With less than eight weeks to go to the UK General Election, Ed Miliband yesterday unveiled Labour’s “five pledges” to the British electorate. These are not the first statements to be made by the leader of a political party during the current campaign. And they won’t be the last. As usual, politicians of all parties are falling over themselves to out-promise each other, as they go in search of media headlines, people’s votes, and what they see as the ultimate goal of political power.
The five ‘straplines’ on Labour’s pledge card are so vague and anodyne that the words would not look out of place if they had been issued by the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats. But, as Election Day gets closer and manifestos are launched, Party Leaders and other senior politicians will not be backwards at coming forwards with ever more specific “We will…” commitments.
So what does this implied belief in their own ability to deliver on detailed promises – come what may - say about their grasp of the complex and uncertain dynamics of everyday life? Or of how the world works in practice? Not a lot, it seems to me. Either that or it’s all bluff and bluster, designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of so-called “public opinion”, and to satisfy the constant demand from TV interviewers and media commentators for “straight answers”.