openDemocracyUK

If the Lib Dems knowingly lied in their manifesto shouldn't their MP's elections be declared void?

It is one thing to change your mind after you have been elected as part of a Coalition agreement process, however objectionable. But it is surely much worse to be planning in advance of a general election to drop a flagship policy aimed at winning votes from a large targeted group after they have supported you.
Stuart Weir
14 November 2010

The importance of election manifestos and pledges is the one constitutional convention that everyone understands.  At election time, the parties set out their policies and plans for government so that voters know what they are voting for.  For a party that seeks to restore trust in politics it is particularly important that they honour this convention.

A few days ago I wrote that the Lib Dems under Nick Clegg had breached this convention, one that is designed to build a bridge between people and politicians. It was possible then to believe that they had been 'blown off course'  by events.  Many Lib Dems will have accepted in good faith the argument that when the Coalition negotiations began their leaders found the economic situation to be worse than expected, were encouraged by the Bank of England to back a policy of cuts to save the economy and felt obliged to concede on student fees.

This was a very significant turn-around, however, for they had gone out of their way to sign "pledges" that they would oppose any such measure.

Now, the Guardian has revealed that a secret policy document, disclosed in a new book by Rob Wilson MP, a former Tory whip, shows the Lib Dems were drawing up plans to abandon their flagship election pledge two months before the general election.

The Guardian states:

A month before Clegg pledged in April to 'scrap the dead weight of debt' [on young people leaving university], a secret team of key Lib Dems made clear that the party would not waste political capital defending its manifesto pledge to abolish university tuition fees within six years.

This revelation, that the Lib Dems courted the large student and university vote before and at the general election, knowing that the pledge would have to be jettisoned as the party sought a foot in government, is likely to fuel even more anger among all those whom they have betrayed.  They have wasted a great deal more than mere party 'political capital'.  They are destroying trust in the one party that was seen to have been relatively clean in British politics after the recent expenses scandal.

In another recent post I attacked the Labour backbenchers who defended Woolas in a clear case of lying. His election was rightly declared void in a careful judicial process reported in OurKingdom by Ryan Gallagher. It is not that he was merely misleading or encouraging scepticism about his Lib Dem opponent. He knowingly published untruths. If we are now led to understand that the Lib Dem manifesto also contained such a known untruth shouldn't all their MPs also have their elections declared void?

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.

Comments

We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData