- Sunday 7 May - 32 days until the General Election
- By David Wood, Political Correspondent
As is tradition on a Sunday morning various senior political party officials are touring the television and radio studios fighting for their policies and trying to come up with that sound bite that will lead the news bulletins well into the evening. After the Lib Dems talked tax and the NHS yesterday, Labour and the Conservatives are keeping those topics as today's talking points too. Labour is addressing tax and the economy, which is a risk as polling suggests the party is not trusted with the nation's budget. So what if Labour's economic policies change that?
Well, that is exactly what Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is attempting to do this morning. Teasing ahead to his party's manifesto (surely to be released within the next ten days or so) he insists that all policies will be fully costed. Mr McDonnell has promised no rises in VAT and National Insurance Contributions as well as no rise in Income Tax for 95% of tax payers, basically those earning below £80,000 a year. He says that his party is the party of low taxes (something Theresa May is saying her party is all about). Mr McDonnell says this shows that 'only the Labour Party is promising to stand up for working people'. This is a policy that will be popular with Labour's core voters, but to win this election the party has to attract more voters than just their core ones. When we get the manifestos and can look at the figures, that will be when Labour's economic credibility (or lack of) will be on display.
In response, the Conservatives argue that 'voters can guarantee Corbyn would raise taxes' and go on to claim that his economic ideas do not add up. Meanwhile the Lib Dems say these plans are not worth the paper they are written on because of the party's 'inability to form a proper opposition, let alone a Government'.
One area where Theresa May is vulnerable is the NHS and it is a key issue right across the West Country, especially in places like Devon. It is on health where her party is trying to seize the agenda today. The PM wants to change the Mental Health Act to tackle discrimination and commit 10,000 more staff working in the NHS' mental health services by 2020. This will cost almost 1.5 billion pounds. Now Labour describe these promises as 'warm words' that will not help the situation and that the Tories are failing to give mental health the same priority as physical health.
The NHS can be a real trump card for Labour during this campaign if the party can shift the agenda away from Brexit. But the problem for them is that to make changes to the NHS the party needs to raise cash to do it, and that means their economic policies will be under the spotlight, an area the party isn not always trusted. All the parties' manifestos will be set out in the coming weeks and this is when we can mark all their sums!