For some politicians, practising what you preach is more difficult than you might imagine. Take for example, Nick Clegg who is back in the news … and no, not for his dashing looks on sexymp.co.uk (he’s a limp 139th).
The Liberal Democrat leader said in last year’s manifesto, ‘don’t settle for low politics and broken promises’. A noble sentiment. Isn’t it funny then that Clegg, who is happy to criticise his LabCon rivals, is partial to a few ‘broken promises’ himself. After trying to take advantage of the recent unpaid internship row, Nick pledged to set up a national scheme where interns would be paid the minimum wage. Fast forward to this week and an advert appeared to work at the exciting Cowley Street address, with, um, sandwiches and Tube fare thrown in. No salary though of course – the thrill of doing good must be enough to sustain young Cleggites.
Forgetfulness, Nick, or was it opportunism?
What is it about MPs? Do they suffer from sudden memory lapses? We, the voters, don’t forget. Perhaps MPs should keep a manifesto in their briefcases for future reference, or pore over one from time to time to remind them just why they were elected and what we expect them to do now they’re in.
If targets aren’t met in the real world you might lose money, be disciplined or, in the worst case scenario, lose your job. Many MPs seem to think they are untouchable, that they can cruise their way through their parliamentary term without consequence.
Advertisers are attacked for misleading consumers with their embellished mascara ads with models airbrushed to the nines. Manifestos should be scrutinised in the same way. If make-up ads can be banned for promising the impossible, surely ‘fake’ MP pledges can be subject to the same procedure. ASA, get on the case!
It is time we held our MPs accountable for failing to deliver. If our hapless MPs were on The Apprentice, Lord Sugar wouldn’t hesitate to point the finger. Isn’t it time we took a leaf out of the Lord’s book? For years we have let politicians of all parties get away with poor performance. If a minister fails they may be shuffled out, but it’s never very long before they pop up somewhere else.
‘Accountability’ was a big talking point during the dull yet important AV debate. Both camps spoke out how their way would make MPs more accountable. David Cameron told an eager audience of Nos: ‘I believe there should be real accountability between the pledges politicians put in their manifestos and the action they take in government. AV would damage that chain of accountability.’
Accountability is a prime ministerial buzz word. Cameron spoke of it during the general election last year as well as during the AV debate. But since the nation voted a resounding no, he has been quite quiet about it all. Why, following that success, are we nowhere nearer to getting any ‘accountability’?
Come election day, your average voter - unless they are strongly Lib/Lab/Con/other - will vote according to the policies most suited to their circumstances. The way that these people have been let down, after believing the politicians’ promises, is shameful. It is like we have been lured in by the glossy packaging – only to find the same mediocre product is underneath.
At least when we order a product online and it is not up to scratch we can send it back. Where is our money-back guarantee with MPs?
Once they’re over the threshold of Number 10 Downing Street we get the usual claptrap that they can’t do what they said they would do after all, that there are financial implications, that it isn’t feasible, that there are unforeseen unforseeables (cough, British Bill of Rights, cough, EU referendum).
Yet despite their reservations, they are happy to put them on the manifesto. Do they not spend time thinking things through? Costing up? The logistics? Apparently not. It’s just pie in the sky.
Vince Cable for example opposed the support of the arms trade while lurking in the shadow opposition yet despite this, he happily took up a post as Business Secretary in the coalition, which is actually rather keen on increasing our share in the arms markets.
The Lib Dems may claim they have to make sacrifices due to their power share such as the NHS reforms, and rubber stamp other policies that don’t quite sit with them but there is no excuse for going back on your principles.
Like the adage, power corrupts … especially it seems when it comes to the Liberal Democrats.
It is time that politicians faced up to their duty to put responsible policies on their manifestos, that they strive at all costs to achieve them and if they can’t, well, they know where the door is.
Lord Alan wouldn’t put up with this in his boardroom. So why should we?