The mystery of the missing manifesto commitments

David Cameron has recently projected a series of high profile policy pledges to key progressive constituencies. They haven't made it into the today's manifesto.

A funny thing happened on the way to the election. High profile policy pledges which David Cameron has recently projected to key progressive constituencies as proof that his party had changed did not make it into the election manifesto which he published today.

A fair pay review and a public sector pay ceiling

Last week, Cameron told Guardian readers that his was “the radical party, generating a front-page exclusive by writing that:

“Gordon Brown has signally failed to speak out on fair pay, whether in the public or private sector, and it falls to a radical Conservative party to take a lead. We will set up a fair pay review to investigate pay inequality in the public sector …We will ask the review to consider how to introduce a pay multiple so that no public sector worker can earn over 20 times more than the lowest paid person in their organisation”.

Having welcomed this on the Fabian Next Left blog when announced, today I noted that not only the public sector pay ceiling proposal but the fair pay review itself had vanished from the Tory manifesto.

(The Guardian also had to prominently correct his claim that the London living wage was introduced by a Tory administration, which inherited the policy from Ken Livingstone).

Quashing historic convictions for consensual gay sex

After a difficult week for the Consevatives following shadow home secretary Chris Grayling suggesting that B&B owners should have been allowed to turn away gay couples, the Pink News newspaper was positive about David Cameron’s recommitment to gay rights on Saturday, including making the welcome step of supporting the quashing of convictions for consensual homosexual activity which has since been legalised.

Today, as the newspaper reports that the policy is also missing from the party manifesto, activist Peter Tatchell says it is evidence that gay rights were an “afterthought” for the party.

(This may, however, paradoxically suggest that Chris Grayling has been an unwitting agent of a significant step forward on gay rights which his party may well not have taken without his intervention).

220,000 new school places

On the Conservatives’ flagship public services reform, ex-BBC education corespondent Mike Baker has blogged noting that the manifesto does not contain the Tory commitment to 220,000 new school places of earlier policy statements.

“Perhaps it was just the editing but one key promise did not make it through from the earlier draft manifesto to the final bound version: the promise to create 220,000 new school places through their Swedish-style school reforms. Although the Tories insist this is because that figure is a minimum not a target, its absence does suggest a sensitivity about the costs of the policy.”

Baker also writes that “The education chapter also seems to assume it is vulgar to mention money as there is not is a word about funding”.

Tory education adviser Sam Freedman reports via twitter that the policy remains intact: “220,000 figure was always a floor not a target – the commitment to that number of places hasn’t been dropped”.

A “floor not a target” means the commitment is to at least 220,000 places and perhaps more, so the decision not to make the numerical commitment part of the manifesto remains mysterious, and may also reflect a reluctance to be held to account over the promised figure at the end of the term were the party elected.

The overall pattern creates the possibility that, in his fifth year as party leader, this may have been something of an “essay crisis manifesto” for David Cameron.

Were progressive Conservative policy on pay and gay rights being made on the hoof for media purposes even as and after the manifesto had been completed and was being printed in order to have something shiny and new to offer Guardian and Pink News readers?

Indeed, a decent effort can be made to carbon date the manifesto production and late policy-making timetable, with six pages early in the book covering the detailed row between the parties over national insurance last week, but no detail at all of the Tory “marriage tax break” which goes to some of those married couples living in a “sole breadwinner” household, details of which were also published on Saturday.

Cameron’s claim to a progressive pitch remains contested, but the mystery of the missing manifesto commitments does suggest that he was scrambling for ways to re-establish his ProgCon credentials well into injury time.

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

13 Responses to “The mystery of the missing manifesto commitments”

  1. electionbear

    *sigh* Less haste, more speed I suppose. I may or may not have written about this on my blog 3 hours ago, also covering the support for Gaming industry flip flop… 🙂

  2. Robert

    Perhaps when the Conservatives have finally made up their promises – sorry made up their minds on their promises – they might like to ask the electoral officers to staple an addenda/errata slip to all our our ballot papers on polling day?

  3. dizzy

    This post is as silly as me doing a post saying “the missing manifesto promises from the 2005 Labour manifesto” and then pointing out that Labour didn’t tell people it was going nationalise some banks etc. Only an absolute partisan robot would believe that a party manifesto is all a party would do.

  4. AnyoneButCameron

    RT @ leftfootfwd The mystery of the missing manifesto commitments http://bit.ly/cRv6YO AnyoneButCameron: http://bit.ly/citL3M

Comments are closed.