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The Conservatives are poised to unveil a manifesto which will give power to people

Picture 5 Yesterday evening Tim wrote this first preview of the Conservative Party's manifesto for the general election, which is being published at 11am this morning.

He cited David Cameron's foreword which sought to fire up millions of people into playing a part in the nation's future and highlighted eight of the party's direct invitations to people, which would empower them in a variety of ways.

And it is the notion of giving power to people which leads the previews of the document in most of the papers this morning:

The Times: "David Cameron will invite voters today to take greater control over their own lives as he challenges Labour’s vision for Britain’s future. The Conservative leader says that he wants to put the public in the driving seat, wresting control of their lives from the State, a sharp contrast with Labour’s pledge to form an “active reforming government, not an absent government”.

The Guardian: "In a direct invitation to voters to join him in governing Britain, the Tory leader will promise in his election manifesto to offer California-style referendums on any local issue if residents can win the support of 5% of the population. Adopting historic language from the Labour movement about the "collective strength" of society, Cameron will also pledge to let people "be your own boss" as public sector workers are allowed to assume ownership of the services they provide."

The Independent: "The 130-page policy blueprint, billed last night as a "people's manifesto", invites the nation to join Mr Cameron "to form a new kind of government for Britain". It will contrast his aim to devolve power to individuals and communities with what it calls Labour's top-down management style. The manifesto will promise parents that education will be revolutionised by the creation of a "new generation" of free schools run by other schools, charities or private companies."

Daily Telegraph: "He [David Cameron] will allow people to be “your own boss, sack your MP, run your own school, own your own home, veto council tax rises, vote for your police, save your local pub or post office, and see how the government spends your money”... The Tory document will include key tax policies, including a pledge to reverse most of the Government’s planned National Insurance rise — an issue that has dominated the election campaign. It will outline plans for a £150-a-year tax break for four million married couples and include eight benchmarks for economic growth by which the electorate will be able to hold a new Tory administration to account."

Several of the tabloids, however, pay particular attention to the pledges the party is making on crime and immigration:

Daily Mail: "Immigration is 'too high' and will be reduced to levels last seen in the mid-1990s under a Tory election blueprint to restore Britain's 'sense of national purpose'... A key section of the document, seen by the Daily Mail, seeks to address claims that the Conservatives have shied away from the issue of immigration, which polls suggest is second only to the economy among voters' concerns. The manifesto pledges barriers on immigration from countries joining the EU, an annual cap on non-EU migration and a tougher points system to limit access to those with most to offer the British economy."

The Sun: "David Cameron's Tories will lock up anyone convicted of a knife offence - even those caught carrying a blade, he will reveal today. The party would also fast-track the introduction of mobile weapons scanners on streets, trains and buses."

The Financial Times, meanwhile, takes the opportunity to suggest that the party's programme being announced today is rather different from that which it would have put forward had Gordon Brown called an election in 2007:

"A combination of the economic crisis and a squeeze on the Tories' opinion poll lead has tempered the opposition party's modernising aspirations with more pragmatic policies designed to appeal to its traditional base and woo floating voters."

From what we've seen, it looks to me like an optimistic, coherent programme and the emphasis on power to people is one which anyone sceptical about the burgeoning power of the state should welcome.

There will obviously be further coverage of the manifesto launch on ConHome after 11am.

Jonathan Isaby


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