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Tory manifesto? More drive to survive than revved up ambition

Those strategists who cooked up the idea of launching the Conservative manifesto at a Formula One venue no doubt had visions of Rishi Sunak putting some forward momentum in his campaign. Unfortunately for him, the whole event begged one question: has the Prime Minister got the drive to survive?

The manifesto itself is a hodge podge of sensible ideas (the abolition of national insurance, a smart little tax break for landlords to sell homes to tenants without getting hit by capital gains) and ‘popular’ policies that do not bear up particularly well to scrutiny of even the most rudimentary nature. The party’s crime and punishment policy (loosely translated: lock ‘em up and throw away the key) does not necessarily tally with the wider British public’s current understanding of Conservative crime and punishment policy.

The party’s housing aspirations sound awfully similar to those announced last time, and remain just as hollow. At no point in yesterday’s manifesto launch was it obvious to anybody watching what the bold plan actually was: the coherent vision under which the great British public might be able to march. It’s clearly not competent leadership (see: the past five years) and it’s not liberal economics (see: highest tax burden in seventy years). Frankly, it feels a little like going in circles. Perhaps that’s why they launched it at Silverstone.

For all that, the jury remains out on what Labour will slide into their manifesto. It is highly likely some in the party will feel emboldened by a 20-point lead and attempt to make the document more radical: perhaps with a hint here and there of a more aggressive capital gains regime. Such a move would be a mistake.

The Tory party may appear to be out of ideas; that does not mean the business community nor the City is desperate for bad ones.