The Miliband speech, broken promises and apologies

Mr Miliband's speech to his party conference appears to have gone down a lot better than I for one think it deserved.

There was a particulaarly interesting review of the speech by Fraser Nelson in the Evening Standard you can read a version on his blog here.

Regarding the specifis of what Miliband atually proposed o do, Nelson asked "Was it plausible? Not at all." But he thought the speech would be effective.

For me the double standards were mind-blowing - having raised the question of David Camero's own income in the speech he denied that he had done so shortly afterwards when refusing to answer the question of whether he is a millionaire himself.

And I kept thinking "Two years ago" when Miliband was asking when we last had a government which fitted his long list of uncomplementary descriptions. every one of the insults he used were at least as applicable in my opinion mostly more so, to the last Labour government of which he was a member.

And I was particularl astonished by the cheek of a member of the last Labour government using the expression "Pledge-Breaking" of anyone else.

Polioticians should try to avoid making promises they can't keep and should always try to keep the promises they do make. That is fundamental to building and retaining trust with the people and no party has done well enough over my political lifetime against this test, though some have done an awful lot better than others.

If at any time before about 2002 you had asked me, or any other Conservative activist, or most Labour activists, which party was the worst effender for making contradictory or impossible promises, we would all have instantly answered that it was the Liberal Democrats. Their activists, particularly in local elections but their MPs and parliamentary candidates were not much better, are notorious for promising one thing in one place and something contradictory in another.

E.g. arguing in Scotland that the jobs for refitting nuclear submarines should go to the Clyde, in Cumbria that those jobs should go to Barrow, in the South West that the jobs should go to Plymouth - and then arguing at Westminster that the nuclear submarines concerned should never be built in the first place.

Of course the Tuition Fees pledge at the 2010 election was the most recent and extreme example.

However, for Ed Miliband, any member of the Labour party, or anyone who has voted Labour since 2005, to criticise the Lib/Dems on tuition fees without apologising for their own record on the same subject is total and complete hypocrisy.

Because since 1997 Labour's record of broken promises has not only been as bad as the Lib/Dems, but even worse.

* Labour has broken exactly the same sort of Tuition fees promise as the Lib/Dems, and not once but twice. In 1997 they promised not to introduce them: in 2001 they promised not to raise them and claimed that they had legislated to prevent such fee rises. Both promises were broken and the claim was untrue.

* Tony Blair also promised that everyone in the country would have access to an NHS dentist within five years, and didn't make any remotely adequate attempt to honour the promise for a lot longer than that.

* Labour promised a referendum on the new EU constitution which eventually became the Lisbon treaty, then used marginal differences between the original constitution and the Lisbon treaty - which everyone else, pro-and anti, said was more than 90% the same - as an excuse to break the promise. The Lib/Dems had also promised a referendum, but abstained.

* Labour promised an "Ethical Foreign policy." One word - Iraq.

I don't pretend that my party is perfect either, though you have to go back about twenty years to find an example as bad as these. All the parties need to remember the simple rule to win back trust: say what you will do, then do what you said. And on the evidence of his conference speech, Miliband doesn't get that point.

Meanwhile, I can't resist posting a link to the Nick Clegg apology - musical version - which you can see here:


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