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Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. 22 Dec '10 13:15
    The capitulation of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition government to almost every aspect of the Tory agenda has involved them in some fairly remarkable U-turns, so that they are now wildly breaking promises made in their election campaign earlier this year.

    If a politician breaks a pledge made in a written manifesto after winning office, should his constituents be able to sue him?
  2. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    22 Dec '10 13:24
    A lot is said about "promises", but I'm not sure what that means. Is everything in an electoral program a "promise"? What could constitute "force majeure" to not going through with a policy that would exonerate the politician? Nothing? Is that desirable? We're also talking about a minority part of a governing coalition. In what sense are they liable?

    Politics is a lot about compromise and pragmatism. If Lib Dem voters feel cheated they can let the party know and then refrain from voting next time. I think a lot of grandstanding is being made about this but such strict rules would be counterproductive, in my opinion.

    In the end, the focus of anger has been on the LibDems and the Conservatives have been forgotten despite being the main players in the coalition.
  3. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    22 Dec '10 13:33
    That said, I wouldn't mind a rule that forces parties to explain publicly and officially why they did not keep them.
  4. 22 Dec '10 13:48
    A manifesto is not a promise. The LibDems are the minor partner in the coalition. The coalition will probably collapse if they don't get AV through.
  5. 22 Dec '10 14:03
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    The capitulation of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition government to almost every aspect of the Tory agenda has involved them in some fairly remarkable U-turns, so that they are now wildly breaking promises made in their election campaign earlier this year.

    If a politician breaks a pledge made in a written manifesto after winning office, should his constituents be able to sue him?
    If so we are all rich!!

    Sure, we will just march on up to the Capital and demand that they fork over what is due us.
  6. 23 Dec '10 00:04
    In the end, the focus of anger has been on the LibDems and the Conservatives have been forgotten despite being the main players in the coalition.

    Isn't that because the Tories are implementing the policies they pledged to implement in their manifesto? Voters are not angry with the Tories because they haven't broken their pledges. That's the sense in which the Lib Dems, and not the Tories, are liable, despite their being a minor part of the coalition.

    But I agree with you that politicians need to be allowed some flexibility; obviously it's not always clear at election time what policies are going to need to be implemented some months or years down the line. There would have to be some very clear rules about what constituted breach of promise, and if the party in question could demonstrate that circumstances had changed since the election, to the satisfaction of a judge, then they would be exonerated.
  7. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    23 Dec '10 00:09 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    [b]In the end, the focus of anger has been on the LibDems and the Conservatives have been forgotten despite being the main players in the coalition.

    Isn't that because the Tories are implementing the policies they pledged to implement in their manifesto? Voters are not angry with the Tories because they haven't broken their pledges. That's the sense d changed since the election, to the satisfaction of a judge, then they would be exonerated.[/b]
    I haven't tried, but I'd imagine any such set of rules would be nigh impossible to write.

    What if, for example, the party pledges not to raise taxes, but then a war breaks out and the govt needs to pay for it or another emergency arises? People would still sue; but how would the rules be written to allow for emergencies? What should be considered an emergency? Would courts use this rule to strike down laws they don't like? Would this increase judicial activism and give the courts a permanent check on the legislature?

    The best methods by which to keep politicians in check are elections.
  8. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    23 Dec '10 00:10
    Originally posted by Palynka
    That said, I wouldn't mind a rule that forces parties to explain publicly and officially why they did not keep them.
    That's more workable; though I'd imagine it would be pretty easy to make something up.
  9. 23 Dec '10 00:42
    Would this increase judicial activism and give the courts a permanent check on the legislature?

    I thought that's what the courts were supposed to be for...

    Seriously, I agree that it's probably unworkable as a proposal for various reasons, including some of those that you suggest. Although I'm sure it wouldn't be quite beyond the wit of man to draft legislation clarifying precisely what constitutes an emergency.
  10. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    23 Dec '10 01:47
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    I thought that's what the courts were supposed to be for...
    Depends on who you ask, I guess. "Conservatives" are generally of the opinion that courts should stick to interpreting the law rather than making it. Yes, courts should strike down laws that conflict with whatever basic principles the country adheres to (in the US, that's the Constitution), but I don't know if I'd like the idea of courts being allowed to strike down laws they don't like on such flimsy grounds as that they conflict with certain campaign promises.
  11. 24 Dec '10 16:09
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    The capitulation of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition government to almost every aspect of the Tory agenda has involved them in some fairly remarkable U-turns, so that they are now wildly breaking promises made in their election campaign earlier this year.

    If a politician breaks a pledge made in a written manifesto after winning office, should his constituents be able to sue him?
    Yes, at the very LEAST sue him