The publication of the party manifestos is always a much anticipated event in the election campaign and this time has been worth the wait as all three parties sought to respond to the realities of their polling. The Labour Party sought to reposition itself as the party of fiscal responsibility, meanwhile the Conservative Party made a number of allegedly unfunded spending commitments and sought to hide its ambitions to slim the state.
At this election the manifestos are both more and less important. More because they set out the public opening bids, common ground, redlines and potential deal breakers for coalition talks in the days, and maybe weeks, after May 7th. And less important as at this election it will be highly unlikely that any one party will achieve the votes to have the opportunity to try to implement its manifesto in full.
Increasingly the parties will need to become more honest with the voters and indicate which policies are cast iron commitments and which are aspirations that they will amend, trade or cast aside in coalition negotiations. If multi-party government is to become the new normal for the UK political system, then the manifestos will need to evolve too.
In this week’s Edelman Election Briefing we provide a guide to the key measures from each of the main parties’ manifestos, while also assessing what impact – if any – these might have on the race for Number 10.