Brexit is happening, but big tax cuts aren’t. That’s the short version of the already fairly short Conservative Manifesto. This manifesto does not tell us much about what the Conservatives would do after 31st January 2020, but it does confirm the country faces a big choice in this election on the size of the state it wants.
Labour have doubled the scale of their spending ambitions from their 2017 manifesto, aiming to repeat the closing of the poll gap with the Conservatives seen in the final weeks of the 2017 campaign by committing to a £135 billion increase in the size of the state. The Conservatives reading of those very same weeks, and the dementia tax row their 2017 manifesto triggered, has taken them to a very different conclusion: election campaigns aren’t the moment for risks, tough choices or home truths. As a result it’s worth reflecting on both what is, and what isn’t, in the Tories’ 2019 Manifesto.