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Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 17:29 UK

Reaction to the Tory manifesto from the other parties

David Cameron

The Conservatives have launched their election manifesto. What have the other parties and interested groups said about it?

In his speech at Battersea Power Station in south London, Conservative leader David Cameron pledged to introduce a "new kind of government", with a smaller state and more "people power".

With policies including allowing people to set up their own schools and veto high council tax rises, he says the manifesto is a "plan to change Britain for the better".

The Tories also confirmed their pledge to block the bulk of Labour's planned 1% rise in National Insurance from April next year.

Here is the reaction of a selection of other parties, business organisations, pressure groups, and political commentators.


Prime Minister Gordon Brown said there was a "complete hole" in the Conservatives' plans.

He said the Tory manifesto contained nothing to help the continuing economic recovery, and it would instead put the growth in the economy at risk.

Mr Brown also attacked the Conservative commitment to reduce the size of the state.

"They are saying 'You are on your own'," said the prime minister during a campaign trail visit to Derby.

"They are leaving people on their own to face the recession."


Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said it was a manifesto "of style over substance".

David Cameron at the Conservative manifesto launch

He accused Mr Cameron of "thinking he should just inherit power, rather than earn it".

"You can't trust the Conservatives," said Mr Clegg.

"They've just launched a manifesto in a power station that doesn't generate power.

"It's a manifesto of style over substance and you can't trust the Conservatives when they want to give tax breaks to double millionaires, not tax breaks to everybody else."

He said that on Wednesday, by contrast, the Lib Dems would launch "a manifesto that you can believe in".


Plaid Cymru, which also launched their own manifesto on Tuesday, said the Conservatives were offering nothing new for the people of Wales.

The Welsh nationalists' elections director, Helen Mary Jones, went further, claiming the Tory plans would wreak havoc on Welsh communities.

She said the Conservatives were wrong to propose to extensively cut the public sector budget before the economic recovery was properly under way.


The Scottish National Party accused the Conservatives of "double standards".

They said it was wrong for the Tories to back a referendum in Wales on increasing the powers of the Welsh Assembly, but not a referendum on independence for Scotland.

"Their stance on the constitution is totally incoherent and unsustainable," said the SNP's Westminster leader Angus Robertson.

"David Cameron's so-called respect agenda has been exposed as a sham, and the Tories will pay a heavy price at the ballot box in Scotland."


On a busy day for manifesto launches, the UK Independence Party also officially launched the policies under which it will fight the election.

UKIP former leader and candidate for the Buckingham constituency, Nigel Farage, said all the main parties were avoiding the real issues.

"I don't want to be rude about the other parties...but it's no wonder that actually everyone is bored to death," he said.

"Frankly, the campaign so far has been a piddling irrelevancy, and it's becoming increasingly clear that the choice the British public are being offered here is not for a change of government but for a change of management."


The Institute of Directors (IoD) business group generally gave the Conservative manifesto a warm welcome.

"We very much welcome the general direction and tone of Conservative proposals in relation to the economy and business policy," said director-general Miles Templeman.

"There appears to be a strong desire to shrink the state and create more space for enterprises to grow. The challenge will be to turn these aspirations into a reality."

However, Mr Templeman cautioned that policies on employment regulation, transport and planning "do not sit easily with what was otherwise a pro-business manifesto".

The IoD has long been critical of the Conservatives' pledge not to allow a third runway to be built at London Heathrow.


Time Bale, senior politics lecturer at Sussex University, said it was a populist manifesto from the Conservatives.

"There is an element of populism in this [talk of big society], it's almost the Conservative Party trying to ally itself with the people against a government elite," he said.

"Today was about trying to sell the Conservatives as having a positive message and a lot of ideas.

"Cameron said the next five years doesn't have to be a depressing period, that's very different from talk a few months back of an age of austerity."


Environmental pressure group Greenpeace welcomed the confirmation that the Conservatives would rule out a third runway at Heathrow.

"David Cameron put the environment at the centre of his push to transform the Conservative Party, and now we can judge how far he's come," said Greenpeace executive director John Sauven.

"By ruling out a third runway at Heathrow, and committing to new standards for coal plants that would limit their emissions, he's addressing two of the big climate change challenges."

But Mr Sauven cautioned that while the Tory manifesto "looks good on the headline issues, it lacks a recognition that the market needs a jump-start if it's to deliver the scale of the change Britain needs".


The CBI business group also broadly welcomed the Conservatives' manifesto.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, agreed with the Tory plan to start to reduce the public deficit as soon as any Conservative government was elected.

"It is essential that the next government establishes a clear and robust plan to restore the public finances," he said. "The Conservatives' proposed emergency budget would be critical to establishing credibility on this vital issue."

The CBI also reaffirmed its support for Tory plans to reduce the planned rise in National Insurance.

However, Mr Cridland cautioned that the Conservatives' plans to introduce a tax on big banks should not be introduced unilaterally "to avoid damaging the ability of UK financial services to compete globally".

He also said that Tory plans to end the default retirement age "would be unhelpful".

"It helps employees think about when it is right to retire, and enables employers to plan more confidently for the future," he said.


The Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) welcomed Tory plans to reduce corporation tax, simplify the complex tax system and boost the research and development tax credit.

But EEF director of policy, Steve Radley, said manufacturers would be concerned that the Tories have pledged to abolish the default retirement age.

"Any changes to the retirement age of 65 must be implemented gradually so that employers and employees can plan for both their future needs with greater certainty," he said.


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said it welcomed Tory plans to protect hospital staff if they raise concerns about patient safety.

"To build on this all healthcare organisations should be required to hold a register of staff concerns that must be reported to their board and made available to the public," said RCN executive director of nursing and service delivery, Janet Davies.

She added that the RCN was committed to working with "whichever party wins the election" to maintain and improve care.

Ms Davies added that the organisation was calling for "safe staffing levels, time to train, support for specialist nurses and sustained investment in services, staff and facilities".

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