Nick Clegg and other LibDem leaders have made a very public journey from signed pre-election pledges to abolish university tuition fees, to post-election support for a trebling of tuition fees.
Considerations of this u-turn spark instant reactions in most of us, whatever our political persuasion. These reactions usually represent one of two mutually incompatible schools of thinking.
2. The Pragmatist v. The Idealist
A. The Pragmatist
- The typical pragmatist’s reaction is to say ‘Get over it’. Do you really expect people to honour every promise made when campaigning for office? They will promise whatever is necessary to secure support, whatever they think most appeals to their target audience. Later, if challenged to deliver on those promises, they may distance themselves from any that are ‘undeliverable’. This should be expected.
- If they think it unlikely that they will ever be challenged to deliver on their commitments, then they could be tempted to make more extravagant promises than they might otherwise have made. You cannot criticise them for this behaviour: you simply need to be less easily convinced by their promises in the first place. It’s a case of caveat emptor: let the buyer beware.