Tis’ the season of empty promises, Fa la la la la,

Houses of ParliamentWith the ink on the Scottish referendum results barely dry, the season of party political conferences has now thankfully gone.. Being the last series of conferences before the next General Election, one expects the promises and policies for the future to be more outlandish than usual. On that front I do not appear to have been disappointed with promises of oodles of new doctors, GP’s and nurses for the National Health Service (NHS) combined with usual tax the rich speech from the Shadow Chancellor all wrapped up in a 10 year plan. This is from the same party that completed 13 years in power and left behind an enormous black hole of a monetary deficient that the public have been paying back with years of enforced austerity. No mention was made of the deficient, future austerity or the vexed question of immigration. Apparently these most important of subjects were simply ‘forgotten’.

Apparent sweeping tax reductions promised by the Tories and tax the rich to pay the poor from the Lib/Dems. It is of little wonder the electorate has become ultra-cynical of  all politicians. Most of the electorate have deep rooted suspicions that whatever is promised, following a General Election, the same politicians will either quickly find good excuses why their promises cannot be upheld or more likely, simply quietly forgotten. If something like a signed cast-iron pledge not to increase university fees can be quickly discarded within a few days of forming a coalition government, then mere promises on just about anything tend to sound vacuous after that.

As the sands of time to the next General election quickly ebb away, it is likely that the speed of new but hollow promises being made will accelerate dramatically to a point where they might be considered a bit ‘braggish’ in something of a  “I can do better than you” spectacle.

Until now, the normal political model has been for the steadfast rump of the electorate to remain faithful with the political party of their choice and only if the incumbent government has been particularly poor during its term of office is change of government likely.

It does now seem probable this comfortable political model is about to change. Like a pot simmering on the stove, the main political parties have conveniently ignored the growing discontent on issues like immigration, enforced austerity, loss of governance to Europe and so on. These are issues that have effected peoples daily lives and their families as they manifest themselves through housing shortages, crowded schools, pressures on the NHS and evaporation of earnings to name but a few. The politicians largely insulated from such effects have ignored them at their peril. Politicians have failed to appreciate that unless the heat is turned down, there comes a point where the simmering pot with boil-over.

Normally as a General Election approaches it is often possible to sense the mood of the country and how the political parties are likely to fare. At the moment there is a strange absence of such a feeling rather like a phoney war. The only feeling I strongly sense at the moment is which party, namely the Lib/Dems that clearly are going nowhere except into possible Parliamentary extinction. In two recent by-elections at Clacton and Heywood and Middleton the Lib/Dems share of the vote totally collapsed. Although they were not expected to win either by-election, on that showing of lack of support it is unlikely they will win any seats in the next General Election including the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The by-elections also show a serious erosion in support for the Labour Party. Heywood and Middleton was until now something of a Labour stronghold yet despite putting a brave face on their win, the truth is they barely scraped in by the skin of their teeth only just winning by 617 votes to the challenge from the more recently formed United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

All the main political parties are now running scared of UKIP and with the present state of flux in political parties there is now no clear front runner for the next election

I would not be at all surprised to see many long sitting MP’s swept aside by the incoming floodtide of support for UKIP. With a national deep resentment at the parliamentary expenses scandal which many MP’s wanted to keep a state secret and are attempting to do so again. This coupled with the issues I raised earlier, MP’s will only have themselves to blame. It really is a case of watch this space for further developments.

As for the deluge of political promises we are likely to face increases in the next few months? it is always worth remembering, Promises are but words, and words but wind.

(Samuel Butler)

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