Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Politics of Tory Pledge-Breaking

Political gravity is starting to assert itself on the Tories' ridiculous manifesto. You will recall that this gang of scaremongerers, who spent the entire election trading on economic competence, getting the deficit and public sector debt down, and "strong leadership" promised £28bn in unfunded spending commitments - presumably with the view that they'd never get chance to implement them because coalition negotiations, etc. There's a lesson there: one should avoid tempting fate. You may also recall the fright UKIP gave the Tories all throughout the last Parliament, the one that gave CCHQ willies enough to make a rash in/out referendum pledge on European Union membership. It's been fewer than 50 days since the general election, so let's take a look at how our overlords are doing.

Ooops number one. Page 14 of the Tory manifesto: "We will invest £38 billion in our railway network in the five years to 2019." No you won't. Patrick McLaughlin, the man at the ministry designated to carry the can has passed the blame onto Network Rail, saying the plan is no longer viable because of delays and so on. Nothing to do with trimming spending here to make up for pledges there, you understand. The upgrades to the Midland main line and the route between Manchester and Leeds are only being delayed. The advantage is funds can be diverted elsewhere in the short-term, though in the long-term it will end up costing more. Sacrificing tomorrow for the needs of the day, what says Toryism more than that?

Ooops number two. Page 72 of the Tory manifesto: "It will be a fundamental principle of a future Conservative Government that membership of the European depends on the consent of the British people - and in recent years that consent has worn thin. That's why, after the election, we will negotiate a new settlement for Britain in Europe, and then ask the British people whether they want to stay in the EU on this reformed basis or leave." Oh dear. This was always Dave's biggest gamble. Trying to get treaty change through with the consent of the EU's entire membership was always going to be a tricky business. Unsurprisingly, with the EU and the Euro facing its gravest challenge, other leaders aren't particularly interested in the immediate interests of Britain's Conservative Party to deliver a renegotiation according to an arbitrary timetable. And so another manifesto pledge is set to fall - the referendum can take place before Dave goes with his begging bowl to Chancellor Merkel, and looks like it will too. He's going to have a tough time extricating himself from this sorry and unnecessary mess.

In truth, both of these should be seen as kite-flying exercises. Dave and Osborne know there's a huge gap in their finances. They know money has to be found from somewhere. So why not start fudging on two pledges - one relatively minor, one quite major that can, at a push, be blamed on the vicissitudes of Network Rail and the EU, and seeing what happens. If nothing much does, and I don't think it will, the Tories can start fudging other bits of their manifesto. Can the education budget look forward to a cut? Are we going to see the bedroom tax extended to a small number of pensioners in overly large council houses? Are they going to row back on the free childcare commitment? Or, the biggie, will VAT go up - albeit at a rate less than inflation? The clock's ticking down to the summer statement. The government can't hide its cards forever.


kailyard rules said...

The Unionist government and Unionist media are ,quite simply, liars.

jim mclean said...

The Unionist government and Unionist media are ,quite simply, liars.

Seen the real oil figures Kailyard.
Love the way Eck, when caught out lying over EU legal advice, hired his own Judge to find him not guilty.