Compared to Labour’s manifesto, which offered everything to everyone, yesterday’s Tory manifesto launch felt almost ascetic.
Much of what was in the document had already been announced, and such surprises as were in evidence were not the type to change the direction of the election.
The Conservatives will be eminently relaxed about this; some in the party were even asking why they had to do a manifesto at all, since only those with skin in the game pay much attention to them.
For the government, this election is to be presented as a binary choice — between a blue-collar Tory party and the red in tooth and claw socialism of the Labour party.
From a business perspective, there is enough to like: a new visa to ensure skilled workers can stick around for longer, reviews of business rates and investment reliefs and commitments on infrastructure spending.
Free ports are nothing to be sniffed at, either, if they’re delivered properly.
And in terms of fiscal restraint, the gap between Labour’s spending commitments by the end of the parliamentary term — £83bn, even without sudden pension bungs and nationalisation costs — and the Tories’ £3bn is striking in and of itself.
Even the Institute for Fiscal Studies was surprised, saying yesterday that “the lack of significant policy action is remarkable”.
So yes, the manifesto not being a Marxist programme for government is probably enough for some in the City, who fear the ruinous economic plans which would be visited upon the country if Labour contrive a way into power.
But in truth, the B-word overshadows the lot. Given that the Tory slogan is “Get Brexit Done” there remains precious little detail of how the Conservatives intend to deliver their key policy (leaving with a deal) by December 2020.
For while the last three years have been at times interminable, the Withdrawal Agreement remains the easy bit of leaving the European Union.
The document on which Boris Johnson will campaign makes several optimistic assumptions about the speed with which his government can negotiate a future trade deal with the EU. One could in fact describe those assumptions as bordering on heroic.
The party cannot be criticised for lacking ambition in what it wants from Brussels, but it remains to be seen whether it can deliver.
Johnson has launched a modest, reasonably sensible manifesto and though questions remain over the funding of some key pledges — notably regarding infrastructure — he deserves credit for juxtaposing himself against Labour’s fantasy economics.
And yet, while he promises us a Brexit-free Christmas, he must know that the issue will rear its head in the New Year — and it could yet prove to be the hangover from this election.
Main image: Gety