Michael Howard has launched the Conservative manifesto insisting that he wanted to "battle for Britain" after the "let-down" of eight years of Labour.
He outlined key pledges on cleaner hospitals, more police, school discipline, controlled immigration, lower taxes and accountability.
Tony Blair said the Tory plans were fundamentally flawed and based on economic nonsense.
Labour and the Lib Dems are expected to release their manifestos later in the week.
What do you think of the policies in the Conservative manifesto? What do you think of campaigns so far? Send us your comments using the form on the right.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
I am disgusted by the immigration and security scare-mongering that Michael Howard is indulging in. I was previously undecided, I will now not be voting Conservative.
The Tories are being very quiet on Europe, probably because the leadership are committed to the Maastricht Treaty and ever closer union, whereas they know that the majority of their members support the UKIP view that we should withdraw from the EU and negotiate free-trade arrangements with the other nations. Why won't the party tell the truth and admit that their idea of renegotiation is just not possible?
Allan Tallett, Christchurch, England
The pledge to make the examination system more transparent is laughable - how and when? Guidelines and moderation by a second examiner can't really address the inherent problems of interpretation and subjectivity, thus grades are largely incomparable. Can't we judge the candidate by other attributes? High grades don't automatically guarantee a high quality employee.
As a civil servant there is nothing in this manifesto but a promise of the sack. It is also full of contradictions on where they stand. The Dumfries Tory Candidate says it is a crass act for Labour to cut local Benefit's Agency jobs, but his manifesto says they will get rid of 240,000 civil servants. He says Dumfries should have been the HQ of Forest Enterprise Scotland, the manifesto says abolish the Forestry Commission. The Tories say one thing when they think there is a cheap vote in it for them, but then their own words trip them up. They simply cannot deliver on this manifesto
Derek Douglas, Dumfries
In the manifesto, the Tories claim that they will provide 20,000 extra prison places. I couldn't find where it said how. How can they do this without releasing 20,000 current prisoners which goes against their manifesto? Once again, a total lack of credibility.
Darren Porter, Redcar, UK
What they have set out is common sense and I personally feel that I can trust Mr Howard to do his best to deliver. What he says contrasts with Labour whom I simply don't trust. But importantly I want to elect a prime minister for the full term, not someone who is going to step aside for someone else - an arrogant gesture that seems to typify Blair and his team.
Philip Low, London, UK
A curious mixture of opportunism and things that everybody would like to see.
Steve Howie, Cambridge, UK
I can't believe how naive people are being when it comes to the Tories. We have heard all this from them before. I didn't believe they would deliver the goods then and I certainly don't now!
Richard Green, Cannock, Staffordshire, England
I've been looking for a party which address my concerns. I've just graduated and thanks to this government with heavy debts. Both the Lib Dems and Conservatives caught my eye by saying they would scrap fees but now I will vote for Michael Howard because I don't believe that Lib Dems will cut crime. I think that people should have an open mind when it comes to politics and rather than base their vote on outdated views they should look at the party now and base their vote on what it is offering now.
Neil Fitzgerald, Southampton, Hampshire
This is a quality manifesto, it's about time that smug grin was wiped off Blair's face. People worry about cuts but it has already been said that the only cuts would be them getting rid of the endless bureaucracy which engulfs this country.
D.J, Seaton, Devon
I am not sure what people are thinking when they say, "How will they increase this and that when they are going to spend less?" Surely, it is HOW you spend that counts. Efficiency is key, and the Conservatives realise this.
They have some good ideas - but I just cannot vote for them because of their suggestion to slap commercial rates of interest on student loans. My student loan debt is currently larger than my salary, and the amount I pay back each month doesn't even cover the interest! Don't condemn us all to spiralling debt.
If the Tories can deliver on their manifesto then they can have my vote. Since Labour came to power we have increasingly seen the dangerous rise of an underclass which threatens our way of life.
Keith Kettlewell, Yate, South Gloucestershire
I am surprised by the Conservatives' obsession with MRSA. If they really wanted to tackle the problem they would invest more money in scientific research regarding the problem. MRSA arose in the first place from resistance to the antibiotic methicillin; antibiotic use in hospitals is what should be considered. I agree that cleanliness is essential in a hospital but the Tories are sadly missing the point.
Eilish McCann, Leamington Spa
A document totally lacking in credibility. If people are foolish enough to be persuaded by the cheap headline policies pushed by Mr Howard with no details of how he will cope with the fallout of his plans, they seriously need to think again.
Nick Tag, London
Towards the end of the manifesto there is mention of the possibility of legalising hunting with dogs. A "free vote of the House of Commons" which means, with a Tory majority, that this most bestial activity will be re-introduced. Choice? Not for our wildlife apparently.
David Carruthers, Chatham, Kent
A pathetic attempt to conceal a hidden agenda. My vote will definitely not go to Michael Howard or his party.
Michael Pressland, Beckenham, Kent. UK
Same headlines during the 70s and 80s by Enoch Powell and the National Front! Basically, it's alright to be a racist. Shame on you Michael Howard for playing on peoples fears.
R Singh, Birmingham
Mr Blair's comments on Tory economics are typical of his total lack of integrity which has been displayed vividly to the country for the past five years in particular. As Gordon Brown knows and said, we can't trust a word the PM says.
Malcolm Pettit, Chichester
Good, solid and sensible policies which can only be good for this country and are for the people rather than the left wing Islington dinner circuit elite.
Michael McLaughlin, Plymouth
I'm all behind the Tory immigration policy as I'm fed up with being tip-toed round by Labour in case they upset minorities. Their plans for control of the issue are too late. Time for change!!!
George Peacock, Edinburgh
What might help to reduce crime and improve education is for one parent to be at home to support the children. Why not allow non-working partners' tax-allowance to be transferred to the working partner?
Courting the grey vote with the politics of 'worry - health, immigration, crime. They may scare a few vulnerable elderly people into voting for them but the rest of us, I think not.
Sarah Franklin, Stirling
How can the Tories expect us to take them seriously when they produce a manifesto cover of a standard that wouldn't even be accepted on a job application? Do they want us to take them seriously or not?
Cleaner world or cleaner wards? I know which I think is more important. It is iniquitous that the environment doesn't even get a mention from Mr Howard and co. This manifesto lacks substance, concentrating on opportunistic headline grabbing rather than a coherent programme for government.
I am surprised but pleased that Michael Howard and the Conservatives are giving us a real chance to get rid of a high tax, high spend government that has done little but spin and talk.
Mark, Rugby, Warwickshire
Council Tax is totally unfair. How can it be resolved? I am of retirement age and my husband is on invalidity but we still pay £190 per month. We have worked hard for our property and not wasted money. We both only have small pensions but above the limit to get a benefit.
Mrs J Howe, Newcastle upon Tyne
I never thought I'd become a Tory supporter but they are the only party who seem to have sensible solutions to the problems we face today. I particularly like the idea of introducing mandatory health screening to immigrants which would drastically reduce the incidences of TB etc in this country, thus saving the NHS a large chunk of time and money. Those who think this is racial victimisation are utterly uninformed.
Michelle Stevenson, Cardiff, Wales
I have little or no time for Michael Howard and even less time for Blair. However, I do regard the Tory manifesto as a step in the right direction in that it addresses issues of concern to ordinary folk. The last eight years have seen my pension plans wrecked by Labour. I hold Brown accountable for that because it was his taxation of the Pensions Savings Industry which, at the outset, brought about the collapse.
John Third, Sidcup
Where is the vision for the future of this country? This must be one the least ambitious and most threadbare manifestos ever.
Paul Boone, London
It's ironic that someone whose dad was an illegal immigrant feels it is OK to whip up hatred against asylum seekers and gypsies.
Viet-Hai Phung, Nottingham
Finally, a Tory Party willing to fight an election on electable issues, rather than getting their knickers in a twist about Europe, something the citizens of this country care little about. Simple, clear and to the point. Good luck to them.
Ben L, Baldock, Herts
All sounds the same, full of promises and full of spin, the worrying aspect is there appears to be nothing 'emotionally intelligent' on how it will be presented or delivered in relation to managing public services, fair taxation and immigration. Instead their policies reflect ignorance and a lack of understanding towards equality and diversity for the UK community. I will not be voting for either of the major parties.
Karen Holme, Nottingham
The Conservatives have covered the issues that matter to the British citizen. It is not racist to want to control immigration, but a simply a way of preserving this nation. Other European countries do it, why should Britain be different.? Living in Birmingham allows you to experience the effect of immigrants on society. There are places in my home city where I am alienated! I'm voting Tory because they have Britain at their heart, not economic advance or world opinion. Yes, the Tories are evil, but I love a bit of it.
Dave Wright-Philips, Birmingham
I'm fascinated by the omissions from this very slim manifesto. Michael Howard says immigration is too high and should be limited but won't say what the limit should be. Asylum claims will be handled "offshore" but there's no indication of where this will be. There's a vague reference to the railways, but nothing about buses or the London Underground or cycling. If wards are closed because of MRSA, where will the patients go? If hundreds of badly-behaved children are expelled from school, where will they be taught? This seems to be more of a vague list of grievances, rather than a serious programme for government.
John Bourn, Gateshead
Immigration and asylum is a real problem in the UK just now and the only party with constructive plans for the policing of UK borders and a fair just system for those who would want to reside in our country is the Conservatives. Another important issue that is not at the forefront of their manifesto or campaign is the EU. However, the Conservative stance with regards the EU should have them head and shoulders above any other party.
I haven't been let down over last few years - quite the opposite actually. As for the "silent majority" or "decent, hard working families" - what does that actually mean? Snobby middle classes is closer to the truth.
No party should remain in power for more than two or three terms, They just get big headed and smug. Some get to this point quicker than others (as is the case with the current mob). It's time for a change. Tory it must be.
Ricky T, Leeds
Concentrating on immigration, stopping travellers, locking more people up and cutting spending on public services: the nasty party is alive and well under Michael Howard.
K Smith, Warrington, Cheshire
Isn't it interesting how Tory voters always believe that their views represent "the silent majority"? Just like they believe that when Michael Howard talks about the people of this country being 'decent and fair' they bask in the feeling that he means them. They can then feel a warm glow of content as they peddle their views of a Britain full of small-minded, vicious, insecure people, always hard-done by and always afraid. Not the sort of country I want to live in ever again!
Pat Oddy, Yarm
Talk about poacher turned gamekeeper! Michael Howard talks of improving the health service and education. For whom? The rich? Or the "silent majority" who suffered under twenty years of Conservative rule? He talks of immigration. But how did his family arrive in the UK? Why is he shutting the door to those in need when that is how his family came to live here? His talk of quotas only causes the Great British islander mentality to rear its shaven head and divide our society further. In case you haven't noticed, Mr Howard, we are almost all immigrants. Hardly any of us can claim our ancestry back to the original inhabitants of these islands. It's how the world is these days. Immigration should be fairer and more just, not discriminatory and racist. Parts of our country, like Scotland, where I live, need more immigrants, not less. Lower taxes? Yes, and bad services, as Margaret Thatcher proved. Healthcare, transport, pensions, social care - they all suffered from a chronic lack of investment under Conservative rule and it's taken the last eight years of Labour rule to even move towards putting them right. Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Mr Howard? Definitely not.
It is a pity that the media are so manifestly biased against the Conservatives, making it difficult for them to win against an unprincipled government.
A Bernard, Surrey, UK
The poorest script yet from the world of Disney. Rip it up and start again.
Ian, London, UK
How can anyone make an informed choice when a political party treats us all like five year olds? I was hoping to see the economic equations, some major points for us all to latch on to. As none are there I'm afraid it's bring on the Lib Dems or Labour.
Tony Gurney, Coventry
Interesting: more police, cleaner hospitals, more teachers? Oh, and lower taxes? Surely increasing public spending means you have to raise taxes? Or make cuts elsewhere. But I don't see any mention of where they will cut spending. Same old Tories, same old rubbish. I refer you to the Lib Dems' manifesto. They actually back up their policies with a source of funding such as, for instance, cutting subsidies to arms manufacturers and pulling our troops out of a war that's not ours. Do the other parties have their figures available for 'open evaluation'? I'm not 100% sure of whether the Lib Dems are the future but the future of UK politics should involve a transparent economic audit if the economy has become as important an electoral issue as seems to be the case. Neither Labour nor Conservative will get my vote this time.
Andy Rock, Leeds, UK
The Tory's slogan "Are you thinking what we're thinking" has me baffled. Just what are they thinking?
Phil Donoghue, Glasgow
Mr. Howard puts the "Con" into Conservative. He cannot simultaneously cut taxes, cut spending and improve public services. Fortunately the electorate are not as stupid as Mr. Howard hopes.
Kevin Parker, West Midlands
The issues chosen by the Tories are just those that matter to the majority of people.
Michael Ward, Stamford
Howard is a bit cynical isn't he? What's the main reason cleanliness has declined in the health service? Hospital Cleaning has been done on the cheap since the Tories privatised it and put it out to the lowest bidder.
I Jenkins, Wolverhampton UK
What's all this about cutting down on immigration? I thought Scotland was desperate for immigrants to replace a dwindling/migrating Scottish workforce? Yet again the Tories are trying to charm the English voters - but they don't care about issues north of the border.
It made me feel sick. The Tories are showing their racist teeth and playing straight into the hands of the BNP. How many immigrants, asylum seekers, and children of immigrants will be beaten up or killed in the climate of fear that the Tories are whipping up. Immigrants are an asset to this country not a debit.
Neil Rogall, London
The Conservatives have caught the mood of the things that concern the ordinary folk of this nation. Safer streets, clean hospitals, control of immigration, discipline in schools and for hard working families - lower taxes. It sounds like common sense to me!
Keith Wilson, Runcorn
Very pleased to see that the Conservatives are supporting our country again, charity begins at home.
Roland Addy, Ware
I think it looks promising. It must be better than the broken promises and wastages at the moment. There are so many people in financial difficulties. The hospitals are poor and the roads are worse than I have ever seen them.
J Copleston, UK
Mr. Howard cannot control immigration as long as we remain a part of the EU. The only way is to withdraw from the EU and none of the main party leaders will do that.
Marjorie Bayliss, Stockport
Eight Years of Labour sleaze and lies is enough. At last the Conservatives are finally forming a coherent sensible opposition party.
Mark Moran, Coventry
Populist, superficial and totally flawed. When are they going to present their core principles and outline how they are going to implement them? I for one have no confidence in Howard: vote him in and all those who are financially overcommitted will go to the wall in 12 months once the economy is wrecked.
Neil, Aberdeen, Scotland
Ironic: the Tories with a "social programme" and Labour challenging them on how they will pay for it.
Mike Thomas, Wales
Fantasy economics sums up the Tory manifesto. Does anyone really believe their sums add up?
Gary Stewart, Clydebank, Dunbartonshire
People who want to cause ill feeling with respect to this manifesto by suggesting a clamp down on immigration is tantamount to racism want treating with contempt!
Neil M, Derby
Hmmm, are you thinking what I'm thinking? They have the slimmest manifesto ever because they lack any real ideas except cheap political quips and soundbites. They've come out with a manifesto that could have been written by a three year old: "Vote Tory for better weather and better everything." Maybe Howard should quit the Tory party and become a tabloid editor.
Gavin Ross, Bracknell, UK
Living abroad in Dubai it is very important to have a balanced leader in Britain. Michael Howard is that leader and will breathe fresh air into the a tired, country that is violent and has lost its way.
Rob Pickering, Dubai
So many people have fallen for the spin. They repeat all the old slogans - don't forget the poll tax, NHS and schools run down under the Tories. Actually the Tories won four elections in a row including the one after the poll tax (with the biggest number of votes any party has ever received in a UK election). They must have been doing something right!
They lost in 1997 because of sleaze by a few MPs and the shenanigans over Europe. It's time to bring them back! (The Tories supported the war in Iraq because they like many of us believed the deception Blair spouted at the despatch box and has never been held to account for.)
Jon Jeffery, Swindon, Wiltshire
Although I am not British, I am familiar with the Tory arguments against immigration and they sound horrible. Immigration keeps a nation vibrant and interesting. To enact measures that would keep non-white immigrants out of Britain sounds like something out of the southern United States in the 1950s or Apartheid South Africa.
Pat Burgwinkle, Lancaster, MA, USA
I do not accept the speculation of what the Tories might do if they won the election. They have not been running the country for the last eight years so who can say what changes they would have made to ensure hospitals were clean, or school dinners were healthy. What I do know is that they laid the foundations for our successful economy and that they are again proposing policies that seem sensible, achievable, and add up.
Richard, Wortham, UK
The Tories are now speaking for the silent majority of people in this country. We need a party that understands what every hardworking and decent family in this country are concerned about. We have had enough of lies, sound bites and false promises.
Sue Nithy, Purley, UK
Do you want a return to the days of the poll tax and high unemployment? Do you want a party who does not believe in the basic principles of the NHS? What about outsourced hospital cleaning and school lunches, creating the mess we are in today? Do we truly want a governing party who will continue to put wealth into the hands of their rich friends? If this is what you are looking for, the Tories are your party. I, however, could never bring myself to vote Conservative.
Douglas, Manchester, UK
When I came across the cover of the Conservative manifesto on your web site I seriously thought it was a joke and had a little chuckle at it. After downloading the pdf and reading Michael Howard's infantile vision of Britain for "decent" people, I realised that my first impression was correct.
Nick Machen, Beverley England
I will vote Conservative not because of the manifesto but because they are the only party who do not want to take even more of my hard earned cash to squander on those who can't be bothered to work. Labour promise more stealth taxes and Lib-Dems are honest enough to promise even higher direct taxes. Just a freeze on taxes would be a benefit.
Roger, Stockport, Cheshire
The Conservative manifesto is short and to the point. It's what the country needs, no spin, just action on the real issues.
Steve Horgan, Billericay, England
I do not think I am alone in being very tired of the manner in which politics seems to be practised these days. The latest in the Tory manifesto - five more years of 'smirking' under Labour - is yet another sad example of the derogatory and frankly unhelpful language used in political debate in the UK which makes a mockery of our entire system.
Michelle, Dollar, Scotland
I shall, from Michael Howard's comments and the Tory manifesto, without a doubt be voting for the Conservative Party. The issues the Tories are promising to deal with are very important issues for the majority of people in this country and if the Tories don't get in this time, God help this country.
Listening to Michael Howard made me feel sick. How can he stand there and talk about the Health Service and Education with such a straight face knowing it was the Conservative party that bled those systems dry? What is scary is that we are fickle beings who are in danger of believing him.
Lynn, Herts, UK
An interesting approach. There's no doubt that there's a massive sense of disappointment and loss of trust in New Labour. The question is, will this push the right buttons with the disaffected? Polls seem to show its neck-and-neck. Could be interesting on May 5th!
James, London, UK
I would like to know what would happen with the war in Iraq if the Conservatives came into power.
William Bowran, Reading
I will not be reading it, or any of the others. I much prefer non-fictional literature.
I've just been on the Conservatives' website with the intention of requesting a copy of their manifesto. To my horror, despite the fact that they want my vote, I have to pay at least £2.50 to receive the document. If they really want it to appeal to the electorate then they should be sending it free. I refuse to pay to read what they intend to do for my country if I decide to vote for them!
Jacqueline Mott, Accrington
I have always voted Conservative but am now disgusted by the way they seek to stir up latent racist instincts. Michael Howard should hang his head in shame and will never get my vote again.
Simon Gould, Brighton
At last, immigration policy that reflects the feeling of the silent majority. For too long we have been held to ransom by vociferous minority groups playing the race card.
Ken Hoad, Basildon
I don't understand how the Conservative plan to cut taxes yet employ more police people. How are they going to pay their wages?
Sarah Knapper, Stoke
The Tory manifesto shows just how weak and desperate for power they are. It picks on issues which are already being tackled by the current government and then claims that the Tories are the only ones doing anything about them. I also think that their stance on immigration has undertones of racism and will only serve to drum-up racial tension and intolerance for our ethnic minority communities. Disgraceful!
Rewarding entrepreneurs and risk takers? Great, but they don't seem to have a strategy for increasing the availability of risk equity capital so we can produce more entrepreneurs in the first place!
I wonder what a handwriting expert would make of the Tory manifesto?
Chris Bell, Swiss Cottage, London
The Conservative manifesto has been presented very well. Just like new Labour, the Conservatives have reached the apotheosis of spin. There is no substance to their arguments and it seems their promises will result in a loss of jobs. Lower taxes means lower public expenditure. When are British people ever going to learn that? No amount of spin can hide it.
Alistair, Glasgow, UK
Anyone that thinks that the Tories aren't playing the race-card in their stance on immigration is living in a dream world. I'm a New Zealander and an immigrant, my wife is an Italian and an immigrant. When I talk to Tory supporting British people about immigration, to my face they say immigration is bad for the country, when I remind them that I and my family are immigrants more often than not the reaction is, "oh, you're the kind of immigrants we want". What they are really saying is, "we don't mind you because you are white." This rightwing media obsession with immigration is thinly veiled racism. My wife and I work hard, pay taxes and have never claimed a penny off the state in benefits, this can be said of 90% of the rest of the immigrants to this country. I doubt many of the locals can say that!
Craig, London - ex New Zealand
So far the Conservatives are the only ones to propose a voice for England, something Labour have denied us whilst giving devolution to the rest of the UK.
The 40,000 extra police is attractive to me, but where do the resources come from? How about by re-training a similar amount of the 600,000 civil servant jobs this government has created since 1997. There really is a lot of waste to be either re-allocated or better still, cut!
Stephen A, Hatfield
The Conservatives have caught the mood of the things that concern the ordinary folk of this nation. Safer streets, clean Hospitals, control of immigration, discipline in schools and for hard working families - lower taxes. It sounds like common sense to me.
Keith Wilson, Runcorn
Howard is a bit cynical isn't he? What's the main reason cleanliness has declined in the health service? Hospital Cleaning has been done on the cheap since the Tories privatised it and put it out to the lowest bidder.
I Jenkins, Wolverhampton, UK
Conservatives are about a Better Britain and somewhere we should be proud to live. What's wrong with working for a living, being proud of your heritage and standing up for your country? Tony Blair's Britain does nothing for the majority of hard working people. It's only concerned with those who don't want to help themselves.
I think the Conservatives should win. They are obviously thinking about the well being of everyone - less tax, cleaner hospitals etc. However, why has not one party thought about the environment so far? It is important!
Labour I do not trust. Any government would be better than this one, but the Tories will deliver a pragmatic, realistic approach to the problems of the day without sacrificing our freedoms.
Dudley Holley, UK
Anne Widdecombe may no longer consider there to be "something of the night about him" but I most emphatically do! Am I thinking what they are thinking? Absolutely not!
Wipe the smirk of Blair's face? Blair's face? Look at the picture of Michael Howard at the top of this page and tell me who comes out on top in the smirking stakes? The thought of Michael Howard wearing that expression outside No 10 on May 6th is more than enough to get me to the polling booth to vote for another four years of Labour!
Neil, Leigh on Sea
There is a lot of bias against the Tories. Their policies are in tune with the general public, unlike the other two parties who don't see MRSA or immigration issues as a problem. Is poll tax worse than an illegal war?
After year upon year of political correctness and weak non-delivery it is time to give the Conservatives a go.
Sean Tyrer, Warrington
Lots of talk of smirking and the like. Pots and kettles anyone?
Immigrants contribute an awful lot to our society both economically and socially and they shouldn't be seen as a burden.
As a life long Tory I am very pleased with the manifesto. It's short, to the point and unlike the Labour party it doesn't promise the earth - just what can be realistically achieved. I hope the public take the Tory message to heart and change this country for the better.
The Tory policies are nothing new, the nation rejected them with Major and Hague in charge and will do so with Howard.
Alan Christian, Eastwood
Again, the Tories have no idea how to run the country and the only real choice is Labour and rightly so. Why go back to the disaster that was Tory leadership, when after years of investing in our future, progress has been made?
Steve Clarke, Milton Keynes
The Conservative Party have served their time in the wilderness. On the strength of this manifesto, it's time they were re-elected. I will certainly be voting for them come polling day.
Chris Palmer, Taunton
I fail to see the attraction of the Tory manifesto. It is based on people's fears and prejudices. When folk say people are no better off under Labour, just think of those who would be suffering if it were not for the minimum wage which the Tories opposed. Wake up and stop being selfish - think of the general situation, not one particular issue.
All the Conservatives need to do now is promote family life (two parents, one male and one female, of course), scrap the dreadful Human Rights Act and allow spouses to transfer tax allowances. Then we may have a proper family friendly party again, instead of a bunch of left wing wets (New Labour et al) who are more concerned with the illegals and the minorities in our country than the majority.
Howard does present a refreshing alternative to the complications and excesses of Blair's Labour government. He makes much of accountability, and I think on that basis perhaps we should give him a chance.
When Labour won the '97 election, they did so on the back of a positive campaign, whilst the Conservatives had nothing good to say about themselves. This time it seems to be the other way around, with the Conservatives setting out new initiatives and Labour trying to rubbish them. I think Labour are rattled and on the back foot and Mr Blair is their biggest Achilles heel because nobody believes a word he says anymore.
Michael Newbold, Shoreham-by-Sea
I would never have consider voting Conservative before this election, but I have been won over by them, they seem to be more trustworthy that Labour.
Graham, St Neots
The Blair government cannot be trusted. The Tories offer hope to the country and a chance for us to get our country back.
Ian D, Chipstead, Surrey
My wife and I were big supporters of Blair and the Labour Party in 1997. Now, my wife feels personally betrayed by Blair and I support the Conservatives. What I don't understand is why Howard doesn't stand up and shout about Labour waste - two wasted terms in office, money wasted on 800,000 civil servants and pointless jobs (instead of teachers, police and nurses), billions wasted on the war, illegal asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, and all the parliamentary time wasted on foxhunting.
Pratik Mitra, London
It's pathetic that the Tories are resorting to such media based politics, purporting policies that could never stand up in government. These are cheap, quick answers to questions we could only pretend are important. Unfortunately, many people will be drawn in by this pointless rhetoric!
Paul Winwright, Southampton
Am I the only person, other than Mr Howard, who is concerned with the spiralling taxation costs in the UK today? Why should people not be able to keep the vast proportion of their income to enjoy, rather than have it wasted on increased state interference.
J Atkinson, Halifax
After looking at their manifesto, I have decided to vote Conservative. The policies they outline are clear and free from the waffle that I am tired of hearing from Labour. They aren't promising the Earth, which is a good thing.
Paul Smith, Selby, Yorkshire
Mr Milburn says that the Tories "stand for privilege, not opportunity". The only opportunity that Labour stands for is the opportunity to rely on someone else to solve your problems. For this reason a Labour Britain will never achieve anything because no one is willing to work hard anymore.
AP, Newport, Wales
Michael Howard is not against immigration. He is just thinking about the future - we have too many immigrants. Conservatives show that they know what they are doing by giving us what will be beneficial for us - lower taxes. They are thinking about our future.
I totally agree and will vote Conservative, as will my family. Our council tax is nearly £200 a month for just refuse collection! And we are both OAPs. How can we afford to go on under a Labour government?
Bob Smith, Tiverton
I am surprised to hear the race card jibe and against immigration slur used by the ill-informed on this page. It has nothing to do with race, or being anti-immigration. All you need to do is know who is living in your country and where, it's called responsible immigration and an integrated society. By way of example controlled immigration would probably mean the Morecombe Bay cockle deaths wouldn't have happened, and the cockle beds would be open this season for responsible fishermen to make a living wage from.
It would appear that Michael Howard's party have put together a manifesto that is not only concise, but also attempts to avoid the pitfalls of promising more than can be delivered. However, I fear the election will sadly be won by Blair and his party. We can then look forward to another 4 to 5 years of Labour dismantling everything this country has stood for.
Noel Whitman, Bolton
Reducing taxes and spending more on quality public services is basic economics. You get more tax through less evasion and people working harder. The Tory plans look pretty smart and the Labour Bloat boat seems to be sinking. Roll on 5 May.
How juvenile to make the Prime Minister's facial expression a reason not to vote Labour. Not least because in the "smirking" stakes it's just about a photo finish between Howard and Blair! As for the policies, as someone whose employment is dependent upon the UK being a full member of the EU, I cannot vote for a party whose stated intention is to rock the boat on Europe. I would like to vote for a truly pro-Europe, pro-Euro party, but I do not believe that even the Liberal Democrats fit the bill. So as usual It's a case of deciding which party I dislike least.
Andrew Taylor, Nottingham
The Conservatives have a specific timetable for things promised in their manifesto. Unlike Blair who says "give us (yet another) chance" time after time. Howard is saying "if we don't do what we promise - we want be held accountable" - a very bold move. I will certainly vote Conservative.
Ashley Hinton, Didcot
I really think crime, especially young street gangs who attack random people, need to be focused on. I think Howard is not ignoring this, but plans to deal with it in the wrong way. I hope Tony Blair has also put tackling school bullying in mind with his "education education, education" plans.
I find it extremely sad that in a vain and desperate attempt to secure votes, the Tories, as usual play the race card. Perhaps people would vote for them, if they came up with something different for a change.
Maxine H, London
Congratulations Mr. Howard! An election campaign based on nothing but hot air and personal insults? You've had four years to think about it and that's the best you can do? By the way, the expression on your face whilst waving your bit of paper looks awfully like a smirk. You may want to work on that.
John Haslam, Chester
As someone sitting in the top tax bracket, I used to be cynical about the way my taxes were wasted. But I am coming to realise that, while not perfect, a lot of it is going to the needy like children growing up with drug/alcohol addicted parents. If we don't invest in our future and give people the chance to better themselves, then we risk sinking into the gutter like many states in the US. For this reason I will NOT be voting for the Conservatives. Their narrow minded cynical exploitation of the greedy "me, me, me" culture will burden us with social and economical problems for the future.
The Tory manifesto is summed up by the front cover - a mix of lower and upper case letters, and some scribbled handwriting like on the back of a re-used envelope. Allowing matrons to close wards infected with MRSA: where will the (already infected) patients go, to another ward? Won't this just lead to whole hospitals being closed down - herein lies the real agenda?
I am 56 years old and struggle to pay my mortgage on my own. No party has mentioned my age group. I have worked since I was 15, never asked for a penny off the state and yet I seem to have been forgotten.
Jan Williams, Bracknell
How awful that Michael Howard is so against immigration. His own background is an immigrant one. As a Jew he should show an empathy with all individuals who want to carve out a better life for themselves and grandchildren. Howard, Letwin, Saatchi and Rifkind are all from immigrant backgrounds. The Conservative slogan should be: "Vote Conservative and look how well immigrant families can do." As a Labour supporter I would then possibly consider changing my protest vote from Lib Dems to Conservative.
Raymond Rudaizky, London
The Tories may be appealing to a small minority of people with this manifesto. But how can you reduce the government's income from tax, yet spend more on public services?
John K, London
There are lots of issues I care about, but as I don't believe anything politicians say, I can only vote for somebody I trust. That rather limits my options. Manifestos are meaningless rubbish. Maybe if they were covered by the Sale of Goods Act they would have value in ensuring we got what we voted for?
I think the government policies on core services such as education, the health service and criminal justice are broadly right, and as a nation we are doing quite well. If the best the Conservatives can come up with in a manifesto is cleaner hospitals, more police and fewer immigrants, then it is hardly a compelling argument to change. It seems the biggest risk to the Labour Party is that Blair is 'past his sell-by date'.
A naked appeal to prejudice and bigotry. I hope the British people see through this and send the Tories to the heavy defeat they deserve.
David, County Durham
Love the way they say 'easier to expel destructive students'. Do they have any idea what those students will do then? What we really need is a school they can be expelled to, a nice government paid boot camp!
Tanja Gommers, Wemyss Bay, Scotland
After much soul-searching, I have decided to vote Conservative. They seem to be the only party that shares the views of the ordinary man on the street. The hard part is going to be telling my staunchly Labour family!
Stuart Honeyman, Edinburgh
Not a single word about climate change - I'm speechless.
Stephen Watson, Brighton
This manifesto is out of touch with modern Britain. I have very real concerns that Tory party immigration policies will play into the hands of racists and bigots. This country needs racial harmony not an opening of old wounds.
The Tories have missed their opportunity to land a knockout blow by promising to reclaim the £5bn taken from pension funds every year by Labour. That said, the focus on common sense policies means they will get my vote. After eight years of Labour, it is difficult to argue that life for British people has improved. The huge problems facing this country require action, not spin.
How can the Tories be allowed to complain about how anybody else is treating the NHS? If it was down to them there wouldn't be an NHS left. They'll be campaigning for the rights of mine workers and unions next!
Does it really matter what the parties put in their manifesto? Recent Governments have shown a complete disregard for their own manifestos as soon as they've won.
Britain has been badly let down since 1997. If you are a hard working, law abiding tax payer this government has made life harder. Taxes have gone up, civil liberties have been curtailed and public services have not become noticeably better. Areas like dentistry and hospital cleanliness have actually worsened. The Conservatives offer good, decent common sense policies that should start to make life better for us all. I will be voting Conservative.
The Tories have always stood for the better off in society and nothing has changed as far as I can see.
Mike Cooke, Chesterton
After voting Labour at the last two elections, I have now switched my vote to the Conservatives. Immigration is the Number One issue for me and the numbers that have entered Britain under New Labour terrify me. I'm disillusioned with all the parties, but I have to vote for someone in the hope that they will do something decisive about this huge problem.
Jamie Shepherd, Bristol
I never thought I would see the day that I would agree with the proposals put forward by the Tories. For the first time in our family's history we will be voting Conservative, simply because we do not trust the liars who call themselves a Labour Government. I am voting Tory this time, they look as if they know what they are talking about, and are prepared to back it up.
Good as far as it goes. But I would like to see more about pensions, withdrawal from Europe or a simple trading agreement. On pensions, give back the £5bn stolen by Mr Brown, add to this the £4.3bn it costs the UK just to be a member of Europe, then give every pensioner £200 a week - it can be done.
C Preece, Tamworth
I am getting fed up with the Tories' comments about hospital cleaning. I was a nursing sister in Bath, MRSA was around in the 90s and things got worse when the Tories forced the NHS to put cleaning services out for open tendering. Sorry Mr Howard, but your party is mainly responsible for the problems surrounding cleaning.
Terri Banford, Warminster
I have been appalled at the way most parties ignore environmental issues. They affect us all and are not confined to limited groupings, in the way pensions, immigration and education are. We all have a duty to care for our planet.
David Brear, United Kingdom
Of course immigration is an issue. What I want to hear is cogent arguments, supported by facts on how to address the issue.
Alan Gilchrist, Brighton
If Mr Howard stopped pussyfooting around over Tory Euro scepticism and instead offered a complete UK withdrawal from the EU, he would walk into Number 10.
For me, immigration and the economy (especially pensions) are the two main election issues. As far as immigration is concerned, this is nothing to do with race. How can it be racial when many established ethnic minority communities have themselves expressed concerns over immigration levels?
Paul P, Birmingham, UK
What is any party going to do for the 45 to 60-year-olds? It's all about people with young children and pensioners. What about the people who have done the family bit but just get forgotten about?
Alan Stewart, Edinburgh, Scotland
Give all pensioners a decent rise, and stop the means testing. Hard working pensioners who saved a little so they could enjoy there old age are having to use it to pay the large council tax rises. The one off payment of £200, though a help, is not good enough.
Catherine, Normanby, England
I would like the next government to wake up to the fact that prisons cannot and should not be run by private companies who's only aim is profit and not the safety of its staff or the general public
Mark Hayward, Middlesbrough, Teesside
One of these days, a political party will offer to bring down state control of every aspect of our society and end the crippling interference of government in healthcare, education and all the key services. One day, a party will offer an agenda of lower taxes and lower spending and an end to state domination.
Mark O'Brien, Leeds, UK
Immigration is the key issue for me. Since when did the British public vote for the present free-for-all presided over by the Labour government? Current policies will lead to environmental and social disaster!
Richard, Kidderminster, England
I am going to vote for the first time in UK. I would like these parties to focus on immigration, health and economy. So far Labour has failed in term of managed immigration. Let's see what the Tories offer before the elections.
Zia Ullah Khan, Luton UK
All this election talk is pointless. The EU controls everything from immigration to employment laws. Each candidate is lying when they say they are going to make things better. None of them work for the people, they work for Brussels.
Kal, Kent, England
I wish the SNP would wake up and smell the coffee. Why use some old has-been like Sean Connery to push their 'message'. He doesn't even live in Scotland - what does he know about the current issues? Perhaps if he were to live here full time and spend some of his millions on helping the people of Scotland rather than financing a bunch of no-hopers like the SNP, then he could speak with some authority.
Ian Riches, Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute
I live in a key marginal. I have so far received two communications; one from the Lib Dems urging me to apply for a postal vote - ironic in the light of the Birmingham ballot-rigging scandal; and one from Labour asking me to sign a petition to save the NHS - after eight years in office they are still trying to act like the Opposition. So far I feel insulted, patronised, and unlikely to vote.
I would like to see the newly elected government tackle utility bills, all of which are rocketing. Poll tax in particular increases each year whilst services it seems are cut. The latest plan, to re-value homes for poll tax purposes, will lead to a giant leap and frankly it's getting to the point where some of us just can't afford any more rises in everyday bills. Water, electricity, it all leaps far more than wages rise.
Kathy Pearson, Cullompton, Devon
The campaigns so far have been imaginative only in giving the electorate a bunch of red herrings. Amidst much hysteria and spin, nobody seems to be talking about the real issues in immigration, taxes etc. And who exactly are these 'faceless bureaucrats' everyone's going on about? It's like a fog. I would like to see a much greater explicit interest and commitment from would-be politicians, pundits and even other voters to social justice and the environment.
Robert, Manchester, UK
I think it's interesting that none of the main parties have mentioned the situation in Iraq and the continuing military presence there. I would vote for a party who pledged to pull our troops out.
Russ, Dundee, UK
I would like to see policies which are based on a clear set of principles. This is why I will be voting Lib Dem - their constitution sets out their beliefs, which are the basis for their policies. I have no idea what Labour, or the Tories actually believe in any more.
Em, Newcastle-under-Lyme, UK
I would like to see manifesto pledges to end Private Finance Initiatives which contract out public services to private companies. As well as increased tax rates on company, inheritance and capital gains taxes to tax the rich their fair share.
Rhoderick Gates, Melbourne, Australia
If political parties want our vote why do we have to pay for manifestos surely the parties get enough though the state for Parliamentary activity? I myself will not be buying one. I will probably download from the internet because of being on low income I will not be able to afford all three of the main parties manifestos plus I can think of better ways to spend my hard-earned cash.
Simon Cramp, Chesterfield
I want to see a party that will bring our troops home from Iraq, a party that will work closely with our European neighbours and a party that will stand proud and not lick the heels of America at every chance it can get.
Edward B-H, Kent, UK
To be honest, who actually reads the manifestos?
As per usual we will get the same politicians stating the obvious about how we need a better NHS, education and economy. What counts these days is delivery not statements.
Matthew Freedman, London UK
Since the UK could end up failing to meet the Kyoto targets on greenhouse gas emissions, this is an issue that all parties need to make a priority. We also need stronger planning controls on mobile phone masts, a halt to new airports, help find new markets for recycled materials and provide for a real expansion in public transport.
I'm sick of politicians slagging off their people from another party. Why can't they stick to telling us what they intend to do and how and let us make the decision about whether it's possible or not?
Madeleine Janes, Hurst Green, E. Sussex. England
It is dishonest to pretend that there will be no tax rises, and then increase NI contributions, fiddle about with thresholds, and force increases in council tax.
Paul Rowlands, Bracknell
I want to see less right wing rhetoric about asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups and more emphasis on help for them. I want the government to be bold and increase taxes if they have to improve public services. I want more help for young people to PREVENT them going into crime instead of always being obsessed with punishing them, once it's too late. I also want to see less confrontational style politics and more cooperation, with a PR voting system for Westminster. And I want the British PM to stand up for this country's interests and not America's as Blair has done recently. However I also want us to integrate fully into Europe as we can't solve all the world's problems on our own.
Iain Smith, Grangemouth, Scotland
I am an overseas voter (a Brit living in Belgium) and I bet that no manifesto mentions the overseas vote. Most people are probably not aware that after living outside of the UK for more than 15 years you lose your right to vote. I have friends (ironically working in the European Parliament) who can no longer vote in the UK General Election, but they can't vote in the Belgian one either because they're not Belgian. They can now only vote (as Belgian EU residents) in tts) in the Belgian local elections and in the Belgian European elections.
Rebecca, Brussels, Belgium
I would like to see a common balance sheet which each party would be required to complete. This would show where they intended to raise money (taxes) and where they intended to spend it. This would allow at-a-glance comparison between parties and would provide the basis of measuring their performance post election.
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England
I would like to see controlled immigration, adequate punishment for criminals, less waste on public sector managers and pen-pushers and more frontline staff (doctors, teachers, police officers etc). Take a sledgehammer to the layers and layers of managers and non-jobs in councils and government (like the legions of "accessibility" coordinators and managers) and use the money saved to improve services instead of fiddling figures to look like things are improving. If there's money left over give it back to taxpayers. I work hard for my money and don't want to subsidise the work shy in their cushy lifestyles.
John B, UK
The usual pie-in-the-sky promises, which they have little or no intention of keeping!
Why have none of the parties mentioned anything about the cost of fuel, be that for the home or the car? With the cost of diesel/petrol rising almost daily, surely this would be a good hot topic to beat the government with?
Torquil Nicolson, Micheldever
Immigration. Reduction in council tax. Abuse of civil rights laws by immigrants. Stop attacking and whittling away cherished British institutions.
B. Murry, Penzance
I expect each party to spin the facts to support their viewpoint whenever they are reacting to any issue. If you want to know the real facts then you are going to have to find things out for yourself.
Kevin, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
We will not introduce 'top-up' fees and will legislate to prevent them.
Peter green, Tyne Wear UK
I expect Labour's manifesto NOT to mention National Insurance rises after the election. I am informed that a bill has been passed in the last week of parliament that will allow NI contributions to be classed as general taxation and included in the pot!! Sounds very worrying.
The Lib Dems' policies will appeal most to the student/young voters and the pensioners. The trouble is that the young (although the most supportive of any age group) are the least likely to turn out, and the pensioners (although the most likely to vote) have been voting all their lives and the least likely to swap to a different party. I'm 17 and if I could, would certainly vote Lib Dem.Lib Dem.
Chris White, Newbury, England
The Conservatives have been jumping from one issue to another very quickly so that by the time Labour have responded, the Conservatives have shifted the focus to someone else. If they can keep this going for another month then they have a chance.
Danny Jones, Walsall
I expect the Tories to promise anything, especially tax cuts and more pro active laws on immigration. However, they won't be too keen to tell us about cuts in services, schools and the NHS being hit, to pay for their rich friends' massive increase in disposable income. They have had their chances and have blown them.
Vic, Marton, England
I really hope we see some big commitments to the environment in these manifestos. For too long British politics has not given environmental issues the attention they need.
The policies should be about how money spent on war should be spent on bigger pensions and no tuition fees. We should also be raising income tax on the richest, so that we can address address the widening gap between rich and poor. This is why I eagerly await the release of the Respect Party manifesto.
The campaigns so far have been hollow promises with parties all out to discredit one another. But mud-slinging is not what voters want. Promising the moon in order to delude and gain votes is a form of deception and is also not what the electorate want or need. Voters want to see better education for their children, greater job security, unemployment rights, retirement benefits, fairer taxation and better health facilities. If politicians can tackle tax, education, health and social welfare they will be doing real justice to voters. But the tragedy is that very few politicians live up to the promises so enticingly enshrined in the party manifestos.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium
A commitment to opt out of the EU Food Supplements Directive, the Herbal Medicines Directive, and the Novel Foods Directive which all restrict people's right to make informed choices about their health.
I believe that we should have massive reform of the way Parliament works. We have a House of Commons where even if you have a small majority, you have incredible power because the House of Lords does not have enough power to stop you.
What do I expect? A pack of lies as usual.
John C, Bath, England
I want to see a serious commitment to rolling back the state. If someone offered me some major tax-cuts combined with the ability to opt-out of the NHS and put my National Insurance payments into private healthcare, they'd get my vote. You can buy a lot of private healthcare for £450 a month!
Roger Price, Reading
They will probably focus on the vote-grabbing emotive issues, such as jobs, education, direct tax and the NHS. However, I hope that they focus on simplifying the tax system and supporting British small businesses. I will read any manifestos that I see, although will not believe a word that Labour's says because they are known for breaking their promises shortly after each election.
David Gould, Halesowen, England