The two main political parties of Britain have launched their manifestos ahead of what are expected to be one of the most bitterly-fought general elections next month, but their rhetoric disguised a blurring of once-sharp ideological boundaries.
Beset by the country’s most bruising recession since World War I and having supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, both ruling Labour and opposition Conservatives have been remarkably short on the big ideas that have traditionally set them apart.
In an election dominated by economic issues — pulling off economic recovery while closing a gigantic budget deficit is the main challenge — both parties have been reluctant to give out details of massive spending cuts that are expected to follow the May 6 election.
Launching its manifesto at Battersea power station — a south London landmark famous for being on the cover of Pink Floyd’s album Animals — Conservative leader David Cameron extolled the virtues of One Nation Conservatism that defines the left wing of Britain’s party of the right.
Both Labour and Conservatives agree public spending cuts will have to be harsh in order to narrow a budget deficit of some £159.2 bn.
But the only specific measure voters have heard so far has come from Labour, which says it will raise the amount of a compulsory state insurance that all workers and businesses pay in order to fund an elaborate social security system, including free health, schooling and allowances for the jobless.