One way of restoring respect to our Parliament would be for our Government to keep the promises it makes to us. Today, I've espied three news reports that relate to promises, one of which has been broken and two of which will be kept.
First up is the announcement by the Irish Prime Minister that in October the people of Ireland are going to be given another go at coming up with the 'right result' on the Lisbon Treaty. This is the same treaty that was rejected by Irish voters in a referendum last year. Its also a similar treaty to that which all mainstream parties in the UK promised would not be signed up to by Britain without approval in a referendum, a promise that only the Conservatives have stood by - though I should point out that the apologists for this dishonourable act claim that the Lisbon Treaty is sufficiently different from the 'constitutional' treaty it replaced to provide cover for reneging. What it looks as if we are witnessing is a stitch-up between the Irish and British Governments (plus the European Union) to ensure that the Lisbon Treaty becomes law before a General Election is held - because it sure wouldn't be without a referendum if David Cameron became Prime Minister first. This broken promise has caused great harm to our democracy. Its no wonder that Ukip did so well in the recent Euro elections - or that British people are so disillusioned with politicians.
The second promise relates to the ban on hunting with dogs. William Hague has given an assurance that a Conservative Government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote in Government time. This is a controversial issue - but its a longstanding promise made by David Cameron. Personally, I believe the ban to be intolerant and very bad law. But more importantly it was a promise, and it should be kept.
And the third promise in the news today relates to the threshold at which Inheritance Tax becomes payable. In a very significant speech at the Conservative Party Conference in 2007, widely thought to have frightened Gordon Brown from holding a General Election, the Shadow Chancellor promised that a Conservative Government would raise the threshold to £1,000,000. Because of the changed state of public finances, many voices are calling for this promise to be dropped. But George Osborne has today reaffirmed his promise. Personally, I agree with this tax change. But again and more importantly it was a promise, and it should be honoured.