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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Do we really have a choice?

Ed Miliband: Cost-of-living crisis will be at heart of general election manifesto 


Ed Miliband: Pledges and promises

Some years ago, there was a belief amongst many people in this country, that the only time  you see politicians around your local area was at election times. They were everywhere. Knocking on your door for a quick "Will you vote for me?" conversation on your door step, outside one or other of the local supermarkets on Saturday mornings with their placards and leaflets and very eager to shake your hand or kiss the baby as you went in with your trolley. All the candidates, helpers canvassers could be seen crossing and recrossing the housing estates and moving up and down the leafy avenues and terraces, filling the pavements in the local high street promising the earth in their drive to be the next member for where ever and hopefully to form part of the next government.
The other belief turning into stark reality the day after polling day, was that they are all the same once they get elected. As with all generalisations, there is a grain of truth in the comments, but with "You only see them at election times" and "They are all the same once they get elected" that generalisation was and is, more than solid fact.
Today things are entirely different in so far as, even before the election takes place, you already know that no matter who you vote for, they are all the same, not after they get elected, but before they are elected as well. The similarities are plainly visible.
Over the past decades we have all witnessed how promises, pledges and commitments made by one party or another, have all been discarded or (indefinitely) postponed for one reason or another, but usually blamed on the previous government leaving the country in a far worse condition than the new government had anticipated. At every television debate, or press interview or any other opportunity, from the day following the election, to the eve of the next election, the government MP's trot out variations of the same old cliche. The inability to implement policies and manifesto commitments are all due the the "economic mess we inherited from the last government". 
This week, it is Ed Miliband on the election promise trail, promising  to create “hundreds of thousands of high-skilled, high-paid private sector jobs”,  doubling the £2 billion a year earmarked for local growth projects by the Coalition, and requesting that councils and universities prepare to implement  an interim “growth plan” published  by Lord Adonis. Miliband has also been promising to "rescue Britain’s struggling middle classes" by boosting living standards to combat the  “cost-of-living crisis”, which he argues "will last for at least another five years".

Cameron and Glegg: Pledges and promises

Coming hard on the heels of promises by Cameron, Osborne and others for the Conservatives, the usual populist "binding pledges" from the Liberal Democrats, (remember the pledge and the subsequent commons vote on tuition fees), the perhaps rather nebulous views of Farage and his UKIP, the pledges and promises will come thick and fast between now and the next general election on  7 May 2015.
Regardless of what the spin doctors of left and right may put out for public consumption, no matter what the press and media may offer as reasons why one party rather than another should gain your X on the ballot paper on May 7th next year, now matter what television station may urge you to vote (forget television "impartiality" when it comes to election time), the fact remains that with marginal variations on emphasis and time scale, the people of this country have no real choice in their selection for a party to form the next government.
Not only are they all the same once they get elected, at least we now know that they are all the same before they get elected too, no matter how much they may try to convince us otherwise.