Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Moral Austerity: Steep Government Cuts to Promise Keeping

I'm starting to lose count of the number of promises the Conservatives made before the election that they have ripped up in the last 5 months. Forget the budget deficit, there is a widening trust deficit:

“I can assure you that we have no current plans to relax the Sunday trading laws. We believe that the current system provides a reasonable balance between those who wish to see more opportunity to shop in large stores on a Sunday, and those who would like to see further restrictions.”  Instead the government launched a hideously skewed 'consultation' on changes to the law, and plans to introduce back-door reforms have been headed off this week by rebel MPs

We will invest a record £13 billion in transport for the North....on top of our £50 billion commitment to build High Speed 2 – the new North-South railway linking up London with the West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester – and develop High Speed 3 to join up the North. (Manifesto p12)...electrifying the Midland Main Line from St Pancras to Sheffield.....electrification of the Great Western Main Line –bringing new fast trains on the route. (p12) 'frozen' in June 2015, with plenty of evidence that the Conservatives knew this wasn't a promise they would keep.

We will increase NHS spending every year. (Conservative Manifesto p9). All depends how you measure it. Rising in cash terms, but falling as a % of GDP.

we will back British businesses (p18)  (unless they make solar panels, steel....)

we will freeze working age benefits for 2 years from April 2016 (p29). I.e. they won't fall. A pledge Cameron repeated in the election campaign on a specific question about tax credits. 

Both promises broken.

I'm posting this not because I'm a standard lefty Anglican, but because I think trust is vital, and people who break trust, especially those who have specifically asked for it, need to be called out. If we get to a stage where words mean nothing, where they are said for effect (to get votes) rather than for meaning or truth content (i.e. you actually mean them) then we're stuffed. We can't afford to get used to a situation where we are routinely misled, and accept it as a fact of life, whether it's politicians, phone salesmen or advertisers.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Cameron is a serial promise breaker. This is not one or two incidents, where there's an understandable train of events that has derailed best intentions. Its systematic, habitual, deliberate, and seemingly done without shame or apology. If he suggests to Samantha that they renew their wedding vows, she should be seriously worried.

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