Tory manifesto fails against ‘progressive conservative’ tests

The Conservative manifesto falls short against "twelve tests" set by Progressive Conservatives. It contains only 3 of the tests. The Labour manifesto has 5.

The Conservative manifesto falls short against “twelve tests” set by the ‘Progressive Conservatism’ project at the Demos think tank. The Tory document contains only three of the tests compared to five in the Labour manifesto. Gordon Brown said yesterday, “The future will be progressive or Conservative but it will not be both.”

Of the twelve tests, the Conservative manifesto includes:

• plans to “introduce a pupil premium – extra funding for children from disadvantaged backgrounds”;

• a pledge to “keep the EU’s doors open to those countries, including turkey, that wish to join, conditional on the rigorous application of the accession criteria”;

• proposals to “replace the existing, invisible and unaccountable police authorities and make the police accountable to a directly-elected individual who will set policing priorities for local communities”;

A generous interpretation might also include the Tory proposals to “publish all items of spending over £25,000 online” but the Demos pledge called for all public spending to be published online.

The Labour manifesto contains the Turkey pledge but goes further by:

• freezing inheritance tax thresholds until 2014-15 rather than raising the threshold to £1 million;

• ruling out marriage tax breaks like the Tories proposal to “recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system”;

• promising a free vote in Parliament on reducing the voting age to 16; and

• increasing frontline spending on childcare.

‘Progressive conservative’ proposals featuring in neither manifesto include tolling all motorways, replacing A-Levels with the International Baccalaureate, abolishing child benefit for families earning over £50,000; and capitalising housing benefit.

Writing for Left Foot Forward last year, the head of the project Jonty Olliff-Cooper said:

“In his victory speech in 1997 Tony Blair announced he had been elected as New Labour and would govern as New Labour. Cameron aspires to be elected as a progressive conservative. The Progressive Conservatism Project intends to make sure he is held to his promise to govern as one as well.”

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