It may because the two main parties are so close in the polls but the manifestos of the two major parties are increasingly looking like lists of bribes. The headline Conservative manifesto consisted of the extension of the right to buy to tenants of housing associations. This was unexpected although, as ever, leaked earlier. Many of the other manifesto commitments were predictable, a re-statement of 2010 ambitions and obvious reactions to the UKIP threat with promises to deal with Immigration concerns, Defence and a re-labelling of foreign aid as International Development.
The surprise was the right to buy statement, I must admit I am not sure about how it would work. Can the government force housing associations to sell? How is it funded ( a common theme in each parties manifesto promises) ? Is it a method of reducing the burden of housing benefit? How is it linked to building new starter homes? I think this is a gamble, there are many voters regardless of political affiliation to whom this will be unpalatable. There is a housing problem in this country but does this not make it worse?
There is an argument that had the Tories met their commitment to get immigration down to tens of thousands a year then there would not be such a housing shortage. At current levels , it’s like having a new Stockport or Peterborough landing in the country every year with undeniable consequences for Health, Education and Housing.
What is also interesting is how the political parties choose to leave the London/Westminster bubble and to decamp to their political heartlands to deliver these manifestos. Manchester for Labour and Swindon for the Conservatives rather than the chattering supper tables of Islington and the Cotswolds respectively.
The Greens launched their Magic Faraway Tree manifesto (or should that be personifesto?) in Dalston yesterday. Dalston is in London you know, an edgy hipster neighbourhood where asylum seekers from the Congo ride the bus with bearded onesie wearing digital managers. It’s also not too far from Stoke Newington, once parodied by Alexei Sayle as a place where the people knitted their own yoghurt. Somehow entirely appropriate.