A little late, but with thanks to the Daily Telegraph.
Key economic policies include:
• A one year public sector pay freeze in 2011 (excluding the one million lowest paid workers) Note no word as to what those lower paid workers may get as a rise...
• Bringing forward the date at which the state pension age starts to rise to 66, although it will not be sooner than 2016 for men and 2020 for women In other words, after the next election.
• Stopping tax credits to families with incomes over £50,000 Actually, I hate to say it, but that is fair – although I should point out I get no credits anyway.
• Cutting spending on Child Trust Funds for all but the poorest third of families and families with disabled children Not sure I agree with this one – but I can’t talk, as no way I will ever take advantage of this.
• Capping the biggest public sector pensions above £50,000 They get that much? I presume they mean per annum, not the pension pot.
• A five per cent pay cut for Ministers followed by a five-year freeze, and a 10 per cent reduction in the number of MPs Well – why not reform the whole package – maybe that will come later.
• Reduce welfare dependency The devil here is in the detail – and I need to study that carefully. I still remember the “shirker society” side of Thatcherism, and that was only partially true.
Specific health policies include:
• Scrapping all politically-motivated targets Is there any other type – ALL health care targets have a political motivation , in that they are designed to make it look as if something is being done.
• Putting more detailed NHS performance data online No, no, no – that means more beaurocracy. More administrators, not less, and less money to health care.
• Improving cancer and stroke survival rates How – preemptive care, financing the new drugs, how?
• Enabling patients to rate hospitals and doctors They do that anyway – I’ve seen “performance satisfaction questionnaires” and I’ve seen better ones designed by “A”-level students!
• Giving anyone the power to choose any healthcare provider that meets NHS standards If they can get a bed – do this, and anyone can go anywhere. Besides, who decides if the standards are adequately policed?
• Putting patients in charge of their own health records Sounds nice – but we are not the experts in this.
• Opening up the NHS to new independent and voluntary sector providers In other words, privatization.
• Linking GPs' pay to the quality of results they deliver As opposed to the hours they are forced to put in in underesourced clinics?
Specific education policies include:
• Raising the entry requirement for taxpayer-funded primary teacher training and requiring new graduates to have at least a 2:2 in their degree to get state-funded training I thought they had to have a 2.2 to get into a PGCE course anyway?
• Paying the student loan repayments for top maths and science graduates while they remain teachers Student loans are the worst possible thing any government has done – and they should all be scrapped. I favour a “graduate tax” to cover the costs.
• Giving teachers the strongest possible protection from false accusations As opposed to giving them the power to discipline?
• Strengthening home-school behaviour contracts They don’t work.
• Establishing a simple reading test at the age of six That is what the old KS1 tests were designed to do – and they were universally hated.
• Reforming the National Curriculum Hmm
• Overhauling Key Stage 2 tests and league tables How about scrapping them and trusting the teachers to assess their pupils?
• Allowing all state schools to offer high quality international examinations You mean fund the International Baccalaureate? That’s an expensive puppy – and involves much more than just exams.
• Giving parents the power to save schools threatened by closure By taking them over?
• Extra funding for children from disadvantaged backgrounds That might help – if it was matched by funding for the schools to provide after school facilities for those kids.
• Providing 10,000 university places this year, paid for by giving graduates incentives to pay back their loans early In the current climate, they can’t even get a job!
The Conservatives' tax plans include:
• Raising the Inheritance Tax threshold to £1 million Not gonna affect me...
• Raising the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first-time buyers That buys a one bedroom flat in the seedier parts of London – useless.
• Cutting corporation tax So they can invest in their employees? Some might, some won’t.
• Cutting employer National Insurance contributions for first ten employees of new businesses Hmmm
• Floor under landfill tax until 2020 Interesting choice of words – it implies a minimum, but not a maximum...
• Reform Air Passenger Duty Oh please do – this tax is hated.
• A word on the proposed £150 Married Couples Allowance – that’s £3 a week, barely enough to buy two coffees at Starbucks. Derisatory and insulting – as well as demeaning to strong couples who are not married.
Specific European Union policies include:
• A full opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights
• Greater protection against EU encroachment
• Restoring national control over social and employment legislation
This goes against the way the European Union is going – so is this the first stage of an exit policy?
Specific defence policies include:
• Doubling the operational bonus for troops serving in Afghanistan That’s from £200 to £400, right?
• Ensuring that Forces' families and veterans are taken care of They should be anyway.
• Tracking and monitoring veterans' mental health after they leave the Armed Forces How about the third part – treating the problems?
• Launching a Strategic Defence Review A given for all governments
• Maximising efficiency in the Ministry of Defence Cuts?
• Streamlining the procurement process Cuts?
The party's five major foreign policy themes are:
• Creating a National Security Council How does this relate to the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
• Committing to the transatlantic alliance We like Obama
• Deepening of alliances beyond Europe and North America We really like Obama
• Reforming older institutions such as the UN and making effective use of new ones such as G20 We kinda like the other guys too
• Upholding our own values abroad So long as they let us have our way
Key transport policies include:
• Building a high-speed rail link connecting London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds with the Continent They like the idea – it’s the route that’s the issue, specifically...
• Blocking moves for a third runway at Heathrow Airport And plan a major Rail Terminal with the high speed link instead
• Blocking plans for second runways at Stansted and Gatwick airports Gatwick cannot be done for another 10 years – which leaves Stansted.
• Improving Britain's railways After all, it was our party that ruined them with privatization.
• Cutting congestion and making Britain's roads safer How?
• Making local transport greener How?
Voters will be able to elect police commissioners who will hold chief constables to account for the performance of their forces, the manifesto says. Commissioners would be responsible for “setting the budget and the strategy for local police forces”, while the police retain “operational independence”.
So we become like the States, with elected police chiefs and the police under them? Over there, that can make the police a political animal – as shown brilliantly in shows like Hill Street Blues. The police need to be above politics, not embroiled in them.
The manifesto says immigration has “enriched our nation” and the economy needs “the brightest and the best”.
But it says immigration is too high and promises to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands” a year, without giving any more details.
The Conservatives promise an annual limit on immigration, new curbs on unskilled workers, and “transitional controls” on new European Union members.
But with other EU nationals guaranteed freedom of entry, a Tory government would have no way of restricting European workers.
There’s also a lot of opposition from former Commonwealth countries, who see this as an infringement of their rites. This will be a real hot potato in the coming weeks.
Verdict – still not convinced. Next.