Earlier this year I read a report on voter apathy comissioned by Lodestone Communications with the research conducted by Survation. Q31 on the survey asks 'Which of the following would be most likely to persuade you to vote in a UK general election?'
Seven choices were offered, with an eighth of 'other'. I asked for (and received) the answers respondents gave to the 'other' category in this question. The majority of answers to the question related to frustration with politicians, for example:
- If politicians were forced to stick to their mandate
- If politicians did not lie and were accountable for what they say
- A legally binding agreement that they must adhere to their promises or be executed
- If non-conformance to the manifesto were made an offence punishable with long jail sentence
- What you say is what you will do.
This all came to mind this weekend when I read the Conservative party manifesto. It's 84 pages and the word 'will' as in 'We will cut a further £10 bn of red tape …' (p19) appears 817 times if the analysis by City a.m. is believable. Maybe I'm wrong in thinking that every instance of the word 'will' is attached to a pledge but a quick glance back to check suggests that it is. If we say that the manifesto is 74 pages because there are several pages of photos and that there are a number of occurrences of 'will' that are not attached to pledges that still leaves a lot that are.
So now I am curious to know whether and how these will be carried through on, or whether a future survey – say in 2019 would show a similar level of frustration with empty promises. It's of interest to me, now I'm a Civil Servant, because, as the Manifesto states (p 47) 'Government is the servant of the British people, not their master.' And the Civil Service exists as 'an integral and key part of the government of the United Kingdom. It supports the government of the day in developing and implementing its policies, and in delivering public services.'
John Manzoni, CEO, Civil Service, gave an insight (May 14 FDA union address) into how he expects the Civil Service to deliver on what the government has pledged. CSW reports him as saying there was now "a dawning recognition" that "the modus operandi of the last five years won't get us where we want to be … I know we can be more efficient; the question is how do we mobilise the organisation in getting there?" He went on to say "If the civil service is being tasked with delivering 21st century public services with pre-war resources, then the government needs to demonstrate that valuing civil servants, ensuring that they have the right skills, paying them fairly, matching commitments to resources and genuinely engaging with them are the critical elements of the new deal that needs to be struck with civil servants."
It seems that Manzoni is saying that to deliver the Manifesto pledges a new deal must be struck with Civil Servants. Will this happen? It's another question I'm curious about.