Daily Archives: April 12, 2010

On the Labour manifesto:
Britain’s Labour party banks on, er, bank regulation – The FT
Labour’s manifesto launch – Adam Boulton on Sky News
Labour is not dead yet - Michael White in The Guardian
The Labour manifesto is very Ed Miliband - Jackie Ashley in The Guardian
The Gordon Brown manifesto blends the future and the past – The Telegraph
Brown’s thin air manifesto – Peter Hoskin on Spectator Coffee House

On the election:
The welfare state is a birthright – James Purnell in The Times
Tactical voting could make this an interesting election – Lord Tebbit in The Telegraph
The power of undecideds in this election – Iain Martin in the Wall St Journal
‘Lambrini ladies’: Why the election turns them off – The Guardian

When it comes to manifestos and election posters, editing mistakes can be very expensive.

Although the Labour manifesto makes no new spending pledges, it certainly makes new commitments to spending. In the case of pensions, around £2.1bn to be precise. 

Jim Pickard

Peter Mandelson has delicately washed his hands of last week’s Gene Hunt poster fiasco, which saw Labour compare David Cameron with the iconic detective in Life on Mars with the slogan: “Don’t let him take us back to the eighties.” 

When judging this Labour manifesto, one interesting counter-factual is imagining what it would have looked like had brave Gordon Brown called an election in 2007.

Apart from the economic rhetoric and banking measures, the main difference is the total absence of goodies. Santa’s sack would have been a lot more full in 2007. 

If you are looking for the headline amid the avalanche of pledges and promises – some significant, many dubious – in Labour’s manifesto it is that the party has rediscovered its faith in social democracy. The thread running through Gordon Brown’s prospectus is that government makes the difference.

My doubts lie in the balance between supportive (“active” in Peter Mandelson’s favourite phrase) and suffocating government. Labour has it broadly right on the economy and mostly wrong on the shape of public services. 

Jim Pickard

Lord Mandelson has just described the manifesto as “Blair plus”. But how radical is it? We have trawled through the document (70 pages of it) and have found a few new policies and a few old ones dressed up to look new. 

The podcasts will be recorded every Monday and Friday for the duration of the campaign – see the full list in the UK election podcast archive.

Jim Pickard

I ran into a Tory frontbencher about a week ago who said he had had been asked to go through his department with a fine toothcomb to find potential savings which could be made after the general election.

I asked if he had seen John Redwood’s blog suggesting that cuts of 10 per cent could be instigated without too much pain. He replied that he had got close to that number without too much difficulty.

We didn’t write it up as a news story because it seemed like an obvious and sensible thing for the Conservatives to be doing.

The FT house view is that politicians would be better off coming clean about the deficit – and need for sweeping departmental cuts – rather than dancing around on the head of a national insurance pin. In private, Labour and the Tories alike must be drawing up the slide rule over which programmes, benefits or salary bills to cut and when: surely?

Don’t expect the manifesto from either party to recognise this, however. The troops are still in their trenches; the real fiscal war hasn’t happened yet. 

Jim Pickard

Labour say not: the premises are still owned by the company that built them. Is that a good excuse? Surely it’s either an NHS hospital or it’s not.

The Tories say have invoked “Cabinet Office General Election Guidance 2010″, page 38:

’1. Neither Ministers, nor any other Parliamentary candidates, should involve Government establishments or offices (such as Jobcentres) in the General Election campaign by visiting them for electioneering purposes.

’2. In the case of NHS property, decisions are for the relevant NHS Trust but should visits be permitted to, for example, hospitals, the Department of Health and the Scottish Executive advise that there should be no disruption to services and the same facilities should be available to other candidates. In any case, it is advised that Election meetings should not be permitted on NHS premises’. 

Jim Pickard

The debates don’t happen until Thursday – we will be live blogging – but I have already seen Friday’s headlines in the FT Westminster crystal ball. These are the pundits’ shock conclusions:

The Guardian 

Advice to the party leaders for the TV debates from Alan Schroeder, US expert – FT
Tories plan to sell RBS stake by 2012 -  FT
Gordon Brown recites poetry to Patrick Wintour – The Guardian
The prime minister pledges not to lift income tax (no such promise on VAT) as manifesto is launched - BBC
Politicians are cheating the voters by ignoring ‘DEBT!’, says Ben Brogan – The Telegraph
Samantha Cameron ‘bored by politics’, says her mother – The Mirror