Conservative leader David Cameron
has launched his party’s election manifesto, which he says is a “plan to
change Britain for the better”.
He said the “optimistic”
plan would bring a “new kind of government” with less state and more
Pledges include allowing people to
set up their own schools and veto high council tax rises.
Labour said it meant people would
be left “on their own”. The Lib Dems said it was “style over substance”.
In a speech launching the manifesto
at Battersea Power Station in south London, Mr Cameron said it was the
“the biggest call to arms this country has seen in a generation”.
He said no government could solve
all problems on its own and he wanted “everyone to get involved”,
adding government should be the “partner of the big society, not its
Mr Cameron said he had taken the
Tories back to the “centre ground” of politics, away from the
“narrow focus” it had in the past: “We stand for society, that’s
the right idea for a better future.”
The Tories’ plan to block the bulk
of Labour’s planned 1 per cent rise in National Insurance is in the manifesto.
Mr Cameron said it would save more than 50,000 jobs and would make “seven
out of 10 working people better off than under Labour”.
Labour say Tory plans to cut
“wasteful” government spending by $18 billion this year to fund the
policy are based on “fantasy” calculations and are reckless.
Mr Cameron said: “Labour say
the economy will collapse unless they keep on wasting your money.”
He accused the government of trying
to “frighten” people while he presented an “optimistic”
programme and would “trust” people.
Among pledges in the manifesto are
a community “right to buy scheme” – to allow people to protect post
offices and pubs threatened with closure.
Other pledges include raising the
stamp duty threshold for first-time house buyers to $384,000, to raise the
inheritance tax threshold to $1.5 million, to freeze council tax for two years
and a voluntary “national citizen’s service” for 16-year-olds.
As well as pledges to reform
out-of-work benefits, scrap ID cards and increase health spending, there is
also a pledge for an annual cap on non-European Union migrants who are allowed
to live and work in the UK.