Tory manifesto welcomed?

Former advisor argues it will "leave people helpless"

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"Theresa, Theresa, Lunch Snatcher" - but does the comparison to Margaret Thatcher stop there?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

"Theresa, Theresa, Lunch Snatcher!"

It doesn't have the same ring to it as the 1980s chant ("Thatcher, Thatcher, Milk Snatcher") did - a taunt aimed at another female Tory leader and Prime Minister: Margaret Thatcher.

Mrs May has been accused of "channelling Thatcher" with her plan to scrap universal free school lunches for primary school children. Mrs Thatcher earned the nickname "Milk Snatcher" as Education Secretary in 1971 when the Edward Heath government stopped free school milk for children over seven.

The comparison between the Prime Minister and the Iron Lady could stop there with the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto, 'Forward Together', for the general election.

The manifesto "buries dogmatic Thatcherism", argues the New Statesman, by being more sceptical of the market and less hostile towards the state.

Theresa May, however, rejected the suggestion that she "had a distinctive personal approach or wanted to be compared with Margaret Thatcher".

She said: "There is no 'Mayism'. I know you journalists like to write about it. There is good solid Conservatism, which puts the interests of the country and the interests of ordinary working people at the heart of everything we do in government."

However, by rejecting the ideology of Thatcherism just as clearly as the socialism of Jeremy Corbyn, the Guardian argues, her Conservatism is different from Margaret Thatcher's, John Major's, or David Cameron's.

The differences between her and her predecessor, David Cameron, are both overt and covert. While the abandonment of the triple lock for pensions and the end of the "tax lock" promise of no increase to income tax, national insurance or VAT are obvious, there are further nuances between the promises made in the 2015 manifesto and 2017's Forward Together.

On child poverty, the small print has changed from the 2015 promise to "eliminate child poverty" to today's "we want to reduce child poverty". The Guardian's Jessica Elgot observes that the reduction of child poverty from the current 4 million children living below the poverty line - and predicted to pass the 5 million mark by 2020 by the IFS - "demands a muscular response". However, with the Tories abolishing the child poverty unit, subsuming it into the Department for Work and Pensions, it looks like the IFS prediction will be forthcoming.

Priorities on balancing the budget have changed over the last two years. The Tories promised to deliver a "balanced structural current budget" in 2017-18; however, the revised plan is to deliver a balanced budged by the middle of the next decade, 10 years later than former Chancellor George Osborne's original timeframe.

According to the BBC, key policies in the Conservative Party manifesto include:

  • increasing NHS spending by an extra £8 billion over the next five years,
  • making winter fuel payments for pensioners means tested (taking away £300 from wealthier pensioners),
  • adding an extra £4 billion a year into schools by 2022,
  • raising the cost of care threshold from £23,000 to £100,000,
  • cutting net migration to below 100,000,
  • increasing the amount levied on firms employing non-EU migrant workers
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