Why do the manifestos matter? A tiny percentage of voters read them and Nigel Farage confessed he failed to get through UKIP’s 2010 effort.
For the smaller parties they matter because in the tightest General Election in decades the manifestos will form the basis of post-election negotiations in the likely event of a hung parliament. Labour and the Conservatives will be hoping that, with only 21 days until 7 May, they can find that golden bullet to break the deadlock in the polls.
Redwood considers some key points for the property industry.
The first part of the week was dedicated to what the BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson dubbed ‘political cross-dressing’, with the two main parties switching roles in an effort to tackle core criticisms. Labour used the launch of its Britain Can Be Better manifesto on Monday to try to persuade voters it can be a responsible custodian of the economy, whereas the Prime Minister sought to position the Conservatives as, “the real party of the working people”, with a lot of talk about the right-to-buy at the launch.
The Green Party will hope measures outlined in its manifesto, launched on Tuesday and dubbed ‘a peaceful revolution’, will go some way to soften criticism that both the party and its policies lack economic credibility. The decision by the SNP to launch a business manifesto on Monday was a conscious move to target Scottish business votes.
Yesterday’s launch of the Liberal Democrat manifesto is perhaps the clearest indication of the party’s ambition to retain its role as a coalition partner, with Nick Clegg presenting the party as the only one that can, “give a heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour one.”
For UKIP, who also launched its manifesto yesterday, this was an opportunity to cast aside the demons of past manifestos and position the party as a serious, common sense alternative.
-An extension of the right-to-buy policy to allow 1.3 million housing association tenants the opportunity to buy their homes dominated the headlines on Tuesday. Other manifesto pledges included:
-Housing: Delivery of 200,000 new starter homes for first-time buyers and 275,000 additional affordable homes by 2020
-Development: Creation of a £1bn brownfield regeneration fund
-Tax: No inheritance tax on family homes valued at £1m or less
-Retail: Further support for Business Improvement Districts
-Infrastructure: Continued commitment to both HS2 and HS3
-Creation of a “Blue Belt” with a network of marine conservation zones
As expected, the manifesto includes a commitment to implement the findings of the Lyons Report and restates Labour’s commitment to build 200,000 homes by 2020. Notable pledges include:
-Devolution: Further devolved powers and funding to city regions and local authorities, included in an English Devolution Act
-Development: “Use it or lose it” measures to tackle land banking
-Retail: A commitment to cut and freeze business rates for 1.5 million small businesses
-Infrastructure: Introduction of an independent National Infrastructure Commission to plan for “Britain’s long-term economic needs”
-Support for the construction of HS2 and a commitment to expanding rail links in the North
-A “swift decision” on where to accommodate airport expansion
A commitment to remove permitted development rights for converting office-to-resi as well as a commitment to build 300,000 new homes by 2020 make up the main headlines in the Liberal Democrat manifesto. Also included is:
-Development: A priority to develop on brownfield and town centre sites first
-Sustainability: Measures to boost sustainable travel, including £10 per person annual spending on cycling
-Infrastructure: A commitment to Garden Cities
-Funding to enhance rail infrastructure and a commitment to HS2
In keeping with the Conservatives and Labour, tackling the housing crisis is high on the UKIP agenda. Its manifesto reflects a very different approach, however:
-Development: Scrapping the NPPF in favour of “fresh national planning guidelines that will prioritise brownfield sites for new housing and genuinely protect the Green Belt”
-Introduction of local referenda on large scale developments
-Removal of stamp duty on the first £250,000 of new homes built on brownfield sites
-Commitment to build one million homes on brownfield land by 2020
-Removal of “Government-imposed minimum housing numbers”
-Proposals to merge planning and building control departments in local authorities
As with UKIP, a commitment to removing the NPPF is included in the Green manifesto, alongside measures to significantly boost house building and renewable energy resources. Highlights include:
-Development: Scrapping the NPPF
-Sustainability: A requirement for local authorities to set a local carbon plan outlining how they will meet emissions reduction targets
-Infrastructure: An outright ban on all fracking activity
-Housing: Scrapping the New Homes Bonus
-Providing 500,000 social rented homes by 2020