What colour will the manifesto be?

untitled (58)It is clear that having fired the starting gun on the faux election campaign back in the Autumn, that the Political Parties are now focusing on manifestos so we can make our decisions in plenty of time to tell the canvassers who we will vote for. In an ideal world for them we will decide to vote for the same party in the EU elections this year, the General Election in 2015 and the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in 2016. At some point in that three year spread, most of us will also elect local Councillors. Many of us might prefer to get the whole thing over with in a few minutes today, by email, but the good old fashioned ballot paper process will have to do, and like it or not we have three years of this campaign. The Labour party are trying hard today to wrest from the Tories the accolade for who can cut quickest and hardest when it comes to the Autumn statement 2015. The challenge for them is to be heard over the sound of the laughter as Nigel Farage attempts to explain away the policy for painting all of our trains (at a time when finances were known to be a problem) and persuade every taxi driver in the land to pay for and wear a uniform chosen by the UKIP tailor (presumably there would be some yellow and purple in the colour scheme).

As a salesman in the 1990’s I recall sitting in a meeting where the latest product was being launched by the company in a fanfare and extensive discussions about how it would work, its benefits and features. One of our colleagues was a very successful salesman, but at times very uncertain regarding the technical elements of the products concerned. His question as we discussed this product was what colour would the application form be? It seemed to sum up his approach to selling. In the context of the election campaign that we are currently being presented with, it seems clear that Nigel Farage takes the same approach as my ex-colleague. He will ask the people who write the UKIP manifesto to tell him what colour the manifesto is and he will get out and sell it, and like my colleague he will find many people willing to cast their vote in his direction. It will only be later that he and they will discover he has persuaded people to have the trains painted in the interests of national pride. Meanwhile the other parties are working hard to persuade us that their manifestos are distinctly different and we can trust them to be harder or stronger than the others. In practice the choice may still come down to the colour of the document, or at least the colour of the rosette which will determine who votes for what.

Its not too late, for a party to stand up and tell us that they are keen to hear from us, that they recognise that it is their job to represent us in their Governance proposals, rather than giving us a list of their own proposals to endorse. Of course there may be something of a credibility gap, we’ve taken part in listening events and the Big Conversation before and yet our views did not appear to make it into the manifesto after all. Perhaps an alternative might be someone standing in 650 constituencies who is willing to listen to local people and on the basis of this, to make decisions when it comes to votes in the House of Commons. Someone like Sarah Wollaston who has taken the time to listen to her constituents over key pieces of legislation, and then voted for the right outcome, even when that meant she was voting against her party.

I realise that my wishes are no more relevant than people who want to support a Blue, Red or Yellow (or even Purple) colour manifesto because that will make them feel secure. However I hope that we see a few candidates elected who do upset the cosy arrangements that even Nigel Farage claims to be opposed to.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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