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The Guardian view on the Conservative manifesto: an exercise in fiscal fantasy and denial | Editorial

Rishi Sunak’s insistent repetition of the word ‘plan’ doesn’t compensate for an absence of serious engagement with the challenges Britain faces

The start of the Conservatives’ election campaign was defined by spectacular errors of judgment, but even the slickest launch would have come unstuck on the question of whether the incumbent party deserves a fifth term in office. The record is too grim.

The manifesto published on Tuesday did nothing to dispel the impression of a demoralised party bereft of ideas. The ideological kernel of the document is a conviction that cutting taxes and social security boosts enterprise and prosperity. Rishi Sunak proposes a 2p reduction in national insurance and its abolition for people who are self-employed. The prime minister pledged to reverse what he called the “unsustainable rise in working-age welfare”. Hypothetical revenue is also conjured up by shrinking the civil service. Relying on a crackdown on tax avoidance raises the question of why it hasn’t been done over the last 14 years.

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