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By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

At last, manifestos! But few takers

People want better services, but the manifestos are obsessed with caution or cutting taxes says Jim in his latest blog. He also reflects on business giving a thumbs down to the right wing lurch in Europe.

I don’t understand why manifestos are issued halfway through election campaigns. Parties have years to come up with their plans for the future. They should be published for discussion as soon as the Prime Minister fires the starting gun.

Instead, we have two or three weeks where the politicians tease us with their ideas, and we only get the full picture just before postal voting starts.

I suppose this election, the timing of manifesto launches is less important as the level of public scepticism is at an all-time high. The National Centre for Social Research finds a record chasm of mistrust between the people and politicians.

Scandal, poor economic performance and the revelation that turning our backs on our European friends hasn’t brought the benefits promised, has all contributed to this. In addition, I think the manifestos of the Conservative and Labour parties have missed the real demand of voters.

People want our public services improved more than they want tax cuts. They know that independent economists are already forecasting the need for cuts after the election and yet Sunak and Starmer pretend they aren’t going to happen.

The Tories are promising billions of pounds of tax cuts to be found from benefit reform, and the old favourite, chasing tax evaders. Sir Keir is halfway across the ballroom with his Ming vase strategy involving promising a few tweaks, while refusing a bold programme of council house building, social care reform and integrating GPs businesses into the NHS.

Both parties say they won’t increase taxes, whilst continuing to benefit from the freeze in income tax allowances, which provides billions more for the Treasury, and pulls more people into paying tax each year.

The danger in all this cynicism and disillusion is that people turn to charismatic alternatives with simplistic answers. That is where Nigel Farage comes in where the UK is concerned, and Jordon Bardella in France. Never heard of him? Well, he may be Prime Minister there before the Olympics start. He is the young protégé of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally. It is the hard right grouping that humiliated President Macron in the European Parliament elections, triggering a snap poll for the French Assembly.

The German government also suffered at the hands of the far right, indeed they did well across most of Europe. This can largely be put down to the insoluble immigration crisis. Most depressing was the move of young people from the Greens to the right. So as the Mediterranean prepares to burn again this summer, and Germany is already suffering from floods, we can expect a slowing of initiatives to bring new jobs through the green transition. Indeed, the fall in the value of the Euro since Sunday, suggests business is pessimistic about good economic development in the EU going forward.

But all is not lost. Even the majority of ultra-right parties don’t favour breaking up the EU as Mr Putin wants, and it remains the case that moderate Conservatives and Social Democrats retain the largest groupings in the new European Parliament.

What a shame we were bystanders in this major exercise in democracy across the continent.

Downtown in Business

Anyone welcome in the Labour party!

In his blog, Jim argues that Labour doesn’t need Tory right wing MP defectors after a series of local election triumphs. Read his full analysis of the current political scene and a bit of nostalgia from the Manchester of forty years ago.

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Old lady not coming to rescue

The Bank of England won’t save the Tories, and with a betting scandal now hammering the final nail in their coffin, Jim’s blog includes the first part of a survey of NW seats.

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Going down fighting!

The Tories are heading for a heavy defeat, but Jim reckons the Prime Minister is going down fighting. He also reviews the battleground seats in Cheshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

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