Picture by Edward Massey / CCHQ

‘We are the party of Thatcher’: Sunak to draw ideological divide with ‘socialist’ Starmer at manifesto launch

At the Conservative Party’s manifesto launch on Tuesday, Rishi Sunak will draw an ideological divide with Labour and Keir Starmer. 

The framing comes after the prime minister told the BBC on Monday that the Conservative manifesto will include tax cuts. “We’re going to keep cutting people’s taxes. You’ll see that in our manifesto [on Tuesday]”, Sunak said.

The Conservative manifesto will outline what Sunak plans to do if he wins the election. It is also the prime minister’s latest chance to shift the political conversation away from his decision to leave a D-Day commemoration event early.

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The manifesto is expected to include a pledge to scrap stamp duty for first-time buyers of properties costing up to £425,000, according to recent leaks. 

However, it is not thought to include any pledge on inheritance tax.

Launching the manifesto on Tuesday, Sunak will repeat his much-criticised claim that the Labour Party will increase taxes on working households by £2,094 and label Starmer a “socialist” who will “take more of your money.”

He will say: “We Conservatives have a plan to give you financial security. We will enable working people to keep more of the money you earn because you have earned it and have the right to choose what to spend it on.

He will add: “Keir Starmer takes a very different view. He says he’s a socialist, and we know what socialists always do: take more of your money. And we know that the plans Labour have already announced will require them to increase taxes on working households by £2,094.

“We Conservatives have had to take difficult decisions because of Covid. But we are now cutting taxes for earners, parents and pensioners.

“We are the party of Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson, a party, unlike Labour, that believes in sound money.

“In this party, we believe that it is morally right that those who can work do work, and that hard work is rewarded with people being able to keep more of their own money. We will ensure that we have lower welfare so we can lower taxes.”

The Conservatives have already unveiled a series of pledges since the election was called just a few weeks ago. 

In the early stages of the campaign, Sunak vowed to bring back national service — which would compel eighteen-year-olds to choose between a selective, full-time 12-month placement in the armed forces or the equivalent of one weekend per month (25 days per year) of volunteering in their community. 

The prime minister went on to pledge an effective tax cut for pensioners by creating a new “age-related” tax-free allowance, what the Conservatives call a pension “triple lock plus”.

Rishi Sunak vows tax cut for pensioners with ‘triple lock plus’

Last week, the Conservatives announced a plan to cut taxes for 700,000 families by raising the threshold at which families pay the Child Benefit Tax Charge from £60,000 to £120,000. It was claimed that 700,000 families could benefit by an average of £1,500 as a result of the’ proposed changes.

Speaking ahead of the Conservative Party’s manifesto launch, Labour’s national campaign coordinator Pat McFadden said: “The one thing to know about the desperate series of unfunded commitments in the Tory Manifesto is that the money’s not there. Their manifesto will be the most expensive panic attack in history.

“The Tories’ scattergun and unfunded commitments have racked up billions with no idea from them of how to pay for it. They used to care about economic credibility. Now, in their desperation, they spend every day torching whatever remnants of it they had left.

“After 14 years of chaos, it’s time to turn the page and start to rebuild with Labour.”

The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have released a dossier accusing the Conservatives of failing on their six “guarantees” in the 2019 manifesto. 

The dossier reads: “The Conservative 2019 manifesto opened with Six ‘Guarantees’. Of these, the Conservatives have only successfully delivered one of these policies, with one of those coming at a significant cost to the economy. Time and time again, the Conservatives have over-promised and under-delivered.”

Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain said: “Rishi Sunak’s manifesto isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The only guarantee they’re good for is unmitigated failure. The wheels have already fallen off their campaign, and the promises they make are just a desperate attempt to rescue Rishi Sunak. 

“Their record is one of three prime ministers and countless broken promises.

“With Rishi Sunak once again planning to promise the earth in his manifesto, the question is: why should anyone believe him and his party this time? In many seats across the country, the only way to end this Conservative chaos is to vote for the Liberal Democrats.”

The Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto on Monday, which included the pledge to take the UK back into EU single market. 

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Lib Dem manifesto pledges to take UK back into EU single market