Thursday 15 April 2010

Clear Blue Water

I haven't read all three main party manifestos - but as I've noted elsewhere, that shouldn't prevent me from discussing them intelligently. After all, almost everyone else discussing them won't have read them either.*

The good thing is that, despite many comments for so long that the parties are all the same, the manifestos are very different. They may all be full of bland comments about improvements and fairness, and and claims about sorting out finances, but no-one really expects them to be taken seriously. What is more important is the themes, the direction of travel.

The Conservative and Labour manifestos differ substantially and therefore offer voters a real choice. The Conservative manifesto, ultimately, believes that people make things happen and the State should be there to provide essentials and a support where necessary - with mre emphasis on the support aspects than previously seen. The Labour manifesto believes that people can’t be trusted and the State – the centre – has to do things. This contrast is an old one and goes to the heart of the differences in the two parties, and will influence how the parties would behave if they won the election. Inevitably, given the relatively small influence Governments have over events, their choices are limited. But where they have choices they will tend to follow the style set out in the manifesto. The Lib Dem manifesto is a soft version of Labour's, but with more specific figures on Government finances (or more made up figures, depending on your point of view).

The Lib Dems deserve credit for highlighting the issue of public finances more than the other two, but given the lack of information on what's really going on with the deficit and expenditure it is hard to take any figures seriously. Again, what matters is the approach, the direction of travel. The Conservatives want to promote private sector growth and to cut public sector waste more quickly than Labour; The Lib Dems follow both approaches.

A couple of other thoughts: Labour wins the prize for the most stylish cover (even if it is redolent of soviet era collectivism) and the Lib Dem manifesto is incredibly hard to collate and analyse.

* In case of interest, they can be found here:
Lib Dem.

Two thoughts from searching for these:
- None of them were the top item on the results list;
- The Lib Dem site crashed my network link. I assume it's personal.

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