Friday, May 01, 2015


Writing in the Law section of the Times (30 April) Gary Slapper reminds us:

"After an election when all is said and done, it is usually clear that much more has been said than will be done. But there is no legal remedy against politicians who fail to keep their promises. In a House of Lords decision in 1983, Lord Diplock declared that elected representatives should not 'treat themselves as irrevocably bound to carry out pre-announced policies contained in election manifestos'. So someone selling a used car is under tighter control than someone selling the future".

The obvious example of getting away with not honouring a promise is the LibDems "pledge" to abolish tuition fees. But there are many, many others. Here's a Labour one from 1994:

"Labour to end begging”
Begging will be consigned to the history books under the next Labour government, Labour's spokesman, Nick Raynsford, told a meeting of the Hampstead and Highgate Labour Party in Swiss Cottage. Mr Raynsford, MP for Greenwich, said that begging was the most disgraceful indictment of the present government's policies. 'Our task has got to be to elininate begging in London and create a memory of how bad life was in the late 80s and early 90s'." (Camden New Journal, 7 July 1994).

In the event it was Nick Raynsford who was consigned to history. Meanwhile, despite a period of 13 years of Labour government, begging has grown, reminding us how bad life still is, twenty years later, in the mid 2010s, whether under a Tory, a Labour or a Coalition government.

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