contributions.
The eye-catching commitment was meant to be the flagship announcement of today’s event.
But the bungling party chief let it slip at a factory in Teesside – leaving him little to show off today.
Instead, the manifesto provided thin gruel for those hoping for a plan to revive Britain and tackle the issues facing the nation.
Holding the document aloft, the Prime Minister claimed: “In this manifesto there is a vision for the future in which we unite our country.
“It is time to unleash the potential of our country and forge a new Britain.”
But the vision unveiled by the Tory leader booted any hope of thrashing out a solution to the chronic social care crisis into the long grass, said nothing about the 14 million meals handed out to hungry families by foodbanks last year and vowed to press on with the disastrous rollout of Universal Credit .
Here are 9 issues that look set to rattle on if the Tories win the election on December 12.
1. Women hit by state pension age rises
Pensioners will keep the triple lock on pensions, the winter fuel payment and the older person’s bus pass if the Tories win power.
But there is no mention of any help for 3.8million 1950s-born who were hit when their pension age rose – often with too little warning, leaving plans in tatters.
Labour today pledged £57billion to the women, with restitution payments averaging £15,000 and worth up to £31,300 per head. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: “We see this as a debt of honour.”
But Boris Johnson told one woman affected on Friday that he couldn’t “magic up” cash for her and it was “difficult” to solve the problem.
That is despite the Tory leader vowing to look at the issue with “fresh vigour” and see what he could do when he was running for the top job.
2. Social care
On social care, the Tories offered no solution and instead set red lines for cross-party talks.
That is despite the PM claiming on his first day in Downing Street he had a plan to fix the crisis-hit system.
Instead, today’s manifesto said: “We will build a cross-party consensus to bring forward an answer that solves the problem, commands the widest possible support, and stands the test of time.
“That consensus will consider a range of options but one condition we do make is that nobody needing care should be forced to sell their home to pay for it.”
The Tories’ costings, published alongside the manifesto, promised no new care funding.
Genevieve Edwards, Director of External Affairs at the MS Society, said: “We’re extremely disappointed by the lack of a concrete plan to mend our broken social care system.
” Boris Johnson announced on his first day as Prime Minister that he would fix this ‘once and for all’, yet we’re still in the dark about how and when this will be done”
3. The climate crisis
The manifesto pledges plenty on the environment – the next Budget will be climate-focused, there’s a new levy to increase the proportion of recyclable plastics in packaging and a ban on plastic waste to non-OECD countries, and a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles.
Plus many others.
But the ideas have been branded “half-baked” by Greenpeace, who say they are a “a sprinkling of promising commitments for climate and nature but not the radical action needed”.
For example, the manifesto pledges to “consult on the earliest date” to phase out petrol and diesel cars – but doesn’t say when that will be.
It offers a moratorium on fracking but no permanent ban, and it commits to several road building projects.
It says it will be for Heathrow at this point, not the government, to determine whether a third runway can meet environmental tests.
And it commits to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which the Tories say was advised by the Independent Committee on Climate Change but campaigners say doesn’t go far enough.
4. Universal Credit
The manifesto pledges to continue with the rollout of Universal Credit despite people on the six-in-one benefit being driven to destitution and food banks.
There is no mention of cutting the five-week wait for first payment under the benefit, or scrapping measures like the two-child limit which has hit nearly 600,000 children.
In fact, no money is committed to resolve problems in the benefit. The only new offerings on benefits are a change to make disabled people face fewer PIP reassessments, and five days’ leave for unpaid carers.
The manifesto simply pledges to “do more to make sure Universal Credit works for the most vulnerable”.
5. Public sector pay
There was no wage lifeline for public sector workers, compared with the 5% pay rise for April promised by Labour.
Town halls mired financial black holes were warned the bleak funding squeeze would continue.
The manifesto said: “Local people will continue to have the final say on council tax, being able to veto excessive rises.
“This does not prevent councils raising more – but it does ensure that they will need to have solid and convincing reasons for doing so.”
The Tories vow to end the scandal of rough sleeping altogether by the end of the next Parliament in 2024 – three years earlier than the 2027 target pledged in 2017.
They say this will be achieved by expanding the Rough Sleeping Initiative and Housing First as well as “bringing together local services” to address people’s needs.
And it’ll be paid for with a 3% stamp duty surcharge on foreign home-buyers.
But the homelessness charity Crisis said the manifesto “falls short of the mark” because it is lacking key commitments in areas that help fuel homelessness in the first place.
Lest we forget, street sleeping is only a small proportion of homelessness – a lot of it is people eternally trapped in grim B&Bs, costing councils a packet with no easy way out.
Chief executive Jon Sparkes said: “It’s very troubling to see no firm commitments to invest in housing benefit so it truly covers the cost of people’s rents, or any firm targets in place to build the social homes our country is crying out for.”
The manifesto makes no mention of food banks – reliance on which has exploded in the nine years of Tory rule.
Around 65million meals were handed out by the Trussell Trust over five years.
While Labour has pledged to end the need for foodbanks within three years, such a pledge is missing from the Tory manifesto.
8. Free TV licences for the over-75s
The Conservatives even washed their hands of a pledge made just two years ago to preserve free TV licences for the over-75s.
The manifesto said: “We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC.”
Compare that to the 2017 manifesto, which said: “We will maintain all other pensioner benefits, including free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences, for the duration of this parliament.”
Some 3.7 million pensioners face being forced to fork out £154.50 from June.
The Prime Minister laid out a platform of more spending on police and the NHS, while guaranteeing there would be no rises in key taxes, as he unveiled the party’s manifesto for the General Election on December 12.
Speaking at a launch event in Telford, he reaffirmed his commitment to take the UK out of the EU by the end of January, so they could “forge a new Britain”.
“We will get Brexit done and we will end the acrimony and the chaos,” he said.
What do Labour say?
Labour said the Tory plan “offers nothing to tackle the poverty crisis facing Britain, nothing to stop even more children being pushed into poverty, nothing to end the scourge of in-work poverty”.
Jeremy Corbyn added: “Labour’s manifesto is full of popular policies that the political establishment has blocked for a generation.
“Labour will deliver the real change Britain needs, so that no-one is held back and no community left behind.”
Workers’ leaders blasted the latest Tory bid for power.
General election manifesto policies 2019
Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This Conservative plan doesn’t deliver for working people.
“It’s designed to benefit billionaires and bosses.
“It won’t fix our public services, protect workers’ rights or get wages rising for everyone.
“After a decade of Conservative-imposed austerity, our economy is weak and working families are paying the price.
“We need change.”
Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Sir Ed Davey added: “These promises are not worth the paper they are written on.”
This content was originally published here.