Principled politicians know what they believe in and what their party stands for – they don’t take their line from the last focus group or the latest donor.
The Labour Party evolved to champion working people and protect weaker members of society. It believed the state should solve inequalities and it supported the role of the trades unions in protecting workers’ rights.
Yet Labour introduced a new tax on pensions, targeting vulnerable people who had saved for their retirement. Labour removed the lower rate of tax and made the poorest workers pay more tax. Worse, the Blair government strategy grew from focus groups and popularity polls, not core values and beliefs. Its policies were held together with political spin that focused on delivering a majority.
The Conservative Party has long declared its support for a small state, individual liberty, free trade and low tax. If, like the Tories, you believe in the role of business to create wealth and jobs, you’ll encourage growth. Yet the Coalition leaves small businesses tied up in form filling, red tape and high taxes.
One Tory principle is to encourage people to look after themselves so they don’t rely on the state. It’s therefore odd that saving is being discouraged by the withdrawal of the guaranteed 2% above inflation National Savings account.
Policies are up for sale
The standing of politics and Parliament has been diminished by the ‘cash for questions’ scandal, the expenses saga and the ‘cash for access’ revelations.
And the way that political parties are funded undermines voters’ trust in politicians. Rich party donors seem to be able to buy government policy rather than it being determined by principles, values and beliefs.