Public Policy

May 18, 2017

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017


So now we know.

While the Liberal Democrats want to become the Opposition to change Britain’s future, and the Labour Party has set out its vision to create a country that works for the many, not the few, the Conservative and Unionist Party has now published its plan “for a Stronger Britain and a Prosperous Future”.

First things first, the Conservatives’ document, in contrast to those published before it, contains a single picture. If there was ever any doubt as to whose manifesto we were reading, this picture dispels it. The vision before us is that of Theresa May’s Team. Pedantry as to whether it was all prim and proper of her to sign her Party’s election manifesto as Prime Minister aside, we have set out our at-a-glance summary below. Should you want to compare and contrast against the other parties’ visions, we’ve handily produced summaries of the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats’ manifestos also.

There isn’t actually that much that is new in the Conservatives’ policy document. It is in some ways more of an analysis of the type of Government and values its ultimate author wants to project. The vision and rhetoric that Theresa May has put forward since her first words on the steps of Downing Street on 13 July 2016 have, unsurprisingly, found their way into the manifesto, cementing the defining features of what commentators have come to call Erdington Conservatism:

  • A desire to make government relevant for ordinary people, not least to heal social divisions,
  • A government acting as a force for good, that will take direct action and intervene where markets don’t work for ordinary people, and competition authorities reach the wrong conclusions, and
  • A rhetorical embracing of Britain’s role in the world accompanied by a reality of protecting domestic interests and national champions above all else.

She is able to take that direction, of course, because she is confident that the lack of credible opposition allows her to put forward what the Conservative manifesto calls mainstream – and others might call – socialist policies.

So as to illustrate the much changed political operating environment in which we all now move about, we have gone back to our notes relating to David Cameron’s 2015 election manifesto. We mapped the Conservatives’ policies across axes of free markets versus state intervention and centralisation versus devolution of state power. We have taken the same – subjective – approach to reviewing Theresa May Team’s policies today. The outcome of this exercise is below.

Despite, focusing on how she is trying to move away from political categorisations, the reality is that in most areas apart from housing, May wants or is willing to be more interventionist than her predecessor. This is most apparent around corporate governance and workers’ rights, which supports a re-shaping in perceptions and reach of the Conservative Party. And it extends to other things beyond the chart like a greater willingness to use public procurement to moving the civil service around the UK. That said, in areas where she has shown less personal interest, some of it remains from the Cameron-Osborne days. For example, energy policy is very similar, albeit Theresa May is more concerned about the origin of companies owning critical UK infrastructure.

In any case, as the future May Government will be “guided by what matters to the ordinary, working families of this nation”, businesses should expect and prepare to feel “the force for good that government can and should be.”

To view our full visual summary in a large, printable format, please click here.


Conservative Party Manifesto 2017 FINAL 1

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017 FINAL 2

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017 FINAL 3