12 Jan 2011

Pre-election promises: to keep or not to keep

Once more the PP Government is being taken to task over ‘failure’ to keep pre-election promises.

One reader commented as follows:

It is amazing how the seat of temporary political power can change one's perspectives,into alienating previously held principles,that supported efforts which enabled the recognition of personal growth,beyond the imagination of the individual in question.

This is going to be an unpopular post, and I fully expect a lot of negative feedback. But that is expected because many Trinis aren't rational thinkers but emotive reactionaries.

The fact is, no political party is bound by any campaign promise or manifesto. That was determined by the case Bromley London Borough Council v Greater London Council (1983) 1 AC 768.

The House of Lords held that a manifesto issued by a political party - in order to get votes - is not to be taken as gospel. It is not to be regarded as a bond, signed, sealed and delivered. It may contain - and it often does contain - promises and proposals that are quite unworkable or impossible of attainment. Very few of the electorate read the manifesto in full. A goodly number only know of it from what they read in the newspapers or hear on television. Many know nothing whatever of what it contains. When they come to the polling booth, none of them vote for the manifesto... they vote for a party and not for a manifesto. Elected representatives must not treat themselves as irrevocably bound to carry out pre-announced policies.

In a further case R v Secretary of State for Education and Employment ex parte Begbie Court of Appeal [2000] ELR 445, the Court of Appeal held that to hold that pre-election promises bound a newly elected Government could well be inimical to to good government.

The Court further emphasised that when a party fails to keep its election promises the consequences should be political and NOT legal.

Regardless of what the PP promised, they have 5 years to woo and win the electorate. Should they fail, no doubt the electorate ought to and possibly will, show that at the next election.