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Parties have to play cards of substance

Guernsey Press Comment | Published:

For party politics to have any meaningful impact in June’s island-wide election, those involved need to move quickly beyond the glib nebulous pledges that we have witnessed so far.

Whether it has been the two associations that have trundled along behind the scenes or the Alliance Party Guernsey, we have yet to see anything that goes beyond promising to be all things to all people.

Better education, travel links, healthcare, lower government spending, protection for pensioners, maybe something that says environment, oh, and no more tax rises.

But those broadbrush statements often fail to stand up to any type of interrogation or intellectual rigour – and they never provide a proposal to say how.

Maybe there really is a magic money tree.

Say what you will about the Conservative Party’s election campaign, but its ‘get Brexit done’ message, coupled with modest increases in public spending, more police, nurses and hospitals, really did cut through.

Labour announced radical policy initiatives virtually every day, including mass nationalisation and free broadband. Not that it did them any good.

Our parties or associations are starting from a base of nothing and quickly need to create some substance, so far there is nothing to choose between them as they all play the same bland cards. Some of it also comes across as naive – for example, demanding a review of air links and the runway would make more sense if it wasn’t already happening.

Many do not believe it is possible to get candidates to agree to a detailed manifesto and we are more likely to see groupings based around broad values. That will do a disservice to the public.

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We are in danger of entering into an island-wide election when the only way to make a judgment on a candidate will be based on soundbites, on impressions and on reputation – there will be minimal opportunity for detailed scrutiny.

The electorate will be unable to give a clear message of what it wants to see happen in the next term because it will never be given any real options.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann

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