Britain's Conservative Party has unveiled a campaign manifesto that it hopes will help it to victory in next month's general election. Among other things, it extends a scheme to help low earners purchase homes.
Prime Minister David Cameron used a speech in the southern English city of Swindon on Tuesday to launch his Conservative Party's manifesto, asking voters to give him a mandate to "build on foundations" laid during the past five years, in which the party has governed in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
He also claimed that during this time, he and his government had "turned a great recession into a great recovery."
"At the heart of this manifesto is a simple proposition," Cameron said. "We are the party of working people, offering you security at every stage of your life."
Expanding the 'right-to-buy'
The flagship of the 83-page manifesto is a pledge to extend the "right-to-buy" scheme, which was first introduced by former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1980 to 1.3 more tenants living in subsidized housing. Under the scheme, low earners are given the opportunity to buy their rented residences at a heavy discount.
It also promises that a Conservative government would build 200,000 starter homes to help first-time buyers under the age of 40 to get on the real estate ladder.
However, critics of the right-to-buy scheme say it has actually worsened Britain's housing crisis by reducing the number of affordable housing units available.
Cameron, though, has said this wouldn't happen under his plans, as it would require each unit sold to be replaced on a one-for-one basis.
Seeking to sway the wavering and undecided
These and other proposals appeared designed to try to attract working-class voters who may be wavering in their support of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
The manifesto also includes a promise to hold a referendum on Britain's membership in the European Union, a pledge that is not actually new, but appears meant to appeal to former Conservative supporters who have abandoned the party for the euro-skeptic UK Independence Party.
With just three weeks to go before the May 7 election, the Conservatives and Labour appear to be running neck-and-neck. A TNS opinion poll released on Tuesday gave the Conservatives 34 percent support, with Labour on 32 percent. A recent YouGov survey, though, gave Labour an edge of one percentage point.
pfd/jr (dpa, Reuters, AFP)