Saturday, 24 March 2012

What's In Your Manifesto?

There has been some discussion amongst people I follow on Twitter of forming a break-away party with those who are unhappy with the role the Liberal Democrats have played in the coalition government.

I'm not the only one who thinks the Lib Dems can be saved but I thought it was an interesting thought - and what would my political party do? Put your manifesto in the comments.

My manifesto

- Evidence based government. Make policies based on the best research of the time, and set the methods down as law. My government would not be afraid of the "humiliating U-turn" if the evidence tells us we're heading down the wrong path. Indeed, when the majority clearly believe the government is heading down the wrong path excuses about not making U-turns feel very shallow.

- Enforce the findings of government inquiries. There's no point to an inquiry if the government decides to ignore findings it doesn't like. If government doesn't want to know the answer, don't ask the question - doing so is a waste of time and money.

- Strengthen manifesto pledges. It is highly frustrating when you elect someone based on principles and promises which seem to be forgotten the moment they get into power. Parties should register their most important promises, along with deadlines, with an independent body. A majority ruling government would be punished somehow (and I haven't worked out how...) for failing to enact something they promised to enact by the deadline they set themselves, and would have to call a referendum to do anything they promised not to do. This would require a cheaper way to run referendums, thought, as at the current pace they could become quite common. However, it would give voters confidence that the party they elect is committed to doing what they say they will do.

Problems with this

- How do you punish a government? You can't really fine them, and forcing them to call a general election is unwieldy and could be used tactically to consolidate themselves.

- Legally binding manifesto pledges could become problematic as times change. Furthermore, weasel words are easy to use to avoid anything bad happening here. Hung parliaments and coalition governments would have to be exempt, or else open a whole new can of worms.

- Evidence and ethics aren't the same thing. Evaluating weak research is probably not something most MPs know how to do, but to give someone the task of doing this would allow them to guide parliament to an unacceptable level.

Improvements? Disagreements? Better ideas? Leave them in the comments.

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