Manifesto Promises

Suggested clause (drafted by Andrew Bulovsky)

'The manifestos that parties make in the run-up to a General Election must be considered a commitment to the public as the actual goals and priorities of a Government. As such, manifestos shall be binding upon a Government.  Should a Government be formed by two or more parties, it is expected that they shall reconcile differences through negotiations, and are still responsible to the public for finding a common ground on policies that are as close to their manifestos as is reasonably possible.

'A Parliamentary Select Committee on Manifestos shall be created and is charged with ensuring that Government's do not deviate from their proposed ideas nor propose policies that were not originally addressed. This committee is responsible for hearing justifications from the Government for actions not in line with the manifesto. Should the committee feel that a campaign proposal has been violated without sufficient explanation, they shall release their findings to the public in a timely fashion.'

Idea behind the draft clause:

As a general rule governments should be required to implement promises they make in pre-election manifestos.  This would not only ensure that we get what we vote for but that parties concentrate on realistic pre-election promises. 

Mechanisms should be put in place for parliamentary scrutiny of such a principle by a parliamentary select committee.

As a corollary, there should perhaps also be proper scrutiny of policies which are not declared prior to an election but which emerge later to ensure that major policies are not deliberately concealed from the electorate. 

In either case, there could also be certain parliamentary time consequences both in favour of manifesto policies and against concealed policies. 

edited on Apr 13, 2015 by Ian Smith

Ian Smith Apr 5, 2015

Dear All,

I am posting a quick comment here and in my other ideas.

Firstly, I want to say how much I have enjoyed seeing all of your contributions on this and other ideas and how impressed I am with the range of expertise and erudition which has filled these debates.

Secondly, I wish to put forward a couple of suggestions as to a way forward at this stage.  They are:

A.   I suggest that we all refrain from further voting until the ideas have been refined and represented and have then been debated for a while.  My thinking here is that we will want to see the reshaped ideas and see the comments on those refined ideas before we decide whether they are to be voted up or down,  I do not think that we should refrain from voting on comments but perhaps try not to vote too hastily on them.

B.  Now that the hurly burly of the "Hacking" phase (some of it quite savage) has passed, I hope and wish that we will adopt a more collaborative and less combative approach in our commentary, so that commentary is given a chance to be constructive and really do the job of refining the ideas in question.

C.  I would hope that we can refrain from attacking the very existence of the idea under discussion in this phase or the fact that it has successfully gone through to this phase against the wishes of those who voted it down.  I sincerely hope that the previous critics of an idea, will still respect that it found favour with the crowd and now help to refine the idea in this phase.

Thirdly, I will try my best not to introduce any more typos and mangled phrases! 

Best wishes for the holiday weekend!

Ian 

Christine Farquharson Apr 7, 2015

As an aid to the refining phase, here's a summary of some of what was discussed in phase 1:

- clairefinn54: What happens in a coalition? (1 up)

- Andrew Bulovsky: What should the consequences be? Who investigates?

- Malcolm Ramsay: We elect parliamentarians to govern, which sometimes means they have to adapt to changing circumstances. Accountability would be better served by separating the legislative from the executive branches and making it clear that there is one individual who can be held to account. Still, voting contrary to an explicit pledge should be grounds for a by-election. (1 up)

- IanSmith1: Because this proposal is for committee review rather than automatic dismissal, parliamentarians will still have the flexibility they need to adapt to new circumstances (including having to govern in a coalition). If the change is justifiable they should have nothing to worry about.

- Alastair Bruton: The constitution is probably the wrong mechanism to discuss/censure broken manifesto promises. Instead, we should focus on ensuring the institutions for a strong and accountable democracy are in place. (1 up)

Andrew Bulovsky Apr 13, 2015

With only one week remaining in the refining stage, the facilitators will draft some language for this idea. We'll do everything we can to redraft the original submission in line with your comments and suggestions. If the original poster would like to take over the idea they are more than welcome to at any point. Please do comment to offer suggestions on specific wording and to guide us on which suggestions should take priority (by voting them up/down).

"The manifestos that parties make in the run-up to a General Election must be considered a commitment to the public as the actual goals and priorities of a Government. As such, manifestos shall be binding upon a Government.  Should a Government be formed by two or more parties, it is expected that they shall reconcile differences through negotiations, and are still responsible to the public for finding a common ground on policies that are as close to their manifestos as is reasonably possible.

"A Parliamentary Select Committee on Manifestos shall be created and is charged with ensuring that Government's do not deviate from their proposed ideas nor propose policies that were not originally addressed. This committee is responsible for hearing justifications from the Government for actions not in line with the manifesto. Should the committee feel that a campaign proposal has been violated without sufficient explanation, they shall release their findings to the public in a timely fashion."

Malcolm Ramsay Apr 13, 2015

That looks fine to me.

Ian Smith Apr 13, 2015

Looks good, many thanks Andrew.

Kind regards,

Ian

Alastair Bruton Apr 14, 2015

I opposed this idea in the first round so it's hard to comment positively now. Having a Select Committee declare that manifesto promises have been broken seems redundant. It doesn't stop politicians from breaking their promises, nor does it add much to what's already pretty obvious to voters. Would it have made any difference if a Select Committee had announced that Nick Clegg had broken his tuition fees promise? I don't think so.

To give these clauses teeth, perhaps we might consider having an such an announcement automatically trigger the recall and by-election of all Cabinet members... But would a committee composed of MPs be willing to give a ruling that might result in a change of government?

View all replies (3)

Andrew Cullyer Apr 14, 2015

I also voted against this and remain opposed.

However I shall try and offer some constructive advice the select committee should have the power to impose electoral fines on the party(ies) in government for broken promises and these should be deducted from their allowed expenses at the next general election therefore impacting directly their ability to be re-elected.   

Titus Alexander Apr 17, 2015

To say manifesto promises must be binding implies that governments can be sued if they don't carry them out. It also means that if parties stick small unpopular measures in their manifestos there is no point in people campaigning against them.

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