Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, the appeasement of Hitler, a blockade of the Spanish republic and massive City financing of the Nazi government.
Clearly, the Tories don’t really want to give too much away about what’s coming next this time around. In fact, they would much rather just focus on Jeremy Corbyn’s peacenikery, his suits, and his outrageous sympathy for oppressed Irish and Palestinians.
After all, this strategy had worked wonders for the Tories in 2015. Then, the claim was that a Labour victory could, horror of horrors, lead to the democratic representatives of the Scottish people actually having some influence in government. Worse: the Tories claimed, with zero evidence, that Miliband was not sufficiently committed to Britain’s weapons of mass destruction programme. And besides, on a personal level he was a rotter. Michael Fallon helpfully brought together all three strands of this story in his comment that “Miliband stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back to become prime minister.” What he meant was that Miliband could offer to scrap Trident in order to lure the SNP (who have a longstanding policy of opposition to nuclear weapons) into a coalition.
Total fantasy, of course, but the English went nuts for it; the Conservatives, against all expectations, won 60% of all English seats.
Replace the Scottish for the Irish, and ‘Miliband the rotter’ for ‘Corbyn the loser’ and the exact same strategy is in place today; no surprise, as the Tory campaign is being managed by the same Mr Lynton Crosby who masterminded the 2015 victory. And there is no reason to suspect it won’t work again.
It is a simple formula, but an effective one: collective attacks on one of the UK’s minority nationalities (I guess it will be Wales’ turn in 2020) combined with personal attacks on the leader; but most importantly, all underpinned with the central message: WE ARE A FUCKING EMPIRE, the rest of the world had better not forget it, and these Labour losers must not be given a chance to fuck it all up. None of this requires a manifesto, simply a series of attacks on the opposition and a few dogwhistles to English chauvanism.
So why did they bother with a manifesto at all? The simple answer is the House of Lords. Incredibly, it was the Lords, more than anyone else, who managed to put some kind of spanner in the works of the Tories’ ‘austerity’ drive. In October 2015, they defeated then-Treasurer George Osborne’s bill to slash £4.4billion from tax credits – benefits paid to workers on low incomes. According to the Salisbury convention – one of the archaic unwritten rules which make up Britain’s non-constitution – the Lords should not block legislation arising from the government’s manifesto commitments. But this particular policy had not appeared in the manifesto, and so the Lords had the right to throw it out.
Theresa May wants to make damn sure this does not happen again. Whilst she would love a ‘blank cheque’ to do whatever she wants, regardless of whether or not it breaks a manifesto promise, the only way she can be sure to quieten Lords opposition is to spell out her intentions in the manifesto. That way, under the rules of the ‘Salisbury convention’, they will have to let it pass. Hence her inclusion of a social care policy –