24 April, 2015

The Art of Manifesto Writing

If you live in the UK, you will be aware that there is apparently only one newsworthy event going on at the moment. The upcoming General Election - mercifully only a couple of weeks away now - is all anyone seems to be talking about. Democracy is a wonderful thing and I always use my vote, but there's no denying it can get tedious and frustrating listening to a lot of people who think they have answers, arguing over what the question should be.

As a writer, this article in The Guardian tickled my fancy. It's about which manifesto is most "nicely written". (For those who aren't in the UK, you should know The Guardian is a left-wing newspaper, but it's a flippant, rather than campaigning article.)

A taste of the tone of the article can be summed up with this quotation: "Not a single manifesto has the guts to declare its intention to discriminate against people with freckles, strip the inhabitants of Swansea of their civil rights, deport Bruce Forsyth or promise a free bottle of whisky a day to every household."

Apparently the Conservative effort is full of photos of "random, anonymous human beings grinning at the camera, to show that it is humans, rather than rabbits or dishwashers, that politicians care most about." Although they do also avoid cliches, which has to be a plus!

The Labour manifesto tells us what our country is good at... "That we are also good at haranguing immigrants and puking all over each other in city centres goes tactfully unmentioned." While the Liberal Democrats might be suggesting either that we should be "a closed, backward-looking but confident and optimistic nation, or an open, forward-looking but diffident and nihilistic one." The SNP's offering is boring but "more literate than Ukip’s manifesto, however, though so is the average 10-year-old."

And so it goes on.

The prize for stylishness should, according to this article, go to the Green party. For balance I should point out that, while the Green party are left-wing and therefore more likely (though not necessarily - don't shoot!) to be favoured by artists of all kinds, they have stirred up a bit of a fuss by proposing some worrying changes to copyright law. (If anyone has any thoughts on that, I'd be interested to hear them!)

This has got me thinking - what writer-friendly policies do you think should be introduced in your country? Personally, I'm working on a free chocolate allowance to anybody working on the first draft of a novel, plus one paid day off work or free day's childcare per month for anybody who's submitted a piece of writing to more than three places in the last six months. What do you think?

7 comments:

  1. I do believe in copyright protection, and for a decent amount of time. Writers, unless they have a blockbuster, don't really earn a lot, and it's no use saying they should get a better paying job. They usually already have a rather poor-paying job to support their writing. The high-paying, high-stress jobs don't leave room or energy to write. Their published work should at least be protected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's interesting that they don't extend their 'pledge' (betrayal) to all forms of intellectual property.

      Delete
    2. I think they'll probably back down. It seemed to be a not-thought-out idea that slipped into the manifesto and they are now regretting it! LIfe+70 years might be excessive, but 14 years would be ridiculous. An author should at least hold copyright for life!

      Delete
  2. End tax on ebooks, unless that revenue is ringfenced for child and adult literacy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are e-books taxed and paper books not? Or are they taxed more, or...? What's the current situation?

      Delete
  3. That's the first I'd heard of the 14 year thing, which is ridiculous. I'm naturally pretty 'green', but I hear too much of stuff like that to be able to support them. But the main parties are promising everyone so many things I'm hoping they'll get in touch and offer me a new computer. (Ed, David - my current one's quite old and slow. I have strong and unshakable political principles but the first to get in touch gets my vote.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my best friends at school had a dad who was very high up in the Tory party. When David Cameron became leader there had been rumour that her dad was also going to contend for it (he didn't, but was a minister for a long time when they got into power). We were 18 at the time of the election and promised her we were totally shallow enough to vote for her dad if he was leader, even if we'd never vote Tory otherwise! thankfully, he wasn't leader so I didn't have to!

      Delete