The pledge card was invented by Tony Blair’s wonderful shiny New Labour in 1997. The idea was to name five major policy issues which were, in 21st parlance, to be ‘red lined’. As a marketing exercise it proved to be effective but just like the party manifestos of all sides it turned out to be not worth the paper – or in this case plastic – it was printed on. I’ve reproduced it above.
Class sizes are still over 30, sentencing times are just as long, the NHS red tape has continued to grow, youth unemployment is still a problem and, as we all know, Gordon Brown as Chancellor was an expert at raising taxes without being seen to raise taxes.
But to be fair, subsequent administrations really have done no better. And the pledge card has gone from worse to worse. Here’s one from the Lib Dems :
Couldn’t get much more negative could it? Or could it? Here’s an example of a Labour pledge card that pledges nothing at all :
So maybe it’s time we killed these silly things off once and for all, because here’s Ed Miliband’s latest effort :
Let’s look at those pledges realistically, shall we? On the first pledge, let’s remember that the man who will be responsible for the economy will be Ed Balls. On the Andrew Marr Show in January last year, Balls was asked “Do you think spending under Labour was too high?” Balls replied “No, I don’t. Nor our deficit. Nor our national debt.” I think that kills the first pledge.
On pledge 2, all that will happen is that the energy companies will put their prices up before Labour can pass the law to freeze them, then they will cut investment and the lights will start going out. Raising the minimum wage will force small companies out of business and Labour will borrow more money and raise taxes to pay for the free childcare
20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and guaranteed appointments within 48 hours? Where exactly will they come from these extra medical staff? How will we train and pay them?
Pledge 4 of no benefit claims for 2 years for immigrants? Might work but are we really going to legislate on what companies are allowed to pay their staff? How exactly will that one work, Ed?
Tuition fees cut? Well, the Lib Dems pledged not to increase them and now oppose reducing them down to £6,000 and they’re free in Scotland so which coalition partner are you going to get to support that? Guaranteed apprenticeships? Where are the companies that will offer them, especially if you up the minimum wage?
But the classic pledge is at the bottom of the card – smaller class sizes for 5,6,and 7 year olds. Sound familiar? Well, they said the same thing on the 1997 pledge card (see top picture) and it ain’t happened in 13 years of Blair and Brown and it sure as hell ain’t going to happen under Miliband either. In fact, if you compare the two pledge cards, there are some worrying similarities, aren’t there?
So as far as I can see, you can make as many pledges as you like, but you still can’t polish a turd – whatever party it belongs to…