Party Manifestos: Should they be legally binding contracts?
One thing is sure, Innovation & Politics dont fit well together however;
Why is it not a crime to break party manifestos promises? This seems a simple way of making election manifestos genuinely meaningful documents – and also protecting the democratic process. Some allowance could be made for changing situations once power has been won, but I don’t see general downside in holding party leaders individually and criminally responsible for broken guarantees.
The simple answer is that it’s not a crime because Parliament hasn’t passed a law making manifesto’s legally enforceable. However, there would be a couple of problems with what you’re proposing. Firstly, if you were to have a period of coalition rule, then that involves compromises – you may find yourself on a course of action that you had not anticipated or that runs contrary to your manifesto pledge. So, the Tories could be said to have broken theirs by not withdrawing the UK for the ECHR, but that’s because of the practicality of being in a coalition. Secondly, who would be culpable if manifesto pledges weren’t met the Prime Minster? What if Parliament didn’t vote for the measures in the manifesto despite the Prime Minister trying to introduce the relevant bill. Would s/he be culpable? Would the MPs for the PM’s party who rebelled against the bill by culpable? What if the PM didn’t have a majority in the House of Lords and was unable to pass a bill that would achieve precisely what was set out in a manifesto promise would the PM be culpable then? Finally, if people were to be legally accountable for what is in manifestos, wouldn’t they become somewhat shorter on promises than they are at the moment to reduce their liability?
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