Fleet Street’s reaction to the Conservative manifesto was predictable – with the Daily Mail and The Sun giving their full support to Theresa May.
The Mail called the Tory manifesto an “extraordinary document” and backed “honest” May “wholeheartedly”, while the Sun said the election was a “no-brainer” for its readers.
The Daily Mirror said May would “make life harsher” for working people and the Guardian said of May’s manifesto title: “Forward Together, says Mrs May, but where to? Nobody knows.”
The Times said it welcomed the Conservative pledge to repeal the Section 40 cost provision law that would see newspapers forced to pay both sides legal costs in a court case, win or lose.
Here’s a round-up of national newspaper front pages today and leader columns on May’s manifest:
By any standards it is an extraordinary document. Detailed, deadly serious, utterly candid and unashamedly moral, the Tories’ 84-page manifesto yesterday unveiled Mayism (a word she hates) and British politics entered a new era.
Gone were the gimmicks, glitz and disingenuity of the Cameron and Blair eras, and the cynical manifestos replete with pledges their authors had no intention of keeping. Nor did Theresa May try to exploit her opponents’ weakness by playing safe.
Instead, with a clear ethical – even Christian – tone, this vicar’s daughter took the riskier option: to be unremittingly honest with the public about the great challenges this country faces, to spell out how she intends to confront them and to promise only what she can deliver.
Her approach is not without risks, especially if she drifts too far to the Left (particularly on the minimum wage).
But if she leads Britain through Brexit, restores the alliance of blue collar workers and Middle England voters who swept Margaret Thatcher to power, and implements even half of her ambitious programme, she could transform this country. In doing so, she would restore trust in British politics so badly damaged in recent decades.
The Mail believes wholeheartedly she must be given the chance.
Strip away the spin and it’s plain that Theresa May would make life harsher for the working people of our country.
Behind the Tory leader’s deliberately misleading talk of fairness is fundamentally the same old Conservative substance.
It’s a manifesto that would do little good for this nation’s strivers and, in some cases, considerable harm should the Tories sweet- talk their way to victory on June 8.
You don’t have to look too hard to find her saying one thing and doing another.
We heard the same soft soap from David Cameron and remember how that turned out.
Never in The Sun’s history has an election thrown up a choice so clear-cut and a conclusion so obvious for our readers.
It is between an extremist Labour Party longing to test their teenage Marxism to its inevitable
Or a Tory party which was serious, grown-up and honest yesterday about Britain’s problems and the difficult solutions to them.
But let’s get real.
The Tories alone will see Brexit through while keeping our economy on track, taxes low and taking serious and bold action to improve Sun readers’ lot.
It’s a no-brainer.
The dream of every serious politician is to win power and use it to positive effect. Unlike David Cameron, who governed only in coalition or with a wafer-thin majority, Theresa May now has a chance to realise that dream.
This is partly a result of the abject failure of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn to present a viable alternative for government. It is also her reward for keeping her head when all about her lost theirs in the aftermath of last year’s referendum. She has shown she is a clever and measured politician. Her pitch to voters is that she can be a consequential one as well.
This newspaper has noted that Mrs May does not lack ambition. She does not lack courage either. Unlike the policies in the Labour and the Liberal Democrat manifestos, those published yesterday will in all likelihood be enacted, and she will be judged by them.
She has listened, for example, to the case for greater protection of press freedom and is to be commended for ruling out a second Leveson inquiry. The first inquiry was comprehensive. Ending the threat of the draconian legal costs regime proposed in Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act is likewise welcome.
Mrs May is stubborn — sometimes admirably so — but she must retain that capacity to listen and will perhaps absorb this criticism: there is much in her programme for those “just about managing” but little for those who aspire to more than that.
Self-starters, by definition, are not inclined to turn to the state for help. Britain depends on them for its prosperity, and if the state becomes a drain on their energies a smooth Brexit will be the least of the casualties.
Theresa May has left voters in no doubt of the kind of Britain she wishes to build, if she secures a strong personal mandate in next month’s general election.
In launching her manifesto, she rejected Thatcherite individualism, and indeed all ideology, promising “mainstream government for mainstream Britain”.
In broad outline, this appears to mean a more interventionist approach to both economic and social affairs than previous Conservative governments would have countenanced. It is an unabashed attempt to seize the unoccupied centre ground.
Mrs May has delivered a manifesto in her own image: a clean break with the Notting Hill set. But if she is to turn meritocratic Middle England into Global Britain, she needs to show greater appreciation of the economic realities.
The key word in the Tory manifesto slogan – “forward, together” – is “together”. The goal is to unite a divided country by winning former Ukip and Labour voters over to the Conservatives.
This necessitates, in Theresa May’s view, an emphasis upon pragmatism rather than ideology. This is not to say that she is motivated by political calculation.
The Prime Minister wants a politics that responds to people’s genuine needs and is shaped by morality. Mrs May is trying to craft a Toryism for the times.
Mrs May gives the impression to voters that she alone has the leadership qualities necessary to deliver all of this – and in many ways this election is simply about who one trusts to see Britain through difficult times.
So the manifesto sweetens that deal – and woos former Labour voters – by pledging that Mrs May will use the machinery of government to help “ordinary, working families” who, it claims, “have been ignored by politicians.”
Theresa May’s manifesto reveals more about her plans to refound the Conservative party than her plans to run the country. Her programme for the Tories would read as a heretical document to many in her party, brought up on a diet of state-shrinking, me-first Thatcherism.
Like Tony Blair in 1997, Mrs May is where the majority of voters are: to the left on the economy and to the right on social issues.
She plays to this mood, a political judgment that risks society closing in on itself rather than opening up. She is surely sincere in saying she wants to change Britain for the better. But she missed opportunities here.
In favouring meritocracy, she erodes her recognition that success is mutually created. Meritocrats believe their own myths about succeeding on their own. It is why Mrs May has ended up with a wrong-headed obsession with grammar schools.
Flourishing happens in complex webs of relationships. The counter to inequality is community, but it is also complexity and cooperation. Simplistic solutions risk entrenching privilege rather than challenging it. Forward Together, says Mrs May, but where to? Nobody knows.