Tory manifesto light?

The Conservatives want to "get Brexit done"

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Is the Tory manifesto lacking in substance?

By Joe Harker

The Conservatives have published their manifesto outlining their plans for the next five years in government.

The central promise of it is "get Brexit done", a promise to have the UK's exit from the EU all wrapped up as quickly as possible.

However, it has attracted criticism for being light on detail in some areas and misleading in others. Does it need to have more substance?

The Claim:

The headline manifesto pledges, in addition to the central message of "get Brexit done", are 50,000 new nurses, £33 billion more a year for the NHS by 2023/24 and 50 million more appointments at GP surgeries.

It's an attempt to show they can be the party of the NHS after new data showed the health service is reaching its worst point since records began.

There is also a £750 million pledge to put 20,000 more police officers onto the streets and plans to create 10,000 more prison places.

A pledge of £100 billion has been made to improve the UK's road and rail infrastructure and a £14 billion package for secondary schools.

It's a boost to spending that would be outstripped by Labour's manifesto but the Tories argue strikes the right balance between investment and fiscal responsibility.

The Counter Claim:

However, writing in The Guardian, John Crace denounces the Tory manifesto as one "so devoid of substance, you can't tear it apart".

As far as manifestos go it's a small document. It's not promising sweeping reforms or any significant overhaul of the country. It ticks the boxes in the main policy areas without giving the politicians who need to promote it much to talk about.

The Economist calls it a "deliberately dull" manifesto, one which plays it safe in many areas to avoid pulling focus away from Brexit.

Paul Johnson, head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said "if a single Budget had contained all of these tax and spending proposals we would have been calling it modest". For a budget to be this thin on the ground is one thing, for a manifesto that ought to be laying out plans for the next five years of government it's downright miserly.

A lack of substance actually benefits the Conservatives in some ways. They want the election to be all about Brexit so the more time they spend discussing other areas of policy the less they like it.

The Facts:

One of the main areas of the Tory manifesto has been picked apart already. The promise to increase nurse numbers by 50,000 have been accused of "deceit" as that number also includes some creative counting.

Nurse numbers have only risen by around 5,000 since 2010 and the 50,000 target includes a combination of retraining and staff retention. It includes 18,500 existing nurses who the government wants to keep.

When the Tories say they want 50,000 new nurses it doesn't mean there will be 50,000 more brought into the NHS. It means some staff will be retrained and others retained.

Tory plans to get 20,000 more police officers onto the streets would be less than the amount cut during austerity.

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