Stephanie Flanders: there’s nothing new in it. Everything carefully costed, trying to reinforce the message that they are the safe pair of hands.
The IFS has a note but it mostly reflects on the past 13 years (better public services, worse efficiency, some of that probably unavoidable, the future difficult) in a way that is fairly obvious. They also have a fairly robust attack on Lib Dem Tax Claims that ‘the poor pay the most’. I think this point of theirs is worth making:
The first key point to note is that benefits and tax credits account for £6,453 of the £11,105 average gross income of the poorest fifth of households. Their original income – in other words, private income from sources such as earnings, private pensions and investments, but not that from benefits and tax credits – was an average of £4,651. So the poorest fifth of households were clearly net beneficiaries from the tax and benefit system, to the tune of £2,151 a year, on average.
Ryan Avent of the Economist wonders how all the promises will be paid for. Jeremy Warner also asks where the money will come from, adding “What, no money for it? What about that nice Mervyn King at the Bank of England, ready and willing with the printing presses?” If things get really bad, why not ….
But Bagehot argues that “this manifesto doesn’t strike me as the work of a party that has given up the ghost.”
Ben Chu summarises it beautifully in a way that chimes with mine: “we pledge to micromanage your lives” and gives some splendid examples.
Jonathan Freedland doubts that it is a game changer, but highlights some Blairite moves:
Blairite measures include a return to the asbo agenda, with promises of injunctions for harassed neighbours, and a bid to make every hospital a “Foundation hospital” even though that was precisely the Blairite notion that once so incensed Chancellor Brown. Some will like the idea of successful schools or police forces taking over failing ones
But the public voted for Blair, not Blairism, whatever they thought that was. Polly, of course, does not think that Blairism is there at all. Her column is the biggest cheer for this manifesto. Is everyone reading the same document? Yes – for her, this is a compliment:
“Turn to the back of the document and there are 50 mostly decent things that Labour would do and the Conservatives would not. Dig deeper for details, and there are rich pickings for social democrats”
But for many people those are 50 interfering busybody things that they suspect the government can’t afford. Freedland is right: no game changer. Not even if they did 100 mostly decent things …
(update on another issue I can’t be bothered to put in a new post: Krugman has proper doubts about any policy that calls for banks to be allowed to fail. Like with TonyJackson – see earlier post – a cleaning out of shareholders is more popular)