The ConservativeHome manifesto, first advertised on this site in February, begins publication today. As important as what is in it is what is not. Readers will scour the text in vain for a solution to the problem of Islamist extremism, a view on whether the aid budget should rise in real terms, or a plan to lower energy bills for consumers. Nor are we under any illusion that most voters will read it. Few read manifestos in any event. Even fewer will read this one.
There is a rationale for these omissions – and for our focus on themes which though few are vital. The three foundations of a free society that matter most are the chance to own your own home; work that enables you to get on and not just get by, and having enough to plan for the years ahead. In other words: Homes, Jobs and Savings – the three words stamped on the masthead of ConservativeHome.
Progress has been made under this Government. None the less, the foundations on which mass middle class prosperity was built are crumbling. The proportion of Britons owning their homes has been falling for over a decade. Wage rates for ordinary people are stagnant and undermined by inflation. Household debt is at record levels. The historical trends that transformed our society have gone into reverse.
This manifesto sets out a programme for more homes, better jobs and higher savings – accompanied by plans for economic and political reform. It follows that important areas of public policy are not included. Welfare reform, for example, would require a chapter all of its own, and its exclusion is a consequence of the manifesto’s concentration of vision. Not everyone will agree with this rationale, but there it is.
Though we know that very few people will read it, we hope that certain people will do so. Since we are supportive of the Conservative Party though independent of it, we hope that these will include those who are drafting the next Conservative manifesto. But the proposals we make are available for others to advance, too. If they include other political parties, so much the better.