Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hanging With The Girls Of Gamma Phi Beta

To an American observer, it might appear that Wales’ politicians are trying to join the fraternity in this election campaign. The voters have been bombarded by pledges on all sides, in most cases rather more literally than normal.

It all starts with Plaid Cymru and their “7 for ‘07” (clever, huh!) list that adorns all their literature (well, almost all; their first leaflet in Cardiff West did go with, “we have seven pledges for 2007, here are two of them...”) It’s certainly a headline-grabbing list;

  1. Universal Affordable Childcare
  2. First Home Grant
  3. One Laptop Per Child
  4. Stamp Out Student Debt
  5. Saving Wales – The Energy Plan
  6. New Community NHS
  7. Business Tax Cuts

Unfortunately, the headlines are all expensive and unworkable, with a hint of discrimination (the First Home Grants are for Welsh people staying in their hometown) and a tad of vacuousness (there’s no detail as to what the energy plan is, just a suggestion that it might be an idea to have one)

Nevertheless, the Tories liked the idea of seven pledges so much they decided to have some of their own, and they even called them key pledges, so they must be important?

  1. £100pa Council Tax Rebate for Pensioners
  2. Nurse-led NHS walk-in centres
  3. More police
  4. Business rate relief for flexitime and childcare providing employers
  5. Business rate relief for post offices
  6. £20 of energy-saving light bulbs for every household
  7. £48 million more for Welsh schools

Far from important, they are in order unimaginative, unoriginal, unsurprising, piddling, inappropriate, inefficient and insufficient. Still, it’s nice to see that in the first major election campaign of the Cameron era the Tories have reverted to the unintelligent managerialism that is their trademark.

But then, just when you think things can’t get any worse, the red flag hoves into view. If there’s one thing New Labour knows how to do, it’s flogging a dead horse (I see your Mandelson and raise you Blunkett, for example) and in pledge terms they’ve stuck to what they know;

  1. Quality education for quality jobs
  2. Better health for all
  3. Strong and safe communities
  4. A fairer Wales
  5. A greener Wales

In other news, Rhodri Morgan has announced that he hopes to encourage bears to make more use of the woods for their defecatory needs, and that he will be bringing forth measures designed to increase the Pope’s Catholicism…

As for the Liberal Democrats, we don’t have any pledges; instead, we have this strange thing called a manifesto, in which we have mystical beasts called policies. I’d invite the other parties to have a look at them, but I doubt they’d understand what they were…

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