Political Promise

Tory Manifesto Farse

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2010 at 7:04 am

I am not the sort of geek who actually reads the Party manifestos, so I’m not going to comment in detail on the texts. However, a few hours into the media coverage of the conservative launch I am already laughing.

Firstly; the cover. “An invitation to join the government” seems to be hinting at more control for people over their local services; hooray! And yes, we have several poached Lib Dem policies in there; allowing voters to sack their MPs, cutting stamp duty for first time buyers, directly elected police chiefs.

However, as with all unthinking libertarianism, we also have a few crazy concessions to mob rule. Apparently parents will be able to take over or start their own school. Is David Cameron really convinced that busy parents, real people, have the time or the inclination to literally start their own school? This is a policy for the busybodies who want to run the world themselves, but not for normal people who have lives.

Additionally, they claim that they are going to allow citizens to vote in referendums to “veto large council tax rises.” Allowing people to vote just on tax? I can tell you what will happen now – they will always say no. We saw this in Manchester with the congestion charge tax, and we will see it again and again if you let people consider tax increases without also considering which local service they are starving of money.

As a Lib Dem I am all in favour of local government, however where you confer power you must also confer responsibility. A hypothetical single person in Manchester voting against the congestion charge doesn’t feel responsible for the lack of investment in public transport for the city (in particular the fact that the metro will no longer be extended into many more areas of the city’s outskirts as a direct result of the vote.) Similarly, the parents who want to start their own school had better be prepared for the workload.

The losers in this DIY society would be the real people out there in the economy. People on low incomes in the UK are not likely to be school Governors, and their children, even if they are above average, will have fallen behind well off but average children by the age of eight. The problem with equality of opportunity is that enough people don’t chase the opportunity; that is why as Social Liberals we prefer equality of real freedoms.

Tomorrow our manifesto will show a commitment to an extra £4 Billion of extra funding for primary schools; real help in the form of one to one tuition and Saturday catch up sessions for children who fall behind. We have also long been in favour of scrapping council tax altogether, and replacing it with a fair, local income tax will also be part of tomorrow’s real alternative.

Joe Jordan

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  1. Interesting, long comment – but seems you have missed a chunk of the proposed education policy – or deliberately gloss over it since you are a Lib Dem.
    Setting up a school can be highly complex and running it requires excellent leadership, teachers, etc, etc. The Conservatives propose increased parental power to get a school provided in their area, but the means to do this will be via several options – experienced education providers, groups who already do it, brilliant organisations from the education sector, will be involved, and the fortunate local families will be able to get as involved as they have time for.

    Have another read! The Lib Dems proposals are tiny, are already offered within Labour’s failed education approach, and not freeing up the brilliant leaders and teachers within schools who desperately want to retrieve the excitement of learning that is possible within a good school.

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