Is the Conservative manifesto really UKIP-lite?

Is the Conservative manifesto actually similar to UKIP policies?

Is the Conservative manifesto really similar to UKIP policies?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Conservatives released their election manifesto today (May 18), but some have claimed it bears more than a little resemblance to UKIP's policy platform.

And it's not just Theresa May's critics who are saying this. Earlier this month UKIPs economic spokesperson Patrick O'Flynn accused Theresa May of stealing its thunder.

But just how similar are the two parties' policies? Is Theresa May really parking her tanks on Paul Nuttall's lawn with a 'UKIP-lite' platform?

Well let's take a look. UKIP hasn't actually released its manifesto yet, but it did release a manifesto for the local elections earlier this month, so we've combined that document with their regular policy briefings in our research.

Immigration

UKIP's local election manifesto, introduced before the local council elections, says the party would introduce an Australian-style points based system and won't give EU citizens free movement. The party also says it wants to reduce net migration to zero, meaning the amount of people leaving the UK would be the same as the amount entering.

The party also wants to ban unskilled and low-skilled labourers from entering the UK for five years, according to the BBC

The Conservatives, on the other hand, pledge to bring immigration down to the tens of thousands in their manifesto, however they don't set a timeframe for this aim. There's certainly no reference to 'net zero'.

The manifesto also says employers would be forced to pay £2,000 a year for each non-EU worker. It's not quite the points system, but it would certainly send a strong message about the need to prioritise British workers.

Regarding free movement - well there are some tougher visa requirements for foreign-born students in the Tory manifesto, and the party says it would ask the Migration Advisory Committee for advice on how to improve the visa system without adding to total net migration. However, the Tories insist they would still allow skilled workers to fulfill the needs of our economy. 

Conclusion: Well the Tories' immigration stance is certainly a tough one, but one can't say it's quite as drastic as the roadmap outlined by UKIP. Tory supporters can certainly argue their party's manifesto is sensible, reasonable and reflective of the realities of post-Brexit Britain.

Education

UKIP's local manifesto states that it wants to improve access to good quality education and create more grammar schools and technical skills colleges. The party also wants to support home schooling and encourage vocational courses and apprenticeships. 

It also says it would stop Muslim schools from opening until better integration takes place between Muslims and mainstream society, as well as closing any schools teaching Islamist ideology, the BBC reports.

The Conservatives also want to improve access to good education for children and allow selective schools to be created. The party also wants more free schools to open, and reiterates plans to create a new generation of grammar schools.

It has also pledged to create world-class technical education available to pupils after they leave secondary school and implement new qualifications named T-levels.

Conclusion: Although there is some difference on free schools, the overarching goals and policies are fairly similar here. 

Health

UKIP wants to fund a dedicated mental health service and particularly raise standards of mental health treatment for young people. It also states it would provide the NHS with a £3 billion injection, according to iNews.

The party also says it would all pregnant women and mothers of children who are aged 12 or under access to specialist treatment for mental health. UKIP is prticularly opposed to health tourism.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, say they would increase spending on the NHS by at least £8 billion in real terms during the next five years and would continue to invest in training medical staff.

Upgrades to NHS buildings and technology would be delivered, and everyone needing medical attention would be treated, no matter where they came from. 

Like UKIP, the Tories state their party would continue funding mental health services, promising an investment of £1 billion by 2020/21. They also want to tackle the stigma around mental health.

Conclusion: Both parties therefore see a clear importance in helping people with mental health issues and - like most political parties, it must be said - they want to increase NHS funding. The difference appears to lie in health tourism, as UKIP want to wipe it out while the Tories say everyone will receive treatment regardless of their background.

Overall, it's easy to see where the 'UKIP-lite' comments are coming from. Theresa May and her party may deny any attempt to pull the rug from under UKIP's feet, but it's hard to deny the similarity in several areas.

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