Nats keep more pledges than Labour

Politicians keep more promises than people think and between 1972 and 2005 National was fractionally better at keeping its word – making good on 1% more of its pledges than Labour.

This was the finding of a six year study by political science student Nathan McCluskey.

National and Labour governments between 1972 and 2005 honoured at least half of their pre-election manifesto pledges with some administrations nearly 90 percent true to their word . . .

“According to opinion polls the public consider politicians to be about as trustworthy as used care salespeople or professional wrestlers,” he said today when he released his findings.

“This causes scepticism and generates a lack of faith in the democratic nature of our politics, calling into question the efficacy of our representative electoral system.”

Mr McCluskey, a Canterbury University doctoral student, found that in most cases the major parties increased their promise keeping with each consecutive term in office.

But that didn’t help, because as they kept more of their promises their support dropped and they were voted out.

“This means, in effect, there appears to be no electoral pay-off to parties for doing what they said they would,” he said.

He put that down to people not knowing much about promises which were kept but remembering the odd occasion when an important policy wasn’t delivered, and a mood for change after a government had been in power for several years.

Bill Birch told me that in his experience in politics governments always got criticised for what they did wrong or didn’t do at all but rarely were appreciated for the things they did well. At the time I thought that sounded cynical but these findings confirm he was being realistic.

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