STEPHEN GLOVER: Tory manifesto is a sober response to Jeremy Corbyn’s reckless moonshine 

Last week Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party produced what was almost certainly the most outlandish and unbelievable manifesto in British political history.

That Alice-in-Wonderland document promised an immediate increase in day-to-day public expenditure of some £83 billion a year — about ten per cent of the existing total — in addition to splurging fantastic sums on capital projects.

The Conservative manifesto, launched yesterday, offers a much more restrained increase of about £3 billion annually on current spending, plus some £100 billion in capital expenditure over the lifetime of the next Parliament. 

Even by the standards of ¿pork barrel¿ politics (an American term to describe cynical inducements cooked up for electoral advantage), Labour has plumbed a new low in this campaign. Party leader Mr Corbyn is pictured at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London

Even by the standards of ¿pork barrel¿ politics (an American term to describe cynical inducements cooked up for electoral advantage), Labour has plumbed a new low in this campaign. Party leader Mr Corbyn is pictured at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London

Even by the standards of ‘pork barrel’ politics (an American term to describe cynical inducements cooked up for electoral advantage), Labour has plumbed a new low in this campaign. Party leader Mr Corbyn is pictured at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London

This latter figure is about a quarter of Labour’s.

In fact, the disparity is so great that, according to one respected economics expert, for every pound promised by the Tories in extra public spending, Labour are pledging £28.

We may be practically certain the party’s spendthrift would-be Chancellor, John McDonnell, will criticise Tory plans as niggardly, and probably as a continuation of austerity.

I believe the electorate will take a different view. People can recognise electoral moonshine when they are presented with it. 

And, one might add, crude and probably undeliverable political bribes calculated to win votes.

In what was evidently a robotic pre-response to a manifesto he hadn¿t had time to read, Mr Corbyn tweeted yesterday afternoon: ¿This is a billionaire¿s manifesto. They bought it. You¿ll pay for it.¿ That really is tommyrot

In what was evidently a robotic pre-response to a manifesto he hadn¿t had time to read, Mr Corbyn tweeted yesterday afternoon: ¿This is a billionaire¿s manifesto. They bought it. You¿ll pay for it.¿ That really is tommyrot

In what was evidently a robotic pre-response to a manifesto he hadn’t had time to read, Mr Corbyn tweeted yesterday afternoon: ‘This is a billionaire’s manifesto. They bought it. You’ll pay for it.’ That really is tommyrot

One key difference between the two parties at the moment is that Labour is trailing in the polls (in some of them by an ever-widening margin) and is increasingly desperate to offer anything and everything it can come up with in order to close the gap.

Yesterday it was at it again. In a bid to overshadow the publication of the Tory manifesto, Mr McDonnell announced plans to ‘pay back’ three million women who may believe they were deprived of their pension entitlement as a result of the raising of pension age.

They may well have a good case, though it has been overturned in the courts. But Labour has not explained how it would fund the £58 billion cost of its largesse. 

And, of course, it comes on the top of other extravagant uncosted pledges made by the party.

Mr Johnson¿s argument is a powerful one: unlike Mr Corbyn, he has prepared (though I am getting a bit tired of the image, borrowed by Michael Gove yesterday) an ¿oven-ready deal¿. The Tories can end the nightmare of Brexit

Mr Johnson¿s argument is a powerful one: unlike Mr Corbyn, he has prepared (though I am getting a bit tired of the image, borrowed by Michael Gove yesterday) an ¿oven-ready deal¿. The Tories can end the nightmare of Brexit

Mr Johnson’s argument is a powerful one: unlike Mr Corbyn, he has prepared (though I am getting a bit tired of the image, borrowed by Michael Gove yesterday) an ‘oven-ready deal’. The Tories can end the nightmare of Brexit

These women are being added to the growing list of people whom Mr McDonnell is trying to bribe in a frantic attempt to win votes. 

Students are being wooed with free grants. Public sector workers would pocket an immediate five per cent pay rise. The whole country would enjoy free broadband.

Perhaps unfettered access to cash machines once a month, or a paid-for holiday to the Seychelles every five years, will be the next rabbit John McDonnell whips out of his apparently bottomless hat.

Even by the standards of ‘pork barrel’ politics (an American term to describe cynical inducements cooked up for electoral advantage), Labour has plumbed a new low in this campaign.

By contrast, the Tories have established a decent lead in the polls, and feel no need to splash the cash. 

They don’t want to offer any hostages to fortune by making far-fetched undertakings, or by opening up controversial issues — as Theresa May disastrously did over social care in the 2017 campaign.

The idea that stamp duty below £500,000 might be scrapped has also bitten the dust, at any rate for the time being, and the hint that inheritance tax might be cut has also been forgotten [File photo]

The idea that stamp duty below £500,000 might be scrapped has also bitten the dust, at any rate for the time being, and the hint that inheritance tax might be cut has also been forgotten [File photo]

The idea that stamp duty below £500,000 might be scrapped has also bitten the dust, at any rate for the time being, and the hint that inheritance tax might be cut has also been forgotten [File photo]

So those looking for fireworks in this manifesto will be disappointed. This is a solid, sober, practical document — and therefore one in which voters may be inclined to place some faith.

Mercifully, there is no attempt to win the votes of any interest group by offering preferential treatment. 

It comes across as a realistic plan for the whole country, as Boris Johnson suggested by using the term ‘one nation’ at the launch.

Its most important promise, of course, isn’t a financial enticement. It is to ‘get Brexit done’. 

This is the title of the manifesto. Remainers will surely concede the Tories have a plausible plan of action, even if they don’t like it.

We may be practically certain the party¿s spendthrift would-be Chancellor, John McDonnell, will criticise Tory plans as niggardly, and probably as a continuation of austerity

We may be practically certain the party¿s spendthrift would-be Chancellor, John McDonnell, will criticise Tory plans as niggardly, and probably as a continuation of austerity

We may be practically certain the party’s spendthrift would-be Chancellor, John McDonnell, will criticise Tory plans as niggardly, and probably as a continuation of austerity

Mr Johnson’s argument is a powerful one: unlike Mr Corbyn, he has prepared (though I am getting a bit tired of the image, borrowed by Michael Gove yesterday) an ‘oven-ready deal’. The Tories can end the nightmare of Brexit.

And when that happens — but only if they win the election — Mr Johnson believes a wave of energy will be released that will allow this country to get on with its life. Investment from home and abroad will flow back.

It is an attractive prospect for many, and one which overwhelmingly remains the most important pledge both of the Conservatives’ manifesto and of their election campaign.

Among specific proposals that stand out, the one to add 50,000 nurses to the workforce by 2023 is eminently sensible. Some 250,000 extra childcare places also seems a practical, though relatively modest, measure.

On tax, there are no great shocks, and some disappointments for the better off. 

A pledge not to raise income tax, National Insurance or VAT during the lifetime of the next Parliament will be welcome to many, though it is hardly radical.

Some of Boris Johnson’s promises made during the Tory leadership contest have been ditched. 

One such vow was to raise the threshold at which people start paying tax at 40 per cent from £50,000 to £80,000.

The idea that stamp duty below £500,000 might be scrapped has also bitten the dust, at any rate for the time being, and the hint that inheritance tax might be cut has also been forgotten.

Here one might speculate that the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, has been at work behind the scenes. His more cautious nature may have reined in Boris’s wilder inclinations.

They don¿t want to offer any hostages to fortune by making far-fetched undertakings, or by opening up controversial issues ¿ as Theresa May disastrously did over social care in the 2017 campaign

They don¿t want to offer any hostages to fortune by making far-fetched undertakings, or by opening up controversial issues ¿ as Theresa May disastrously did over social care in the 2017 campaign

They don’t want to offer any hostages to fortune by making far-fetched undertakings, or by opening up controversial issues — as Theresa May disastrously did over social care in the 2017 campaign

However, it should be pointed out that the PM’s pledges to increase police numbers by 20,000 officers in England and Wales, and to boost spending on the NHS, have already been costed, and are not included in the manifesto’s relatively modest figures for higher day-to-day expenditure.

What is inarguable is that this is a programme for the entire country, which offers more to the poor (though less than Labour’s feckless blow-out) than to the rich.

In what was evidently a robotic pre-response to a manifesto he hadn’t had time to read, Mr Corbyn tweeted yesterday afternoon: ‘This is a billionaire’s manifesto. They bought it. You’ll pay for it.’ That really is tommyrot.

Two worries: one is that although the target of an annual maximum net immigration figure of 100,000 has been dropped — because the Tories never got close to achieving it — there are dangers in the new approach of having no target at all. I hope Boris is fully aware of the fears of millions of people about uncontrolled immigration.

My other concern is over defence expenditure. The manifesto undertakes to meet existing obligations, but it doesn’t address the fact that the existing defence budget cannot afford all the commitments already made. Boris has ducked this issue and, if elected, will have to confront it.

All in all, though, this is a grown-up and sensible manifesto from a party which, unlike Labour, is capable of governing prudently in the interests of the whole country.

On the basis of the Tory and Labour manifestos, I believe voters may come to the conclusion that, as between the two party leaders, the supposedly unreliable Boris Johnson is more to be trusted than the allegedly responsible — but, in truth, nakedly reckless — Jeremy Corbyn.

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