Published on 26 November 2019
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‘Where’s the money coming from?’ Tracing the history of manifesto costings in UK elections, 1955 – 2019


Dr. Peter Sloman

Peter Sloman is University Senior Lecturer in British Politics at POLIS and a Fellow and Dean at Churchill College. Before joining POLIS in 2015, he spent ten years in Oxford as a student at Queen’s and a junior research fellow at New College.

Peter’s research focuses on electoral politics, political ideas, and public policy in modern Britain. His first book, The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929-1964 (Oxford, 2015) explored how British Liberals engaged with economic thought in the era of John Maynard Keynes and William Beveridge. His second book, Transfer State (Oxford, 2019), examines how the idea of a guaranteed minimum income has shaped British social policy over the last century.


November 2019

About this Report

This is a working paper titled, ‘Where’s the money coming from?’ Tracing the history of manifesto costing in UK elections, 1955 – 2019.

Dr Peter Sloman looks through the history of manifesto costing in the UK to answer questions on the politics of spending promises.

It should be clear from this historical survey that manifesto costings have been a ritual feature of British general elections for more than sixty years. Tax and spending lie at the heart of British political debate, and recent contests in other Westminster democracies such as Australia and Canada show a similar pattern. The Westminster model of majoritarian, single-party government forces parties to aggregate their policies before each election and draws the electorate into the budgetary process.

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