Manifesto 2017 is a very different creation. I slogged through
it for at least ten hours trying to extract its essence and then
To be fair
- it has a lot more stuff in it than the Labour Manifesto, but
it is presented as a collection of blurred overlapping incomplete
bits and pieces - not as a joined-up integrated system. I think
that is why it was so hard to work out what it is about.
difficult problems, some of which the political system has been
systematically ignoring for a long time - the need for innovation
in the economy, a smooth orderly exit from EU, tackling enduring
social divisions and injustices, how to respond to the needs of
our aging population, harnessing the new technologies for the
common good. (Unfortunately it doesn't list all of the systematically
ignored issues, or address why our current form of democracy is
prone to ignoring serious issues, but it is a start)
It talks about
the need for government to take practical decisions, balancing
and regulating competing interests in the interest of the
whole country - not just a privileged few. It says it will be
pragmatic and realistic - not driven by dangerous extreme delusional
outdated ideologies of left or right (or anywhere else).
the need to balance: the rights and desires of the individual
against the needs of a healthy sustainable society - the private
sector and the public sector. (That's good - they have been reading
Jonathan Haidt's Righteous Mind - they should have made more of
that people want a meritocracy - good schools for their children,
access to training and technical education to equip them with
the changing skills needed in the changing workplace, a fair chance
with no obstruction.
that people are concerned about the cost of living - want a fair
deal as consumers - security in their jobs, care and accommodation
and old age. They want world class public services, secure pensions
and protection and security against Terrorism.
government to listen to their legitimate concerns and stand up
to abuses of power and privilege.
It talks about
the conservative's underlying beliefs and values - they reject
selfish individualism, untrammeled markets, social division, injustice
unfairness inequality, abuses of power, extremism, delusional
ideologies, violence because of race, faith or sexuality.
stand against climate change, habitat degradation, species loss,
modern slavery, child poverty, disease resistance and emerging
for - a global role in promoting democracy and tolerance (within
reason hopefully), the Rule of Law, Free Trade, Sound Finances,
Low Taxes (generating higher receipts) Fair Tax Collection. Fair
Balanced Regulated Markets, a better deal for consumers - keeping
down the cost of living, personal responsibility and accountability,
support for the economy, support for business, balanced regional
prosperity, prosperous town cities and rural communities, contented
communities, investing for / not borrowing from the future, rebuilding
respect for our institutions.
that 'Work is the best way out of Poverty' (as opposed to...subsidy?)
- hence work should always pay. So they propose a National Living
wage - a world class meritocracy with opportunity for talent and
hard work, great schools - great education for skills and technical
training - and opportunities (a right even) for life long learning.
a lot more to say than Labour about the housing problem, its causes
and what to do about it. They even acknowledge that it is a supply
and demand problem - not just a supply problem. They propose
to free up land, speed up the development process, encourage modern
methods of construction, encourage diversity in who builds, promote
estate quality and sustainability, ensure quality developments
that add to rather than distract from what is there now, and are
thus be more welcome (well less opposed) by local communities.
Promote integrated communities, stand against poor estate and
community infrastructure designs, protect the Green Belt and National
Parks, rebalance housing growth across the country. New fixed
term social housing, (sold after 15 years (who to, the most recent
temporary tenant?) and reinvested), reformed compulsory purchase
orders, public and private builders to capture the increase in
land values to incentivize and fund building (that's clever).
£2.5B flood defense program (hopefully they will stop building
in flood plains and upstream soil erosion too). They also acknowledge
but not address the problem that a lot of private money is going
into property because it is seen as a safe rising asset - which
would be better invested (for the good of the nation) in other
more productive economic areas.
the economy it recognizes that we need to invest in infrastructure,
education, innovation, and R&D, (but there is not much detail,
and no mention of the Emperor's Clothes taboo - what has gone
so wrong - and therefore needs to be put right - with education.)
passing references to - A Shared Prosperity Fund (from EU returns),
a Future Britain Funds, a National Prosperity Investment Fund,
new Institutes for Technology, a new Skills Advisory Panel, Local
Enterprise Partnerships, a right to lifelong learning, a new National
Infrastructure Police Force for counter terrorism and white collar
crime, world class public services (more accountable and better
employers - reduce the bullying in the NHS for example) - investments
in NHS people, buildings and technology. Universities working
for local communities (as opposed to?), and a review of the definitions
or asylum and refugee status (hopefully moving towards temporary
So here is
the diagram I drew as I was trying to make sense of it. The very
first box contains the secret of why it was so hard to make sense
of it. "Tackle chronic injustices". This says 'We acknowledge
that there are some persistent problems but we have not specified
what they are, what causes them, why they have persisted despite
the best efforts of generations of well intentioned people, what
has been tried and failed in the past, what we are going to try
his time - or what exactly 'tackle' means, or what a good outcome
would look like.'
- could mean, commission yet another 'neutral freethinking independent'
academic study (!) - send a few people to prison - what? The whole
document is full a phrases that hint at, but don't clearly define
a problem, express a desire for things to be better, but don't
spell out what (pragmatically) they think needs to be done about
I tried colour
coding the boxed to identify - problems and causes, goals, principles
and methods, things to actually do - but I gave up because it
is so full of 'tackle chronic injustices' style phrases.
all that - there is actually a lot of interesting refreshing stuff
in this manifesto - problems acknowledged - principles and beliefs
about how best to approach these issues, and the appropriate roles
for government, and the public and private sectors.