Tory leader Theresa May’s manifesto launch speech today, Thursday, was an attempt to con people into voting Tory with a raft of false promises and vicious attacks dressed up as giveaways. It was also an attempt to further park her tanks on Labour’s lawn.
As she made her speech in Halifax hundreds of people protested outside the venue, rejecting the message of austerity and racism coming from inside.
May had spent the run up to her manifesto launch promising the “greatest extensions of rights and protections” for workers by a Tory government.
She used her speech today to make a set of fake promises that included raising the minimum wage, building “affordable homes”, and investing in the NHS.
May’s plan is that, having shored up the right wing vote, she can take some of Labour’s support. So she took up some of Labour’s rhetoric while pitching herself as a more “responsible” alternative.
May even echoed Labour’s own election slogan “For the many not the few”. She said another Tory government would mean a “stronger, fairer, more prosperous future that works for everyone, not just a privileged few.”
Yet most of the manifesto is guff and rhetoric—with far fewer concrete election promises than are in Labour’s. And many of the promises that are there are predictably nasty.
The Tories want to force anyone who needs social care in their own home to pay for it themselves if they have assets worth more than £100,000. They claim this is an improvement on the current £23,250.
But they want to include the value of someone’s home in their “assets”. That means more people will have to pay for social care.
May said her plan was the “first proper plan to pay for social care”. But the Tories have slashed billions from social care budgets and the social care funding gap has widened to billions.
And plans to give people the “right” to a year of unpaid leave—something most people could never afford—really mean they want to leave it up to ordinary people to look after their parents.
On immigration the Tories are even nastier. They have held down wages for hundreds of thousands of workers, and overseen austerity that has forced millions of people out of their jobs.
But today May blamed migrants for “depression of wages and displacement of jobs”, and kept the Tory promise to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands.
She said she would make it more expensive for bosses to employ migrant workers by raising the Immigration Skills charge to £2,000 a year. This would make it harder for migrants to find work.
Class sizes will still go up, school staff will be reduced, subjects will be dropped from the curriculum, and school buildings will continue to fall into a state of disrepair.NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney
And her manifesto says they will introduce new controls to reduce the number of migrants from the European Union EU.
May also wants to make migrants pay more for health care. The Tory manifesto says they will increase the Immigration Health Surcharge to £600 for migrant workers and £450 for international students.
They want to increase the income threshold for migrant workers who want to bring their partners to Britain. They will “toughen visa requirements” for international students and introduce “new, higher requirements on students who want to stay after their studies.
Promises to increase NHS and schools funding are all smoke and mirrors too. The Tory manifesto promises an increase in NHS funding by £8 billion “in real terms” over the next five years.
But that’s a drop in the ocean compared to the £22 billion worth of cuts the Tories want to push through by 2020.
The Tory manifesto also suggests that “no schools will have their budget cut” due to a new “fairer funding” formula. It even says the Tories will increase schools funding by £4 billion by 2022.
But as the teachers’ NUT union points out, that’s just £1 billion a year at a time when schools face a £3 billion real terms cut in their funding.
“Schools already need £2.2 billion more just to cover the impact of inflation and cost increases imposed by the government since it was elected just two years ago,” said NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney.
“Class sizes will still go up, school staff will be reduced, subjects will be dropped from the curriculum, and school buildings will continue to fall into a state of disrepair.”
The Tories want to pay for their “increase” by taking away universal free school meals from children aged four to seven.
And they want to build 100 more hated “free schools,” which take public funding but are privately run.
Meanwhile May’s promise to increase the minimum wage is actually a retreat from the increase promised by last Tory chancellor George Osborne.
The manifesto says their “living wage” will increase to 60 percent of median earnings by 2020. That frees them up from Osborne’s promise of £9 an hour by 2020. And that was far less than the real living wage, which will be at least £10 an hour by 2020.
Clever-sounding journalists asked clever-sounding questions about whether May’s manifesto was a break from Thatcherism. May replied that she was a “good Conservative”.
And with nasty attacks on the poor it’s clear what that means. The Tory manifesto drops the cap on national insurance, VAT and income tax. And it abandons the “triple lock” which protects the value of the state pension.
A “good Conservative” is always bad for ordinary people—no matter what Theresa May pretends.