Racing to the finish line… Conservative Manifesto 2024

With the General Election campaign so far plagued by gaffes and missteps, the Conservative manifesto launch saw Rishi Sunak’s last-ditch attempt to shift the polls away from what can only be described as disastrous. Before manifesto week, a Labour victory was nearing inevitable, but recent polling suggests the battle is now on for the Conservatives to even hit that 100 MP mark, and – remarkable though it is to utter these words – cement its chances of being the second largest parliamentary party and official opposition.  

It’s against this backdrop that Rishi Sunak unveiled his manifesto at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix. 

But far from being revved and ready – it appears the Conservative engine hasn’t yet ignited.  And time is running out as the clock ticks down to Polling Day.  

Despite last-minute efforts to cram in as much as possible into the 76-page document (albeit cutting and dicing existing announcements in the most part), it all still feels a little bit safe, and does not offer the clear policy platform needed to secure a seismic shift in the Conservative Party’s fortunes. In short, today’s launch shows there’s very little left in the tank when it comes to new ideas, and an uninspiring recent track record to fall back on.   

Instead of a total reversal in fortunes, the Conservative top team will be hoping for just a modest gear change to save at least some Tory MPs on 4th July, and reduce the size of the Labour majority. A defeatist attitude, yes – but a fitting one, with reports rumbling that a rebel manifesto from the Tory-right could be launched next week, should Rishi Sunak’s own manifesto launch fall flat in the coming days.  

With a raft of Conservative parliamentary candidates on the precipice of losing a job, and future leadership hopefuls smelling blood as they politely clap on the PM from the sidelines at Silverstone, the next three weeks remain a fight for survival for Rishi Sunak. Who could blame him for looking forward to a sunny summer holiday in California…   

But before we hit fast-forward to the election results, let’s take a closer look at today’s manifesto pledges.  

At the first ITV head-to-head debate, we saw Rishi Sunak claim that a Labour Government would result in a £2,000 tax rise per household. Despite this statistic since being disputed, it certainly landed blows to Starmer in the first debate (12 to be precise), where Sir Keir came out with a pretty tepid 49% favourability rating. A disappointing result for Labour on the eve of a landslide election victory. 

And so, with this manifesto launch, the Conservatives are keen to once again draw battle lines based on taxation: Labour equals high tax, Conservative equals low tax. A time proven strategy, if delivered correctly.  

The manifesto pledges another 2p reduction in national insurance, representing an overall tax cut worth £1,300 to the average worker. However, it seems unlikely this will be enough to move the needle on the Tories’ electoral fortunes. Surely now would be the time to roll the dice and take a bigger, bolder risk.  

Other headline policy announcements include a new Help to Buy scheme for new builds under £400,000, a commitment to cut income tax personal allowance for pensioners, and a pledge to make permanent the £425,000 stamp duty threshold for first-time buyers. Rishi Sinak’s speech also reiterated the “triple lock plus” plan and leaned into the “anti-woke” agenda, pledging to protect single-sex spaces. 

The real debate begins now, as political analysts and Labour Party economists pick through the detail of the full manifesto document.  

Rishi Sunak has already faced tricky waters during this campaign for policy announcements with little detail or thought sitting behind them, namely the National Service announcement which unravelled under the microscope within hours. So it’s now time for Rishi Sunak to hope that his special advisers have done their sums correctly, as the more punishing scrutiny and media rounds begin. So far, Keir Starmer has accused the Prime Minister of “building this Jeremy Corbyn-style manifesto, where anything you want can go in it, none of it is costed”, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has already suggested that the £12 billion projected savings from welfare reform look “difficult in the extreme”.  

All in all, the Conservatives leave Silverstone today less with popping champagne corks and a trophy, and more with the smell of burnt rubber in the air.  

It’s now over to the Labour Party for their own manifesto launch on Thursday. Can they further accelerate their poll lead to new heights? 

By Victoria Murphy, Associate Director. To get in touch with our Public Affairs team, please contact