Sunday 4 October 2009
Never mind the policies, what about the voters?
Everyone knows that the Conservatives will win the next General Election. The only question is the size of their majority. That is why the LibDems and Labour resorted to pretty desperate measures at their respective party conferences last month.
Both parties resorted to scare tactics: “Don’t vote for the Tories. If elected, they will do this that or the other.” But in the next breath they accused the Conservatives of not having any policies. Well make your mind up!
However, the reality is that you do not need to have policies to win an election. When Labour won their landslide victory in 1997, it was not because the public thought Tony Blair was the Messiah who would lead them to the promised land. It was simply because, after almost 18 years in power, the public were fed up with the Conservatives and wanted a change. John Major could have promised to abolish income tax – it would have made no difference.
The Conservatives will win the next election on the same basis – the public are simply sick and tired of this discredited, incompetent and sleazy Labour government and want them out .
In any event, what is the point of making policy announcements when the public no longer believe anything politicians say?
The Labour manifesto of 2001 stated: “We have no plans to introduce University top-up fees, and have legislated to prevent their introduction.” But once returned to power, Labour did indeed introduce top-up fees.
Their 2005 manifesto said: “The new Constitutional Treaty ensures the new Europe can work effectively… We will put it to the British people in a referendum.” During the run up to the election Gordon Brown said: “It's not as though this is being imposed on the country. People will have the chance to put their views.”
History will recall that the same Gordon Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty without giving us the promised referendum.
At the last election, Tony Blair promised to serve a full term and people voted on that basis, but all the while Gordon Brown was plotting behind his back to depose him.
In Barnet, the public voted for a Conservative council led by Brian Salinger but unbeknown to the electorate, disgraced councillor Brian Coleman had tabled a vote of no confidence in Cllr Salinger during the election campaign itself, which resulted in Mike Freer being installed as Supreme Leader, even though Salinger had delivered the best election result for the Tories for 16 years.
There were 216,717 registered voters in Barnet at the last election, yet we have a leader chosen by a mere 21 people.
At the last General Election, the Conservatives polled more votes in England than Labour, but Tory voters have been entirely disenfranchised by an electoral system that is no longer fit for purpose.
The public have grown weary of politicians who promise one thing and deliver another. Accordingly, there is a desperate need for electoral reform in the UK – at local level and national. Until we have a system where politicians are fully accountable to the public – for their words and deeds - then election manifestos are not worth the recycled paper they are printed on.