The head of a leading economic think tank has savaged the Conservative Party’s election platform, questioning the party’s commitment to lowering tax and cutting state spending.
Mark Littlewood, the director of the Institute for Economic Affairs – Margaret Thatcher’s favourite think tank – has called on Theresa May’s party to seize their lead in the polls as an opportunity to enact a truly conservative manifesto, denigrating their current platform as “feeble”.
Speaking to journalist Christopher Hope, he told Chopper’s Election podcast: “I am pretty worried about the manifesto and I am also pretty worried about the Conservatives’ track record in office.
“Just a couple of days ago we heard Theresa May saying ‘we are the party of lower tax’ – but that begs the question ‘lower than what’?
“It might be lower than Jeremy Corbyn’s levels of tax, but taxes have not gone down since 2010 in aggregate. So what sort of pledges will the Conservatives make to get the overall burden down?”
He added: “I am not particularly bothered if they don’t make a huge list of pledges but there is the pledge I would like them to make – if they are re-elected on June 8 will the total tax burden as a proportion of national income fall?”
Quizzed on whether the pledge was likely he said: “I doubt it – we are going to see the thinnest, most feeble manifesto full of vacuities – but that is a real problem.
“They should seize the opportunity in an election they are almost bound to win to put forward a genuine Conservative manifesto.”
The party is currently around 23 points ahead in the polls, putting them on track for a landslide win of historic proportions at the election in June.
Their popularity comes despite the party leadership touting a number of unpopular policies, including a commitment to keep foreign aid spending at 0.7 per cent of GDP, and suggestions that a Conservative chancellor may seek to raise one or more of income tax, national insurance and VAT.
Conservatives to the right of the party are therefore concerned the party’s leadership is being too timid in its ambition. They would like to see the party reach out to the country’s heartlands with economic policies designed to empower the working classes.
Conservative MP Philip Davis slammed the commitment to foreign aid spending as “truly idiotic, unpopular, unaffordable and absurd”.
He told Breitbart London: “The public are angry about this and this again shows how out of touch the political elite are with, in particular, working class voters who know that this money on overseas aid could be much better spent on the NHS or on social care in the UK.”
The party’s official election manifesto is scheduled for release in the week beginning 8 May, giving the electorate a month to consider it before going to the polls on 8 June 2017.