Social care unintentionally became a key election issue for the Conservatives through the inclusion in their manifesto of what MP Nigel Evans referred to as 'a full frontal assault on our core voters - the elderly'. The party had previously committed themselves to a new green paper, but care minister David Mowat has lost his Warrington South seat, and his role has not yet been filled in the cabinet reshuffle. The future of social care under a minority Conservative government is uncertain.
Energy policy is not a key General Election battleground. There were some flickers of it early on in the campaign, but since then it has barely been mentioned in the final phase of election campaigning as the major parties double down on the repetition of their key campaign phrases.
The phrase “human rights” is almost entirely absent from the Conservative manifesto. The party prefers instead to use the term "British values". The decision to avoid the language of rights is perhaps unsurprising given that, according to a 2014 YouGov poll, “only half of Conservatives and four in ten UKIP voters believe human rights exist”.
The two main educational headlines from the party manifestos in 2017 are the Conservative's endorsement of more Grammar Schools, and Labour's pledge to abolish tuition fees, re-introduce maintenance grants and write off student debt. They both represent radical breaks from their parties' recent previous manifesto statements, but neither necessarily break new ground or threaten to lose party support. So how do parties decide what to put in their election manifestos? How should we 'read' the story of the 2017 election?
The UK is a facing a housing crisis. Whichever party wins the election will be confronted by numerous problems including: a lack of affordable housing in many of parts of the country; the challenges associated with housing an ageing population; a housing stock which is showing signs of obsolescence and fatigue; a highly unregulated and unchecked private rental sector; the challenge of ensuring that younger households are able to access affordable; high quality housing and home ownership; and, increasing levels of homelessness and rough sleeping.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that 71 million young people are unemployed in the world today. This figure is down from a post financial crisis high of 75 million in 2012; nevertheless it remains an alarming figure.
One of the consequences of the UK’s impending departure from the European Union is that EU funding to the UK regions will come to an end. With the Treasury still determined to reduce the budget deficit, there had been widespread fears that the EU monies would not be replaced. But the Conservative manifesto, in particular, has come up with a surprise.
Brexit, Scottish Independence, the future if the United Kingdom itself; not to mention the continuing threat of global terrorism, the environmental crisis, the rise of Trump, and continuing sluggish economic growth: not for generations has there seemed to be so much at stake as we head into a British general election. The ramifications of who we collectively elect on 8 June are indeed significant, and the election manifestos of the main parties now tell us how they will deal with some (if not all) of these issues.