The Conservative Party Electoral Contract
I was alerted to this document recently. I live in a Labour stronghold, I assume they didn’t bother leafleting here.
This document is what they say they should be judged on by voters if they got elected in 2010. That they didn’t get elected is a moot point, they’re in government. Oddly I cannot find this on the Conservative website and I had to get this from a UKIP blog. But I have seen various version and am sure it’s authentic. So here is my analysis of those promises, both in highlights and with quite long notes.
The right to sack your MP – there is a current bill in the system that will allow constituents to sack their MP if they are convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison for 12 months or less, if 10% of the constituents sign up for this. There is no proposal to have an option of misconduct as was in the contract, so for example fiddling expenses, improper personal behaviour, not doing their job properly, will not be a reason to sack your MP.
Cut the number of MPs by 10% – not quite. Rather than 60 MPs cut, there were 50. 20% of these were in Wales, were the number of seats went from 40 to 30, a loss of 25% of their representation. Coincidentally Wales is not a Tory heartland. There is apparently a proper mathematical formula for working out these changes, though I haven’t had time to check these.
Cut Ministers pay by 5% and freeze it for five years – He did that. As well as increasing their pension contribution. A cabinet minister now only earns £134,565 as well as having a spiffing pension.
Give communities the right to veto excessive council tax – that happened. Though the government decides what’s excessive. Politically this is a double bubble for the Tories. They have slashed central funding to councils, and now will allow the people to hold the councils to account for their need to fund police, fire services and refuse collection.
Make Government transparent – there is, should you wish to look for it, documentation of spending of everything over £25,000. I am not wholly sure that’s helpful, it tends to add to the bureaucracy rather than have decent summaries.
Cut Wasteful government spending – Wasteful is an entirely subjective term, the Tories think it means civil servants, for me it’s quangos, consultants and such. What is black and white is that government spending has increased every year, except 2013, and every year of the Coalition government has had higher government spending than the previous government, 12% higher this year than in 2009, which is a remarkable £80.2bn.
Act now on the national Debt – National Debt has increased year on year. From £0.62 Trillion to £1.26 Trillion now. It has doubled under the Coalition. The increase is coming down, but the debt is still going up.
Reduce Greenhouse Omissions – has happened, slowly. Quarter 2 of 2014 is the lowest point in the coalition’s government, and the trend line over the whole government is decreasing.
Get Britain Working – there were over 500,000 apprenticeships in 2011/12 and 2012/13. Benefits have certainly been cut for people “refusing work”, 1.4m sanctions have been doled out since the system was changed in October 2012 for JSA alone. The number of people on JSA at October 2014 is less than a million, some of these people are sanctioned multiple times. This means they have no money for food. There are council hardship schemes that try to deal with this as well as food banks (save money on central government, spend it on local, blame councils for high council tax), but they’re finite and not mentioned by the DWP at the time of sanction. This can be for months at a time. I have no idea how they live.
Immigration – it’s been well documented that the Coalition have failed by a huge margin in their immigration targets.
Increase NHS spending year on year – yes, they have, though at a lower rate of increase than the previous government. The spending on the NHS has increased every year for a long time, so it’s a bit of a hollow promise, especially as they’ve slowed the reduced the increase. So they’ve done what they wrote, but it’s not really in the spirit of the promise.
…While cutting waste – that’s very hard to gauge. Certainly there have been big cuts in clinical staff, fewer nurses, less wages for nurses, closing A&E and maternity wards. So it depends what you consider waste really.
Support Families – they have introduced a tax break for married people. So if that’s your priority for supporting families, they’ve succeeded.
Raising Standards in schools – it’s an awfully subjective statement. GCSE results have improved year on year for a long time. Does that mean that education has been improving all that time? I think it would be very naive to do believe so. There have been new schools set up under the Free Schools policy. They have diverted state funds to private individual’s pockets. They have been the subject of scandals regarding what is being taught in some of these schools and the “Radicalisation” of students there. As I said, it’s subjective, but I don’t believe for a moment that standards in schools have improved in the last twenty years, never mind four.
Increase the State Pension – they are rolling out a new, and complex state pension from either 2015 or 2016. It is more, mostly, though it is contribution based and there’s a complex method of calculating it. I think most people will be better off, but without more research it’s hard to be sure.
Fight back against crime – the main crux of this was more bobbies on the beat and tougher sentencing and people serving more of their sentences. This is flawed in so many ways. Firstly, crime figures are coming down every year with very few exceptions. The perception of crime does not. Officers on patrol are not effective in catching criminals or stopping crime, that’s been proven. So to pander to the perception of police on the street being effective is a folly. Good evidence processing, efficient procedures and appropriate spending on technology are good ways to catch criminals. People serving more of their sentences is all well and good, but a: prison doesn’t work, b: prisons are overcrowded and c: prisons are now being run by private firms who have a vested interest in having prisoners, moving towards the USA model. In whose interest is having people in prison for longer? I couldn’t find any figures (in some casual research) numbers of police on patrol, nor could I find reference to changing sentencing.
National Citizen Service – it does seem to exist, though at the time of writing the website is down. It looks like the Prince’s Trust Volunteers. I don’t think it does anything new or innovative. They have a facebook page, it’s trying so hard to be cool and doing nothing about information.
Everybody who knows me is aware that I am not a fan of the Tories, but I have tried to be as impartial as possible.