The 2010 general election was the most dishonest election in my lifetime. An amazing situation where all 3 main political parties were stating there would be massive cuts in public services, but would not tell the electorate how they would do it. The public had to chose between 3 candidates who would not say who would be affected or how.
As a result the electorate couldn’t chose and we now have a coalition government.
Who lied the most? Well we could argue it was the Labour party as they had all the figures, and deliberately and cynically delayed the comprehensive spending review so they did not have to tell anyone where the cuts would be before the election. Or we could say it was the Conservative Party who stated they wanted to employ cuts much deeper but wouldn’t tell us how.
So we ended with a coalition, and many are saying that the lies and u-turns is that the two political parties have to compromise . But if we take a look more closely, we can see that this is not really the case. If we look at the stated policies and promises below we can see how they have been affected by the coalition.
Promises and Policies
- David Cameron stated that he would not cancel the EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance)
- David Cameron stated that family allowance would not be affected and it was safe under a Conservative administration
- George Osborne and David Cameron both denied that they had any plans to raise VAT and that the Labour party was trying to “scare” the electorate (Evening Standard, 2010)
- The Conservative party said there would be no major top down reforms of the NHS in this parliament (Lansley, 2009)
- Nick Clegg stated unequivocally that he and all 57 MP’s would vote against ANY increase in tuition fees (Libdem manifesto, 2010)
- The Conservative party policy stated that failures in the penal system and law and order was due to Labour’s failed policies and anyone convicted of a knife crime would go to prison and more prison places would be made available (Conservative Manifesto, p57)
- George Osborne stated that Labour had not regulated the banks enough and no one working in a Bank that had been saved by the state should get more than a £2,000 cash bonus (Conservative Party website, 2009)
- Bonfire of the quangos. To get rid of quangos to make them more efficient, accountable and more cost effective (Cameron, 2009)
- David Cameron now says EMA’s don’t work and is scrapping them, always quoting one survey supporting this view that 9 out of 10 students would still do the course even if the EMA was withdrawn, ignoring other evidence and a larger body of evidence that suggests EMA significantly increases the chances of students starting and finishing the courses in higher education
- Family allowance is cut for a section of the population
- VAT increased to 20% and no statement to state if this is permanent or not, although Greorge Osborne has stated he considers the 50% higher rate of tax to be a temporary measure.
- The largest most far reaching reforms of the NHS have been announced since 1945, costing several billions of pounds at a time the government is strapped for cash. Causing uncertainty in the service and without a consensus or rolling the changes out giving evidence the changes are working – THIS FAR REACHING REFORM WAS NOT IN THE MANIFESTO
- Tuition fees increased by up to 300%, although with some progressive safeguards, these could easily be over turned at any time by future administrations
- Kenneth Clarke has announced the biggest turn around in prison and law and order policy known in the UK. People voted for the Conservative Party to be strong on law and order and to build more prisons. They have announced a closure of 3,000 prison places. fewer people to be sent to prison and declaring that prison does not work
- George Osborne we now know in recent negotiations tried to water down EU recommendations for regulating the banks. There will be no limitations on bonuses (Monbiot, 2011)
- The bonfire of the quangos was more like a child’s sparkler. They failed to understand that many of the quangos actually do something and there is no one else to do it. The restructuring was announced without any research into who will carry out the functions after the restructuring or how much it will cost. It could well cost more than it did before the reforms. The House of Lords, the biggest quango in our country has been bolstered by the Conservative party with a massive new intake to increase support for the coalition. There is no timetable for reform of the upper house.
I know what the government would say, oh we are in a coalition and we have to make compromises or there was a black hole in the finances and we have to make tough decisions. Both of these explanations do not explain what has gone on here.
First of all, none of the policy U-turns listed above are as a result of there being a coalition, except for the tuition fees. However, this is also dishonest as we now know that the leadership of the Liberal-Democrats did not believe in the policy before the election and wanted to change it. Surely dishonesty to the last. (Watt, 2010)
So what about the black hole?? As the cuts are in line with those projected by the Tory party before the election and that the debt was lower than expected when they came to office, this argument is quite ridiculous.
It is not about whether I agree or disagree with some of the U-turns or changes of policy, but that the electorate voted for parties on the basis of a set of policies which have now been torn up in the faces of that electorate not due to coalition politics but due to dishonesty and cynicism.
The argument expressed by the Conservative leadership before the 2010 election was that a new election would relieve us of a corrupt parliament following the expenses scandal. Actually, this is far from the truth and we now have dishonesty ingrained into our Parliament and Government.
This is not so much an example of a NEW POLITICS but a reflection of an OLD CORRUPT POLITICS GONE MAD
BBC website, (2011), Quango reduction plan botched, say MP’s, [online], BBC website, available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12132341
Cameron, D. (2009), David Cameron: People Power-Reforming Quangos, [online], Conservative Party website, accessed 29/01/20011, available at http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/07/David_Cameron_People_Power_-_Reforming_Quangos.aspx
Conservative website, (2009), No Bank Bonuses over £2,000, [online], conservative Party website, accessed 29/01/2011, available at http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2009/02/No_bank_bonuses_over_2
Conservate Party Manifesto, (2010), Invitation to join the government of Britain, [online], Coservative Party website, available at http://media.conservatives.s3.amazonaws.com/manifesto/cpmanifesto2010_lowres.pdf
Evening Standard, (2010) Tories will raise VAT says Balls, [online], Evening Standard website, available at http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23821469-tories-will-raise-vat-says-balls.do
Lansley, A. (2009), Andre Lansley: Alan Johnson is a roadblock to NHS reform, [online], Conservative Party website, accessed 29/01/2011, available at http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/05/Andrew_Lansley
Libdem website, (2010), Liberal Democrat: policies for students and young people, [online], Liberal Democrat website, available at http://network.libdems.org.uk/manifesto2010/mini/libdem_2010_studen
Monbiot, G. (2011), How the treasury deceived us, [online], George Monbiot website, accessed 29/01/2011, available at http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2011/01/24/how-the-treasury-deceived-us/
Watt, N. (2010), Revealed: Libdems planned before election to abandon tuition fees pledge, [online], Guardian website, available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/12/lib-dems-tuition-fees-clegg