SWINDON took centre stage once again yesterday after David Cameron and the entire Conservative cabinet came to town to launch the Tory election manifesto.
In a speech at the town’s new University Technical College (UTC), Cameron insisted the Tories are the “real party of working people”.
Alongside him were political heavyweights William Hague, who visited Swindon just last week, George Osborne and Theresa May.
In what has been described as a ‘business and family friendly’ manifesto, Cameron went on to promise 30 hours a week of free childcare for three and four-year-olds and declare that no one earning the minimum wage would pay tax.
“At the heart of this manifesto is a simple proposition,” Cameron said. “We are the party of working people, offering you security at every stage of your life.
“A good life should mean that raising your family feels like an incredible and joyful and, yes, sometimes exhausting journey but it shouldn’t be a struggle with the bills.
“For families with young children, this is not one issue among many – it is the issue. They’re asking ‘How can this work? How can we afford it?’ It shouldn’t have to be this way.
“If Conservatives are in government, we will change the law so that no one earning the minimum wage will pay income tax. Yes: the tax-free minimum wage.”
Since the election began the town has also seen separate visits from Labour leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.
The South Swindon marginal is being seen as a major battlefront between the two parties as it only had a 3,500 Tory majority at the last election.
The national media descended on the town to hear the Prime Minister’s address, with Cameron using the new UTC building as an example of the government’s investment in education, as well as praising the work of principal Angela Barker-Dench in his opening gambit.
Excalibur Communications and Swindon Publications owner James Phipps – pictured at the bottom – who was in the audience , said: “I think this is great for the profile of Swindon and it’s great for the profile of the new UTC. I think for the first time in the election campaign it was a very positive message that came out rather than the kind of personal stuff between individuals. They were focussing on the future. It’s a date Swindon can be proud of. You’re not going to get an election manifesto launch like that here very often in my lifetime.
“David Camerson spoke about what a good job UTC was doing. Whether you’re a Tory or not a Tory I think anyone in the room would have been impressed with what they saw and heard.
“It’s a major coup for Swindon without a doubt. To get the entire cabinet in one place at one time. It shows you how important Swindon is. We’ve always been seen as the average place with the average population and I think they’ve decided to pick their fight here on our lawn which actually can only be a good thing for Swindon because it not only improves the profile, but also it puts more attention to the needs of the local people that they need to address.”
After the manifesto launch Theresa May MP joined South Swindon MP Robert Buckland went on a campaign walkabout in Old Town.