Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Labour Pledges and Accusations

The Independent is saying that Labour will be reintroducing the Pledge card, that was the centerpiece of Blair’s 1997 triumph. The pledge card will summarise all of Labour’s policies into five pithy pledges

The exact five pledges haven’t been agreed but MP’s have been told to focus on the following five areas / pledges for now

  1. Training or further education will be provided for all school-leavers and a job or training for jobless young adults.
  2. Suspected cancer patients will receive their diagnosis within one week.
  3. The elderly and most vulnerable will receive free personal care.
  4. Families responsible for antisocial behaviour will face tough action.
  5. The national deficit will be halved in four years through tax rises, spending cuts and growth.

They’ll also be targeting conservatives with five primary accusations at the Conservatives

  1. Tories would cut education funding
  2. Tories will scrap the cancer promise
  3. Tories will preside over a social care “lottery”
  4. Tories will reduce police numbers
  5. Tories will axe Sure Start

Will any of this work. Personally I don’t think so, we’re now in a very different world to 1997, people know that the issues we face are complicated and the solutions for them can’t be captured in five sentences. There’s also some true pandering to certain groups within the pledges, particularly to the middle class, i.e. antisocial behaviour and free personal care, but then the idea of tax rises (surely not a winner on the doorstep), which sort of destroys that.

At the end of the day there’s nothing radical or spectacular in what they’re offering and I personally think they’re too simple for the modern world.

On the accusations leveled at the Conservatives, we’re back, as I blogged earlier, to the politics of fear. Labour are willing to give just as much airtime (5 points) to what their opposition will allegedly do as to what they will do (5 points also).

Education feature prominently but claims that Tories will cut education (specifically school funding) seem a bit rich when the higher education budget has just been massacred by Mandelson. Also I’m not entirely certain about the fixation on Sure Start, maybe it’s because I’m not a parent but I’ve researched what it is and can’t for the life of me see why it’s so great or why voters should care more about Sure Start itself than the constituent elements of it (free early education for 3-4 year olds, more childcare places etc.) The Sure Start brand itself explains nothing and has no meaning.

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  1. Leaving aside Sure Start's crap brand value, I would be interested to know if the Conservatives are prepared to state categorically that the 5 'accusations' are untrue?
    Never underestimate how little the public want to think about the issues, they will certainly bitch & moan about them, but they wont think too deeply on the issue or god-forbid actually research it!
    Simple policy summary WILL work, it has a proven track record. It is the one thing Labour has been unable to do recently, their policy on most things has become convoluted and highly changeable.
    The real question is does the electorate trust them to keep their promises.

  2. All true, well sure start won;t be scrapped DC said this the other day

    The cancer promise is a bit of a joke. one week from when? So if I go in with some form of symptoms that turn out to be cancer a months worth of tests down the line have they failed?

    Social care lottery is also a difficult thing to define, also more devolution to the local level will result in different treatment in different areas based on the need of that local area.

    On Police numbers and education funding who knows where the cuts will come. Have the government said they won't cut funding to those two areas?

    Sure Start is a good example of a complicated policy initiative that has been wrapped up in branding to make it easier to understand but just diffuses it instead so no one knows what it is.

    Would be interesting to see how many of the pledge's from 1997 have been kept 13 years on.