Surprisingly, given the influence of David Melding on their policy in Wales, I found the Tory manifesto to have a certain lack of focus; I had expected more clarity. It’s not that the individual policies proposed aren’t clear or specific – the advantage of having the shortest manifesto is that it is, of necessity, more succinct. I just couldn’t see where it was going.
Certainly there is a theme of saying that Labour and Plaid have managed things badly. And certainly, just like the other three parties, there are a large number of proposals which could happily sit in any of the four manifestos. And rhetoric about ‘ambition’ abounds here, as elsewhere.
Torn between not wanting to say anything that the boss in London wouldn’t like, and not wanting to say anything that puts them too far outside the Cardiff Bay consensus, the result reads to me like an attempt to make ‘not a lot’ sound like a lot more than it is.
It would be very aesthetically pleasing for me to end this little tour of the four manifestos by saying that the theme of ‘we can manage Wales better’ is as clear cut in this manifesto as it was in the others, and maybe that’s what they really mean; but somehow, they seemed to stop short of actually saying it. Perhaps they don’t really believe it themselves.
I suppose that creates a distance, of sorts, between them and the other parties, but it’s not exactly a very positive one.