New bank holidays, a cap on energy bills and a crackdown on female genital mutilation are among the policies proposed in the General Election campaign so far.
The major parties have yet to publish their manifestos for the election on June 8, but senior politicians have started to announce the policies they will be standing on.
The Conservatives have revealed their manifesto will include a cap on household energy bills – prompting comparisons with a ‘price freeze’ proposed by Labour in 2015.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, says a Labour government would introduce four new bank holidays for each of the patron saint days of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Employers groups have hit out at the proposals, saying they would cost the country up to £2 billion in lost productivity.
But Mr Corbyn said the scheme would celebrate the ‘historical diversity’ of the country and claimed it would be ‘roughly neutral’ in terms of its impact on the economy.
While these policies have hit the headlines, experts say it will be difficult to assess each party’s campaign until they publish their manifestos.
Mick Temple, professor of politics at Staffordshire University, said: “I think we need to remember that it is still early days, and we haven’t seen the parties’ manifestos yet. Labour have been talking about these four new national holidays, but that’s certainly not going to be their core message.
“That is going to focus on Brexit, protecting the NHS and removing privatisation from the health service.”
The Conservatives say their proposal for a price ceiling for customers on standard variable energy tariffs would save families around £100 a year.
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green claimed this policy differed from that proposed by Labour in 2015.
He said: “There will be a lot about energy policy in the manifesto. I think people feel that some of the big energy companies have taken advantage of them with the tariffs they’ve got.
“The difference [with Labour’s price freeze] is that we would have Ofgem setting the limit, it would be a cap so it would be more flexible.”
While the Conservatives will be targeting ‘just about managing’ families with policies such as the energy bill cap, they have so far refused to rule out future tax rises.
Dr Temple believes this could be a problem for the Conservatives.
He said: “If the Tories aren’t the low tax party, what do they stand for? They have always stood for a smaller state and lower tax. I think it would be very dangerous for them to hint at future tax increases. They’ve already had to do a U-turn on National Insurance.”
Today also saw the launch of Ukip’s Integration Agenda, which proposed a bans on face coverings in public and sharia law, and the introduction of annual medical checks for girls at risk of female genital mutilation.
Ukip leader, and former Stoke-on-Trent Central candidate Paul Nuttall, said: “What we want to see is people sign up to British law, sign up to a British way of life and indeed enjoy the full fruits our great society has to offer.”
Dr Temple believes these policies will appeal to Ukip’s core support. He said: “Quite clearly Ukip have decided that they will not repeat the mistakes of the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election. They are concentrating on the issues that are important to their supporters, which are Islam and immigration. But I think it would be a mistake to equate Ukip with the racist Front National in France. The reasons why people vote for Ukip are more complex than that.”
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