LONDON — Even the smoothest election campaigns can fall flat over a policy snafu.
In the U.K.’s 2017 campaign, the 88-page Tory manifesto tanked Theresa May’s race, despite the former prime minister being on course for a comfortable victory before its publication. By contrast, the Labour manifesto, which was leaked to the press, gave its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a boost as his policy platform proved unexpectedly popular.
In the run-up to this year’s December 12 vote, the Conservatives played it safe, with a shorter manifesto of just 59 pages and few surprises. Their policy document contains nothing as remotely controversial as May’s so-called “dementia tax” to tackle the social care crisis.
Boris Johnson’s main pledge is delivering Brexit by January 31 to restore trust in politics and focus on “the people’s priorities” — the NHS, schools and the police, all of which faced severe cuts under the previous Conservative-led governments. The Tories also ruled out extending the Brexit transition period — currently due to end in December 2020 — which strengthens Johnson’s commitment to pulling the U.K. out of the European Union but leaves very little time to negotiate a new arrangement with his country’s largest trading partner.
In another move designed to appeal to voters who backed Leave in the U.K.’s 2016 referendum, the Conservatives have promised to decrease net migration, but without committing to a figure.
Labour, meanwhile, doubled-down on their plan from the last election, which was widely seen as the most left-wing policy program by a British party in a generation. Their manifesto, which runs to 107 pages, was pitched as a “radical plan” to transform Britain by tackling inequality,