So we have a month to the General Election. I think you can surmise, from previous entries, which way I'm likely to vote, but I still have my doubts. The problem is the manifestos published by each party - they're not all that inspiring. The BBC's web coverage already looks set to be excellent, and well worth checking out. Looking at the key priorities, Labour seem to be edging it in terms of stats to back up their targets. Both the Tories and the Lib Dems offer the scrapping of the ID card scheme, which is commendable, but hardly a key priority right now.
The trouble with the Tory manifesto is that it looks like it was scraped out of a Daily Mail editorial. It reads more like a wishlist than a set of concrete proposals. The most absurd, coming from my own career background, is the idea of Academy schools run by local communities and independent of local authority control. At first glance, it looks quite appealing - after all, it's the notion of communities helping themselves. Unfortunately, whoever dreamt this one up omitted to ask a very simple question: Why aren't local communities already investing themselves in the schools that already exist? Why not invest in them? In fact, I suspect the proposal is probably thoroughly unworkable. For starters, it would involve the diversion of budgets to establish the schools, whatever the Tories may say about private funding; Second, the chances of these academies ending up being run by private businesses or rich institutions with their own agendas is incredibly high. Public accountability would be limited (an opt-out school would not be subject to OFSTED inspections)- and don't we all want to know what happens to our children at school? Finally, I suspect that the whole scheme would eventually crumble - that, or we go back to a model of education that was discredited a long time ago.
Labour's Cancer notification plan is just an attention-grabber, and I suspect impossible to deliver within the time-frame of the next parliament. The same, probably, goes for the adoption of the Alternative voting system - any governement wishing to put through such a change to electoral procedure would need a solid majority.
The Lib Dems 'Identify £15bn of lower-priority spending and cut' is highly suspicious - define 'lower-priority spending'.
And this election is set to be the most personality-driven ever. So, based on what the potential PMs look and sound like, I'd say:
David Cameron: Posho Fake. Tony Blair Lite. Just does that sincere semi-frown thing like he's about to fart out a mini-turd of a policy
Nick Clegg: A man in search of someone who's got a mate who bought a dog off a bloke down the pub who knows where he can lay his hands on a nice bit of gravitas.
Gordon Brown: He's the bear, these are his woods, and damn if he isn't going to crap just where he likes.
And of course, all these politicos have to convince the electorate that they aren't bent, not like those expenses-fiddling lot last ti....oh, sorry, it was them, wasn't it?
If I were doing a campaign, I would start by this:
Each constituency candidate, in their publicity, states what their aims are, both on a local level and on a party level. They limit this to just a few key items - whatever local issues there may be, and stuff like economy, defence etc.
Next, they state, explicitly, the steps required in order to achieve these aims, and the time frame required. next to this, they state as accurately as possible the amount of money required to complete these aims and each stage. That way, candidates can demonstrate a) value for money, and b) whether they're being fiscally realistic.
After all, good government comes out of good finances.