Gene Kerrigan: Lies, damned lies and party manifestos
General Election pledges are not worth the paper they are printed on, writes Gene Kerrigan
Published 13/02/2011 | 05:00
THE clue is in the name. Election Manifesto. There was a time when I sought out such documents. Bent over my desk, chain-smoking, I zealously read every page, making notes in the margins. And yes, you're right, it was a sad life. Sometimes I'd even draw up charts, comparing the stance of each party on the major issues of the day.
Ah, the follies of the young! Along with cigarettes, poker dice and high-heeled boots, taking politicians at their word is one of the embarrassing memories of a youth misspent. After each election I'd check the manifestos against the implementation of government policies. Then, with time and experience, the truth dawned. And I don't do any of that anymore. Last week, various manifestos and policies were "launched". That low moaning sound you heard in the distance was me, yawning.
The name tells us, clearly and unambiguously, the function of an Election Manifesto. It is to get the politicians elected. Full stop. To that end, they will put into the Manifesto a lot of stuff they believe and care about. And more stuff about which they don't give a damn -- but which they know is important to various segments of the electorate. The purpose of this is to be able to say, whenever a voter asks awkward questions: "Oh, yes, that's in our manifesto."