Policy pledge fails to build bridges between parties

Severn toll booths

You wait years for a manifesto pledge on Severn Bridge tolls and then two come along at once.

No sooner had Labour's UK manifesto arrived, with a pledge to work with the Welsh Government to scrap the tolls, than the Conservatives made a similar pledge.

Or, to be precise, a press release arrived bearing the headline: "Theresa May: I will abolish tolls on Severn Crossings between Wales and England."

The Conservatives put the cost of maintaining the bridges - which will be done by Highways England - at just £7m.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and UKIP were swift to point out the Conservatives had stolen another one of their policies. The Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru pointed out that they too wanted to scrap tolls. Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.

Labour's manifesto looks rather similar to last week's leaked version. The paragraph on Wales has been beefed up to include the promise of a new Wales Act. "We will bring forward legislation to make the devolution settlement more sustainable as set out by the Welsh Labour government in its alternative Wales Bill, including the devolution of policing."

'Victory'

Professor Richard Wyn Jones saw that as a "significant victory" for Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones as the party accepted proposals in a shadow Bill recently rejected by Welsh Labour MPs. The alternative Bill will presumably be vying for parliamentary space with the legislation needed for Brexit.

The final manifesto also includes the draft version's "presumption of devolution" when powers return from Brussels and a promise to make up the shortfall of EU funds. Richard Wyn Jones views the presumption of devolution as "another victory" for Carwyn Jones.

The first minister himself said the value of the "beefed-up Welsh Labour presence" in the manifesto process was clear to see. "Significant support for our key priorities-economy, infrastructure and power closer to the people."

He said the Welsh party would build on the plans in its manifesto, which is due to be published on 22 May.

Although the UK version is not Welsh Labour's manifesto, it does feature policies that would have a wide impact on people in Wales - from the reversal of benefit cuts to significantly higher public spending, funded by taxation and borrowing, and the rejection of plans to increase the state pension age beyond 66.

You can download the manifesto here. And find out how they plan to pay for it here.

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