Looking at the manifestos

Below you will find links to the manifestos of the three main UK-wide parties for the general election on May 6. It’s not our role to suggest to those of you living in the UK with the right to vote how you should vote. The one thing we would suggest is that you consider carefully what the parties are proposing.

What is clear is that the state of the economy and the policies necessary to tackle economic problems are central to all the manifestos. As a student of economics, you should be able to assess the manifestos in terms of how the parties set out the economic problems facing the UK and what they propose doing about them.

So look through the manifestos below and then answer the questions we’ve posed about the UK economy and about the economic policies being proposed. If you are uncertain about how to answer them, then ask yourself what extra information would I need to enable me to give a good answer.

The manifestos (in alphabetical order)
The Conservative Party manifesto
The Labour Party manifesto
The Liberal Democrat Party manifesto

Other sources
We are reluctant to recommend newspaper articles, as all newspapers at election time tend to be highly partisan and are therefore likely to give you a very specific ‘spin’ on the parties’ proposals. Perhaps the two best independent sources are the BBC and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. See:
Election analysis 2010 Institute for Fiscal Studies
Election 2010 BBC News
Stephanomics Stephanie Flanders’ blog (this links to the archive).


  1. How do the analyses of the economic problems facing the UK differ between the three manifestos?
  2. Compare the policies of the three parties for cutting the public-sector deficit. Consider the following issues: the size and nature of any cuts in government expenditure; the size and nature of any tax increases; the timing of the meaures.
  3. What assumptions are being made about the determinants of aggregate demand over the coming months and the role of fiscal policy in this?
  4. Compare the policies of the three parties towards the distribution of income. To what extent have the parties taken into account possible incentive/disincentive effects of policies of redistribution?
  5. To what extent are the parties proposing using the tax system to tackle problems of externalities? Give examples and assess how effective the policies are likely to be.
  6. To what extent do each of the manifestos leave you with unanswered questions about the economy and how their proposed policies will tackle economic problems?