A lot has changed since the Conservative Party won its landslide victory in the 2019 general election. There’s been a global pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, a cost of living crisis, and of course, a change in prime minister.
But it isn’t just the global circumstances or the country’s leader that has changed. When Boris Johnson secured the keys to Number 10 three years ago, he also published a manifesto which outlined the Tories’ key plans for the coming years. And in her first few weeks in office, Liz Truss has backtracked on several of them.
This has prompted significant criticism from opposition parties - as well as some extraordinary clashes amongst Conservatives as politicians row over whether or not the Prime Minister has a mandate for her radical new agenda. Critics have argued that it was partially Johnson’s manifesto that won him his 80-seat majority back in 2019 - meaning it was these policies that people voted for, and not the ones being pushed at present.
Tory manifesto co-author Rachel Wolf for example has argued that “Liz Truss partly won the leadership race due to perceived loyalty to Boris Johnson - but this Government has now junked everything he stood for.” She then made the point that the current administration has neither a “democratic or parliamentary mandate”. Meanwhile, former Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries said Truss should call an election - writing that “no one asked for [these policies].”
With this in mind, NationalWorld has taken a look at the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto pledges that Liz Truss has scrapped since being made Prime Minister - as well as a few that look like they’ll be ditched in the near future.
‘We will not support fracking’
The 2019 manifesto highlighted the fact that the government had “placed a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect.” It also outlined that it would not support fracking “unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely” after concerns about earthquakes were raised.
But in September, Truss lifted the ban in a manifesto U-turn as part of plans to curb skyrocketing energy bills. She told Parliament: “It is vital that we take steps to increase our domestic energy supply. We will end the moratorium on extracting our huge reserves of shale which could get gas flowing as soon as six months where there is local support for it.”
This announcement came despite the fact that no new “science” had shown fracking “could be done safely”. In fact, according to The Guardian, a leaked report from the British Geological Survey revealed that little progress had been made in reducing and predicting the risks of earthquakes caused by the practice - with “significant knowledge gaps” remaining.
During the Conservative Party’s annual conference this year, Greenpeace campaigners interrupted Truss’ speech to protest against the government’s support for fracking. Holding up a “who voted for this?”sign, they heckled the Prime Minister before they were removed by security. One of the protesters, Rebecca Newsom, told PA Media after the incident: “In a healthy democracy, people should get the government programme they voted for, but Liz Truss is putting most of it through the shredder.”
‘Keep debt under control’
In 2019, the Tories promised “we will ensure that we are always spending what we can afford - with strict limits on borrowing and repayment.” The manifesto also claimed “debt will be lower at the end of the Parliament - rather than spiralling out of control under Labour.”
But now ex-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini budget contained £45 billion worth of “unfunded tax cuts” which are to be funded through borrowing, with no explanation of when the debt will be paid. Slammed by experts as “incompetent”, in addition to breaking a manifesto pledge, the move also caused chaos in the financial markets - chaos that shows no sign of letting up any time soon.
‘Lead the global fight against climate change’
While Truss has committed to delivering on the government’s “world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050” that was promised by the Tories in 2019, many would argue the UK is no longer leading the “global fight against climate change”.
Last Friday, the government announced a new licensing round for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, with nearly 900 locations being offered for exploration and as many as 100 licences set to be awarded. This decision comes despite warnings from international climate scientists that fossil fuel projects should be closed down, not expanded.
The Prime Minister assured the public the move will “secure [the UK’s] long-term energy supply”, get “better energy prices” for people and “reduce reliance on authoritarian regimes”, but environmental experts argued that even if fast-tracked, any new production would not be available for years and so would not help to address the current crisis.
‘Extra funding for the NHS’
Despite a key Conservative pledge being to boost NHS funding, Truss and Kwarteng reversed the 1% national insurance hike which was introduced by former Chancellor Rishi Sunak to give extra funding to the NHS.
Truss said she would maintain the funding through extra borrowing, but there have been no details as of yet. Others are concerned this will not be the case though, as during the Tory leadership race, the South West Norfolk MP announced plans to divert £13 billion of NHS funds to clear the coronavirus-related social care backlog.