The importance of policies to a Political party

Reform Head of Policy Simon Marcus with Mid Cheshire Parliamentary Candidate Emma Guy

Recently, when I attended the Spring Party conference, I was introduced to Simon Marcus, our Head of Policy. We had just seen for the first time, the draft copy of our ‘Contract with YOU’ and I was hugely encouraged by the scope and scale of the document. After all, if a party has aspirations to govern, then the least they should be able to do is to produce policies that address the areas of most importance to the country.

Simon was incredibly generous with his time, and spent it taking me through the thought process behind producing a document like this. Unsurprisingly, he told me that it had taken considerable time and debate to come up with a series of policies that not only would the members back, but that the rest of the electorate could back as well. Narrow, insular policies focusing on particular hot-button topics will never be enough to convince the majority of people that you’re the right party to govern.

In turn, this got me to thinking about how similar the process is to running a business. In business you have a mission and vision, followed by a series of strategies, tactics and targets: precisely what had been unveiled to us at the conference.

Policies are the backbone of every political party. Every manifesto is littered with them and every party hopes they will provide:

  1. Guidance – to help and advise the principles for operations and decision making.
  2. Accountability – if you set a target, you should be accountable for your performance to that target.
  3. Consistency – Policies give clear guidelines of what is expected or acceptable to any organisation. 
  4. Risk management  – by outlining the issues you are trying to solve and the solutions you propose, you are also demonstrating an understanding of the risks inherent in your course of action.
  5. Supporter confidence in the party – policies that not only the core of your support, but others outside of your party can get behind, give you a solid platform to gain consensus amongst the majority of people.
  6. Continual improvement – some of the goals may be aspirational and policies help to codify these and provide a framework for measuring continual improvement towards resolving the policy issue.

Above all, they foster a sense of trust and fairness and demonstrate your ethical approach to solving the problems that face the country. Moreover, they set standards by which you can expect to be measured and set a culture based on values and consensus.

Without policies, how can you convey all of these things to the whole of the country?

As in business, they provide a framework and give everyone an insight into the mission, vision, values and culture of any organisation. This is what we have done with the draft ‘Contract with YOU’.

Currently, it is in draft format as the party are actively seeking feedback on the policies and plans contained within it, and a lot of feedback has already been sent. But we want more. If you can spare some time, please read it for yourself (download a copy here) and let us know your thoughts?

After all, without your support we can’t make the changes we know are needed to restore the fortunes of the United Kingdom.