What does the Reform Party manifesto mean for careers

My tour of the manifestos has now reached Britain populist right wing party the Reform Party (the people who brought you Brexit). At the time of writing they are surging in the polls and looking to capture around a sixth of the votes. Because of our weird electoral system this is only likely to result in a handful of seats, but at this stage of the game who knows. So, what do they have planned for the country and for careers in particular.

Reforms’ manifesto is called Our Contract with You and there is some nonsense about it being different from other kinds of manifestos. It is of course just a wish list and a lot of rhetoric; in other words the same as all of the other manifestos, but it does tell us a bit more about the complex set of ideologies that make up Reform’s thinking.

A lot of the media and commentariat have got quite angry about Reform’s manifesto. Pointing out that is not very well costed and contains lots of promises that don’t add up. The Institute for Fiscal Studies are particularly scathing about its failings. But, this seems a little unfair to me as the sums in all of the other manifestos don’t really add up either. Everyone is promising a better world and saying that it won’t cost anything. Yes, Reform are more brazen than the others, but the basic sin is the same. If you want a general overview see the BBC’s explainer and for a more analytical take that tries to get to the bottom of Reform’s appeal see this piece by Aaron Bastani.

Overall the message is that life is shit, Britain is broken, woke is out of control and it must be someone’s fault. Unsurprisingly the blame is placed at the feet of the political establishment (where they have a point), wasteful government (which is probably more difficult to address than they suggest) and immigrants (which is clearly stretching the truth, but is entirely expected). The solution is a mix of spending and tax cuts, targeted schemes to reward and benefit the deserving working person and a crack down on anything with the whiff of woke, particularly any green policies. There are also some interesting things hiding in there like bringing some utilities into public ownership and proportional representation. It is at times a confusing mix.

But, so far their contribution to careers has been very poorly discussed and this post hopes to figure out what they really have to say.

Careers

Sadly the manifesto has nothing to say about careers or career guidance.

Education

It does however have quite a bit to say about education. Schools are too pro-transgender and not pro-British Empire enough (both transphobia and an enthusiasm for the military are spread through the manifesto). In other words the problem is not that schools are too political, but rather that they are the wrong sort of political. Disruptive pupils are bad and should be excluded, independent schools are good and shouldn’t be taxed.

Universities are OK, but we need less of them and they need to be more committed to freedom of speech. Students shouldn’t pay as much in student loans, but ideally degrees should be shorter (at least for some people). Student loans could even be written off for healthcare workers.

Surprisingly there is nothing on vocational education. But there is some stuff on providing better education for those in military service, in part to help them to transition to civilian life. T

Employment

Work should be made to pay by reducing income tax.

Unemployed people should be supported back to work (career guidance / employment advice isn’t directly mentioned but it is implied). But, benefit conditionality should also be ramped up to try and force people back into work.

Overall

This is probably exactly what I would have guessed it would be. A mix of populist policies drawing mainly from the right, but occasionally from the left to try and create some kind of sense that they have more to offer than hating immigrants. So far it seems to be working and more and more people are rallying to their flag. Those in the liberal centre have a choice as to whether to engage with why they are growing in popularity (ie what has gone wrong) or to just trust in our first past the post system to short-change these insurgents (what could possibly go wrong with this approach).

Meanwhile we are waiting to hear what they have to say about career guidance, whilst fearing their plans for education and the public employment service.

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