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Thought on manifestos

June 30, 2012 4:49 PM
By Paul Appleby Boston and Skegness
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

I think this may be my first time instigating a topic on this forum.

Did anyone else hear "The Weak In Westminster" (as I like to spell it) on Radio 4 this morning?

A Tory opponent of Lords' reform opined that the Conservatives had fulfilled their election manifesto as it had only contained the promise they would "bring forward proposals" for Lords' reform. He considered the proposals having now been "brought forward", there was no obligation to do anything further such as proceed to a vote or allocate Parliamentary time!

And people in politics wonder why the public have lost faith in political parties!

But we have far from clean hands ourselves as LibDems in contributing to this dangerous disillusion. (If you think dangerous is a bit strong I'm sending another message later about the descent into single issue populism in Boston specifically.)

Dare I mention tuition fees?

It's rare I have a political thought but I think the only way we can restore this trust is by being much more specific in manifestos at every level what we are promising to actually do about the issues we are campaigning on. .

We need to say on every single policy do we mean:

a) if invited to form a coalition with a party that will not agree to this we would rather force a second election or have the weakness of a minority administration running the EU Parliament/country/county/district - or in cases we might actually be able to form a majority ourselves, we would push to implement this policy whatever else might have to be cut or postponed in the agenda

to z) in ideal world this is something we'd quite like but we'll probably never get enough support and/or be able to afford it, so we aren't too bothered really if it never happens

and all points in between.

In this bloke's view, obviously, the Tory commitment to Lords' reform was at z) level - and perhaps he's even right - but in order to restore trust, I believe we have to remove that ambiguity that people can argue in this weasel way.

Some of the political but disillusioned with parties want manifestos to be legally binding. Despite having a typically LibDem bias against self-regulationr of e.g. the Press or banks, I would this time be in favour of political parties having a chance to sort this out themselves before resorting to that.

And we may as well start with us. Hopefully someone planning to attend the Lincolnshire CC election manifesto mini-conference in Gainsborough in September will read this.

Paul Appleby

Boston and Skegness

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