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Nov 08 2012

Promises vs Intents: What exactly was Labour’s Election Manifesto?

We’ve looked before at Labour’s manifesto published at the last election, where it was mentioned – more than once – that they  weren’t going to mess with Harrow’s libraries.

At the last Council meeting in July, there was some discussion on what the manifesto actually was.

The Conservatives thought:

…that party manifestos are promises made to Harrow residents, and that promises should be kept.

Labour’s view was:

…that party manifestos are a statement of intent which gives Harrow residents a clear indication of what a party intends to do if elected.

Our view is that an ‘intent’ is a goal or an aim; something that you’d try to do, and you might possibly try quite hard, but that there were no guarantees about it. A ‘promise’ is, perhaps, more of an assurance that you’ll do something. The difference is possibly clearer in this example: “I intended to get to work early today, but I promise I will tomorrow”

So, back to election manifestos, are Labour simply saying that the content of their manifesto is merely a list of things they’ll try and do? That they’re not really under any obligation to do them? That they’ll do them if it takes their fancy?

We suspect that what is really boils down to is not how either the Conservatives or Labour define a manifesto – nor even how the dictionary defines it – but how it’s seen in the eyes of residents and voters.

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