Tuesday, May 05, 2015

British politics jumps the shark

Serious UK political stories are now indistinguishable from The Onion:

Ed Miliband has unveiled a giant stone slab inscribed with Labour’s six election pledges – and vowed to have it installed at Downing Street if his party wins the general election.

Speaking in front of the 8ft 6ins-high piece of limestone, the Labour leader said he would keep the stone “in a place where we can see it every day as a reminder of our duty to keep Labour’s promises”.

Labour said the stone came as part of an effort to rebuild the public’s trust in politics, after the issue was highlighted by a series of pointed questions from the audience during last week’s final TV debate on BBC Question Time.

Like a pledge card, except it gets to be a public eyesore rather than discarded in the trash. But exactly how writing their promises on a more durable medium will make them keep them is left unexplained. Kindof like exactly what "an NHS with the time to care" actually means. Because at its heart, this is just more of the same - promises so vague that they are empty. Its not a covenant with the electorate, but a PR exercise covering a licence for politicians to do whatever they want.

If Miliband really wanted to rebuild trust in politics, he'd avoid such PR games, and instead simply do what he says he will, and explain to the public if circumstances mean that he can't or if he changes his mind. But there's no headlines in that, and it takes actual ongoing behavioural change, rather than a photo opportunity to "draw a line under the issue".