It started raining halfway through Rishi Sunak’s speech unveiling his election manifesto for the 2024 election – weather I felt reflected the subdued atmosphere in the conference centre room at the Silverstone race track.

The problem with announcing a policy platform at a race track is that it is metaphor-central: either the Tories are hitting fifth gear, nearing the finishing line or lapping their opponents.

Or they are struggling to get out of reverse, they are stick in the pit lane, or they have run out of petrol half way through the face.

The Conservatives’ problem is that tomorrow’s newspapers are almost certainly going to fall in to the latter camp as for me there was not enough in the 76 page manifesto document to put rocket boosters in the party’s poll rating.

Rishi Sunak

Time is running out on the governing party and its efforts to convince voters to give them an unprecedented fifth term in office


The manifesto might have promised “bold action” on the front page of the manifesto but the contents short of that. Yes Sunak said he will halve net migration, but that is because of policies announced in the last Parliament.

The party has spent the past three weeks of the election campaign revealing bits of its manifesto in order to get the party moving upwards in the polls. But nothing has worked.

That’s why so much of the manifesto – apart from new plans to axe National Insurance for most of the self-employed by the end of the decade – sounded so familiar.

So when he had a chance to be even bolder – perhaps like stating explicitly that he would take the UK out of the European Court of Human Rights if it frustrated efforts to tackle the small boats crisis – he pulled his punches.

There was also nothing on cutting or axing Inheritance Tax, or cutting income tax. Instead we had more of the same, such as another 2 per cent off National Insurance by 2027 (the 4pc cut off NICs has failed to lift the party in the polls so far this year).

There is a balance here – Sunak cannot afford to announce uncosted policies, and there is simply not enough money left presently as the UK pays the bills left by the Covid pandemic and the energy shock after the war in Ukraine.

But equally he has to try something bolder to cut through to voters, whose response so far has been to shrug their shoulders at the party’s offerings.

We are half way through the election campaign now – and the Tories’ poll rating have failed to improve.

Now the Conservatives have published their manifesto, with a pledge to keep on cutting taxes – notably with axing National Insurance for the self-employed – in the final years of this decade.

But time is running out on the governing party and its efforts to convince voters to give them an unprecedented fifth term in office.