It’s that stage of the political cycle where the parties launch their manifestos in a blatant attempt to persuade you, the voting public, to support them in exchange for some rather dodgy promises that have all the life expectancy of an icecube in a blast furnace.
Considering the track record of manifesto commitments, I’m not sure if they are even worth reading this time around. In fact, I think it’s time to publicly admit that these documents are little more than blatant marketing tools which should come with the following warning.
The media, of course, just love this tidal wave of political guff. They orgasm as august personages, and reputable financial organisations, are dragged into the limelight and charged with trying to work out if manifesto spending “commitments” (commitments – defined as promises that will be abandoned at the first opportunity once a party is elected) are actually realistic. Since when has any political party used a “realistic” approach to attract the votes of the electorate? It would be like a car manufacturer marketing a new vehicle in terms of pollution created combined with a list of projected design faults.
Face it, politicians have been using the dark arts of marketing since the time of Gilgamesh. They’ve had epic poems composed to celebrate their greatness and incised their names into the brickwork of their fortresses as a way of declaring their power. Today, politicians use PDF documents instead. They’re a lot lighter and easier to send out with press releases. But the aim is still the same. To persuade the masses to support one leader over another.
Manifestos are the modern version of those Mesopotamian bricks. Declarations of aspiration rather than binding contracts and they should be treated as such. If Labour promise to tax rich types into the ground then you can be assured that this is just posturing for the benefit of their more Left leaning supporters. They won’t really do it as they know it’ll just kill the golden geese who they need to prop up their policies and the UK as a whole. The Tories will blather on about “hardworking families” and “balancing the books” but will do no such thing. The LibDems? Who knows what they’ll promise as it doesn’t matter a tinker’s cuss. They’ll soon be entering a state of electoral oblivion from which they may never emerge. The smaller parties, like the Greens and UKIP, can promise whatever they want. They know that they’ll never hold power except through a coalition. That’s great for them as they can say to their supporters some guff about not being able to deliver on their manifesto commitments because the big bully they have got into bed with is just too mean to listen to them as they prop them up in Parliament.
So what I’m saying is that if you expect a political party to treat its manifesto as some sort of contract between you and them then you’re going to be mightily disappointed. At best, you should think of these “commitments” as a verbal guarantee from a backstreet secondhand car dealer. Something to be treated with extreme caution and a bucket load of cynicism.