Thirteen years of Tory governance – manifesto promises vs reality. Part 4: 2019

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Welcome back, readers, to our scorching series where we’ve previously dissected the 20102015, and 2017 Tory manifestos. Today, we turn our critical eye to the 2019 Tory manifesto, continuing our journey through a decade of Conservative rule marred by unmet promises and political chaos. Our previous analyses have laid bare the stark reality of a party struggling with its identity amidst a backdrop of Brexit-induced turmoil and a revolving door of leaders. Now, we delve into the 2019 chapter, a period defined by a jarring mix of ambition and ineptitude, where the promises made to the nation largely remained unfulfilled, leaving the landscape of British politics both fractured and disillusioned.

Since their victory in December 2019, the Tories have witnessed a whirlwind of leadership shifts. Boris Johnson’s tenure from December 2019 to September 2022 was followed by Liz Truss’s brief stint until October 2022, and now Rishi Sunak’s ongoing term. These rapid changes in the Prime Minister’s office reflect a party grappling with its direction and identity.

The Chancellor’s role saw similar turbulence: Sajid Javid’s term until February 2020, Rishi Sunak’s leadership until July 2022, followed by Nadhim Zahawi, Kwasi Kwarteng, and currently, Jeremy Hunt. The Foreign Secretary’s post shifted from Dominic Raab to Liz Truss, then James Cleverly, and now Lord David Cameron. Meanwhile, the Home Secretary’s position changed hands from Priti Patel to Suella Braverman, briefly to Grant Shapps, back to Braverman, and currently to James Cleverly.

This analysis delves into the post-2019 Tory rule, a period characterized by rapid changes at the highest levels of government, symbolizing the party’s struggle with consistency and effective governance. We’ll scrutinize the manifesto commitments against this backdrop of political upheaval, offering a candid perspective on their impact and the current state of the nation.

Fact Sheet: The Tory Government (2019-Present)

Government Tenure Began: December 2019 Ongoing: As of 2023

Leadership since 2019:

Prime Minister:

  • Boris Johnson: December 2019 – September 2022
  • Liz Truss: September 2022 – October 2022
  • Rishi Sunak: October 2022 – Present


  • Sajid Javid: July 2019 – February 2020
  • Rishi Sunak: February 2020 – July 2022
  • Nadhim Zahawi: July 2022 – September 2022
  • Kwasi Kwarteng: September 2022 – October 2022
  • Jeremy Hunt: October 2022 – Present

Foreign Secretary:

  • Dominic Raab: July 2019 – September 2021
  • Liz Truss: September 2021 – September 2022
  • James Cleverly: September 2022 – November 2023
  • Lord David Cameron: November 2023 – Present

Home Secretary:

  • Priti Patel: July 2019 – September 2022
  • Suella Braverman: September 2022 – October 2022
  • Grant Shapps: October 2022 (19-25 October)
  • Suella Braverman: October 2022 – November 2023
  • James Cleverly: November 2023 – Present

National Result


Composition of Parliament


The 2019 Tory Manifesto


  1. No income tax, VAT, or National Insurance rises: ✅ (Partial)
    • The Tories’ pledge to keep taxes steady was more of a tightrope walk than a straight path. Freezing thresholds brought a stealth tax through fiscal drag, and the NI flip-flop was a fiscal dance that left many dizzy. It’s like promising a diet but changing the recipe – the end result isn’t quite what was on the menu.
  2. Pensions rising by at least 2.5% per year: ✅
    • They kept the pensions promise, but in the face of skyrocketing inflation, it’s akin to giving a fire blanket in a blazing inferno. It’s more about holding onto a political lifeline than genuinely safeguarding the elderly’s financial wellbeing.


  1. Increase the number of nurses by 50,000: ✅ (Debatable)
    • The boast of 50,000 new nurses is a numerical mirage, blending training, recruitment, and retention into one figure. It’s like claiming victory in a marathon by counting those who joined at the halfway mark.
  2. No one selling their home to pay for care: ❌
    • This manifesto mirage promised much but delivered a foggy reality. The so-called safeguarding of homes in the face of care costs turned out to be as robust as a house of cards in a storm.


  1. Reach net zero by 2050: ✅?? (Undermined)
    • The Tories’ commitment to net zero is like a chameleon in a kaleidoscope – constantly shifting and hard to pin down. Recent policy adjustments suggest more of a backpedal than a forward march, turning a race against climate change into a reluctant stroll.
  2. Spend £9.2bn on energy efficiency of homes, schools, and hospitals: ❌ (At Risk)
    • Their energy efficiency funding pledge is like promising a feast and serving a snack. The funds trickle falls short of the manifesto’s banquet, leaving many in the cold.


  1. Introduce a points-based immigration system: ✅
    • The points-based system, a badge of control, ironically led to a surge in net migration. It’s like installing a new lock but leaving the door wide open.
  2. Reduce net migration to below 100,000: ❌
    • The ever-elusive migration target remains a distant dream, more of a political mirage than a realistic goal. It’s like chasing a horizon – always visible but forever out of reach.


  1. Leave the EU and get Brexit “done” early in 2020: ✅ (Contentious)
    • Brexit was achieved, but at what cost? The ‘oven-ready’ deal turned out half-baked, leaving a taste of chaos in matters of immigration and trade. It’s like leaving a party in a huff only to realize you’ve left your coat and dignity behind.

Childcare and Education:

  1. Create 250,000 extra childcare places: ❌ (Inadequate)
    • The promise of a quarter-million extra childcare spots during holidays was a tepid attempt at addressing a boiling issue. It’s like offering a cup of water to douse a house fire. The plan, restricted to holiday periods and a fraction of the needed capacity, barely scratches the surface of the profound childcare crisis.
  2. Freeze tuition fees at £9,250: ✅ (Short-sighted)
    • Freezing tuition fees was like hitting pause on a ticking time bomb. It’s a temporary relief, but without a long-term solution to the soaring cost of higher education, it’s like delaying a journey without changing the destination.

Economy and Welfare:

  1. Spend more on research and development: ✅ (Uncertain Impact)
    • Pouring money into R&D was like placing a bet on innovation – a forward-thinking move, but the tangible outcomes remain shrouded in the fog of future possibilities. It’s like planting seeds in a garden not yet built.
  2. Continue the roll-out of universal credit: ✅
    • Persisting with the universal credit rollout was like steering a shaky ship through a storm. Necessary, yet fraught with challenges and complaints, it’s a journey marked by turbulence rather than tranquility.

Infrastructure and Transport:

  1. A new Manchester to Leeds rail line and £2bn for potholes: ❌ (Delayed and Divisive)
    • The promise of better connectivity between Manchester and Leeds is more of a distant prospect than an imminent reality. And while £2bn for potholes may smooth some roads, it’s like putting a plaster on a fracture, barely addressing the vast transport infrastructure needs.
  2. High Speed 2 (HS2) Rail Project: ❌ (Controversial and Over-budget)
    • HS2, the high-speed railway connecting the North and South, became a symbol of over-ambition and under-delivery. It’s akin to promising a sleek sports car and ending up with a clunky, overpriced sedan. With spiraling costs, delayed timelines, and contentious land acquisitions, HS2 turned into a political and financial quagmire, sparking debates over its viability and value for money.
    • In addition to this, Rishi Sunak announced a reduction in what HS2 would mean – it would be merely a High Speed Link between London and Birmingham with no onward lines.

Overall Percentage Fulfillment of the 2019 Manifesto: A mere 40 per cent

The Tories’ 2019 manifesto fulfillment is like a firework that fizzled out – plenty of initial noise, but ultimately lacking in spectacle. With a measly 40% completion rate, it’s clear they’ve been serving up half-baked policies with a side of disappointment.

On the economic front, their so-called steadfast approach to taxes turned out to be more wobbly than a three-legged table. They played a sly game of fiscal hide-and-seek, freezing thresholds and twirling NI rates like a chaotic dance, leaving taxpayers in a lurch. It’s like being promised a stable bridge but finding it’s made of matchsticks.

Healthcare commitments? More like smoke and mirrors. The grand claim of 50,000 new nurses was nothing but a numerical sleight of hand, a clever trick that’s as transparent as a glass door. It’s akin to claiming victory in a marathon by hitching a ride halfway through.

The environment? Oh, they talked a big game about net zero by 2050, but recent policy flip-flops show more backtracking than forward progress. It’s like pledging to run a marathon but then deciding a leisurely stroll is good enough.

Migration policy was a classic case of talking tough but tripping over their own feet. The points-based system they trumpeted led to an ironic surge in net migration. It’s like setting a mousetrap and catching your own fingers.

Brexit, their crowning jewel, turned out to be more Pandora’s box than treasure chest. The ‘oven-ready’ deal was half-baked, unleashing chaos in trade and immigration, proving they were more chefs of confusion than of statecraft. It’s like they threw a grenade and then walked away whistling.

Childcare and education pledges were as uninspiring as a damp firecracker. The promise of 250,000 extra childcare places was a drop in the ocean, a mere band-aid on a gaping wound. And freezing tuition fees? That’s just stalling the inevitable, like putting a ‘Closed’ sign on an already shuttered shop.

And let’s talk about their infrastructure and transport debacle. HS2 turned from a fast train to the future into a slow trudge through a bureaucratic swamp, over-budget and underwhelming. It’s like promising a supersonic jet and delivering a one-winged glider.

In summary, the 2019 Tory manifesto fulfillment was a parade of half-hearted attempts, broken promises, and missed opportunities. It’s a testament to their talent for over-promising and under-delivering, leaving a legacy of disillusionment and cynicism. With a 40% completion rate, it’s not just a disappointment; it’s a political farce.

An Excruciating Saga of Ineptitude and Betrayal

The Tory government’s stint has been nothing short of a catastrophic farce, a grotesque parade of incompetence and broken promises. They’ve steered the ship of state not with the seasoned hand of Odysseus but with the grace of a drunken sailor in a tempest. As the nation reels under a crippling cost of living crisis, their governance resembles a nightmarish voyage into the abyss, with the crew seemingly asleep at the wheel.

The handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was a masterclass in disastrous mismanagement. Their response, riddled with fumbling indecision, was akin to bumbling clowns at a funeral – inappropriate, disrespectful, and painfully out of touch. This wasn’t leadership; it was a catastrophic comedy of errors with a death toll that writes its own grim punchline.

Now, the once-great Britain flounders in a cesspool of poverty and desperation, a far cry from the promised land of prosperity and stability. The Tories’ economic policies have been like pouring gasoline on the fire of poverty, watching the flames rise while holding back the water.

The NHS, our national treasure, is now a beleaguered and battered institution, its once robust frame now a skeleton, barely holding together under the strain. Public services, systematically gutted, resemble a desolate wasteland – the ruins of a once proud and functional system.

In the midst of this despair, the government’s spin machine whirls with dizzying, nauseating fervour, churning out hollow promises and empty rhetoric. It’s a cyclone of deceit, where truth is lost in a whirlwind of lies and half-truths. The leadership’s carousel has been a grotesque merry-go-round of incompetence – from May’s ignominious retreat, through Johnson’s buffoonery, to Truss’s blink-and-you-miss-it debacle, culminating in Sunak’s vanishing act. It’s less of a government and more of a tragic circus, with each act more absurd and disastrous than the last.

Asking whether we can trust this Tory government is like asking if we can trust a fox in a hen house. Their tenure has been a relentless onslaught on the public’s intelligence and patience, a saga of unmitigated arrogance and failure. They’ve turned governance into a farcical pantomime, where the villains remain on stage while the audience suffers.

In sum, this period of Tory rule will be remembered as a dark comedy of errors, a time when hubris and incompetence collided with catastrophic consequences. It’s a narrative of a government that promised to steer us to calm waters but instead capsized the ship. In this grotesque theatre of the absurd, the only applause comes from the echoing laughter of those who see the tragic irony in it all. The Tories have not just failed; they’ve imploded spectacularly, leaving the country in the ruins of their calamitous reign.

A Final Thought

Reflecting on the Tory manifestos from 2010 to 2019 reveals a decade marred by a staggering litany of failed promises and political ineptitude. Each manifesto, a patchwork quilt of grandiose aspirations, ultimately unfolded into a narrative of unfulfilled commitments and policy misfires.

The 2010 manifesto heralded a new era with pledges of economic revival and social reform, yet it spiraled into austerity measures that widened the socio-economic chasm. The NHS and education sectors, rather than being bolstered, were left gasping for air under the weight of budget cuts and systemic neglect. The promise to rejuvenate the economy morphed into a grim reality of increased inequality and a struggling middle class.

Come 2015, the Tories doubled down on their rhetoric, echoing the hollow promises of the past while adding a few more to the pile. Notable among these was the pledge to rein in migration, a target consistently missed and mired in controversy, reflecting a deep disconnect between policy and practicality.

The 2017 manifesto was an epitome of chaos, underscored by the Brexit saga – a divisive, ill-conceived venture that left the nation reeling in a whirlwind of political and economic uncertainty. The promise of a smooth Brexit transition was nothing short of a pipe dream, resulting in disrupted trade, a tarnished international reputation, and a deeply divided society.

By 2019, the script remained unchanged, plagued by lofty pledges amidst a backdrop of continuing Brexit confusion, economic turbulence, and an impending global health crisis. Key policies like the pledge to introduce 50,000 new nurses, or to not raise taxes, were manipulated through creative accounting or outright abandoned.

In essence, the Tories’ decade-long rule has been a masterclass in political subterfuge – a series of manifestos that promised the moon but delivered only a handful of stardust. From economic policies that favoured the wealthy to social initiatives that barely scratched the surface of deep-rooted problems, this has been a journey of missed opportunities and strategic blunders. It’s a sobering reminder of the chasm between political aspirations and the harsh realities of governance. The Tories’ journey from 2010 to 2019 isn’t just a tale of policy shifts; it’s a saga of disillusionment, leaving a nation grappling with the consequences of a decade lost to political grandstanding and unfulfilled promises.