Wednesday, 5 May 2010

There's a difference between policy and practice....

According to the canvassers, the proportion of "undecideds" is higher then ever before. And there's one day left before the General Election, and we make our decisions and cast our votes. So what do we choose? I've been waiting in vain to find out what each of the parties will actually do if they were elected, as they all have an agreement not to worry the electorate about such trifles.

We are supposed to cast our votes based on their policies, and then we only find out at the first and subsequent budgets, how they would actually implement their policies - which ones they will pursue, which will be kept on the back burner, and which can quietly be dropped. Now I have many years experience working in the field of policy for transportation and the environment, and was well aware of the difference between policy and practice by the time I left the job in 2005. Are we supposed to believe the political parties don't know how they would implement their policies, or is it that the parties have decided that the electorate must be infantilised, as they can't be trusted to make a judgement with the full information? (Rhetorical question.)

Fortunately my vexation is lightened by the election material of the minor parties. We have the single issue parties like the English Democrats. I'm not clear on how closely linked the ED party is with the Campaign for an English Parliament, a campaign that I support. But they can't be a one trick pony party, they have to offer a package of policies. And I read a bunch of motherhood and apple pie aspirations that most of us would be happy with, sprinkled with some Daily Mail fear and loathing.

Then there's the Peoples Party Essex, where the people somehow have "direct voting" to introduce public opinion into the House of Commons. Some interesting concepts on page one, then we turn over to the flipside and we have their mini manifesto. As always, I home in on transport policy, and see that the PPe are running with the hare and the hounds, removing 60% of speed cameras (why 60%?) and introducing a voluntary 10mph in housing estates. Well that should appease the speeding motorists, and the people who don't like speeding motorists outside their homes.

Talking of the hare and the hound, I'm surprised that the Conservatives want to repeal the law on Fox Hunting. I think this would be a deal breaker for some potential Conservative voters, but I'm sure the Tories know better than I do, who are really their people .

And finally, I heard a heartbreaking story on BBC Radio 4 from a woman from east London, where she felt abandoned by the three main parties. There is organised Staffies dog-fighting on the street outside her house, and gangs of hoodies getting on buses and beating the passengers, and the police not turning up when called. In the "nicer" parts of the UK, we can overlook how grim it is living in some areas. Needless to say, the BNP had some attractions to this person, as possibly the only party that might be able to help her, but she didn't hold out much hope even with them in charge.

Whoever gets in, there will be difficult times ahead. I don't go with the "broken Britain" concept, but I feel society needs to radically change. Whether any of the current prospective leaders are up to the job remains to be seen.......

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