of the election. Yes, I know someone more famous said it was the first casualty of war but I’m writing about the campaign that started yesterday.
The Tories have produced a 60 page document proving that Labour have £20 billion of unfunded spending plans. Labour emphatically deny it. Will you read 60 pages before deciding who to vote for? Would you understand it if you did?
Most people have little faith in politicians. Do you blame them? How can you tell who’s telling you the truth? Adverts have to be legal, decent, honest and truthful don’t they? Well, there is an exception. Adverts to influence the outcome of an election are excluded from the code. Now I wonder who made that rule?
Did you know that there is nothing you can do to make an MP tell the truth? I’ve been active in the campaign to save Filton Airfield. Jack Lopresti, the local MP, insists it had to close because it wasn’t profitable. We obtained copies of the audited accounts submitted to Companies house by the company that ran it.
These clearly show a profit. Even in the last year of operation, when it had been run into the ground, it still made £1.6m. I would have thought that audited accounts were factual documents. But Jack Lopresti still insists it wasn’t profitable. He says “I understand Filton Airfield made profit in it’s final operating year because BAE were charging full market rates to Airbus to use the airfield”.
What other rates could it have charged? I wrote to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and asked if she could make him confirm the facts. The answer is no. It is not even illegal for an MP to lie to the House of Commons.
Does this matter? Well I think it does. I shall vote for Stephen Williams in May because as a member of the LibDems I’ve got to know him. He’s a thoroughly decent, honest, hard working MP. And I dread to think what the last four and a half years would have been like without fifty seven LibDem MPs holding the Tories back.
But what about the average voter? How do you make up your mind?
It’s time we had a way of making public figures tell us the truth. I’m not suggesting a charter for nit-picking pedants. Just that when they get something factual wrong they are obliged to correct it. I can’t see how we can have a real democracy without it.