13 May 2015

The British Prime Minister has pledged to restore trust and faith in politics.

When the new Cabinet met yesterday for the first time, David Cameron used the presence of the media to confirm assurances given during the election campaign.  He was emphatic that the Government had a mandate to deliver on the Conservative manifesto – “all of it”.   Having surprised all the pundits – and exceeded his own expectations – the election of a House of Commons with a Conservative party majority should enable the Government to operate without the compromises of a coalition.

The Prime Minister said  “..This will be a different government. It is not a coalition government, so we have proper accountability. There’s no trading away of things that are in here. The ability to deliver this, that is one of the most important things we can do to restore trust and faith in politics, when you vote for something you get it and that is what we are going to do.”

“Before we start I want everyone around this table to be absolutely clear what we are here to do and who we are here to do it for. I think it is absolutely vital that in every decision that we take, in every policy we pursue, every programme we start, it is about giving everyone in our country the best chance of living a fulfilling and good life and making the most of their talents. That is what this government is going to be about”

What the Prime Minister believes to be necessary may not match the expectations of the public.  One of the last pieces of legislation to come into force before the election created the Register of Consultant Lobbyists, the need for which became clear in the lobbying taking place during the election campaign – and earlier in the year with the latest media exposure of senior politicians seeking to sell their influence– this time involving  Rifkind and Straw – both Right Honourable Members.

Before the previous election David Cameron’s promise had been to remedy the “…far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money…”. Few consider that his solution – the Transparency of Lobbying, Non Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act – will ensure trustworthiness in politics. During its parliamentary passage,  the Bill gave rise to extensive lobbying to protect interests!  The resulting register does not impose effective controls on the activities of lobbyists and may give rise to a false sense of transparency. The public will be no wiser about who is lobbying who, what the lobbying is about or how much is being spent to engage political support.

Perhaps the inadequacies in the legislation reflected the need to maintain a coalition.

The Prime Minister seems confident that he will be able to deliver on promises this time around.  This includes extending the right to buy Housing Trust properties – despite them not being government owned, cutting inheritance tax, raising the personal income threshold so no-one on the minimum wage pays tax, increasing the higher tax  threshold, doubling  free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, increasing health spending by £8 billion a year, giving civil servants and local government officers 3 days paid leave each year for volunteering and so on.