Friday, April 22, 2005

Manifesto round-up

We in SQA thought with a General Election looming it was timely to examine the manifestos of the main political parties for mentions of archives.

We were disappointed but not surprised with the outcome of our investigations.

The Labour Party

This party's manifesto impressed us to a limited extent as despite the image given it by John Prezza Prescott of fisticuffs fame, it does mention libraries, museums and the built heritage. These mentions can be found under chapter 8 Quality of Life: Excellence for All.

All in all, the Labour manifesto's authors have given some thought to our cultural heritage and attention is paid to libraries in the information age and the Heritage Protection Review which is concerned with the built heritage.

The Conservative Party

This manifesto is disjointed and lacks the detailed content of Labour's. The only mention of anything remotely conforming to our profession is a brief and vague undertaking to support creativity and excellence in the arts.

The Liberal Democrats manifesto

Well, what can we say. The LDs haven't even produced a UK manifesto. Instead they have produced manifestos for Scotland, England and Wales which can't be of much help to the UK National Archives, HM Armed Forces and the Foreign Office! This is proof if ever it was needed of the LDs' determination to fragment the UK and place its so-called regions at the mercy of the European Commission.

However, the LDs offer restoration of the independence of the National Lottery Fund, re-writing the constitutions of the national museums and galleries, founding a new heritage agency to fund arts, culture, creative arts and arts based industries, developing a strong cultural heritage strand in the National Lottery's distributions, establishing an inter-departmental ministerial committee on archaeology, supporting free admission to DCMS sponsored museums, encouraging the loan of museum and gallery objects and providing endowment funding for national, regional and local cultural institutions.

This is impressive as far as it goes but archives is not mentioned.

UK Independence Party (manifesto)

No mention of archives and cultural heritage.

Veritas (manifesto)

No mention of archives and cultural heritage.

Plaid Cymru (manifesto)

Plaid offers unspecific support for the arts, museums and libraries as important public services. Again, there is no mention of archives and there is no clarification of the future roles of the UK National Archives and National Library of Wales in the event Wales achieves so-called independence.

Scottish National Party (manifesto)

This whingeing manifesto makes no mention of archives and cultural heritage that we can find. We muse over the fine detail of managing the UK National Archives' relationship with the National Archives of Scotland in the event Scotland ever achieves so-called independence.

It does however make the peculiar statement that independence is sought after and cherished the world over. It might well be, but why then is the SNP in favour of continued Scottish membership of the EU? Click here for an EU map of the UK.

We asked our spokesman Benedict Crumplethorne to comment further.

The situation regarding political parties is merely a manifestation of the same culture pervading the civil service. Despite the work of TNA, the National Council on Archives and the much trumpeted Archives Task Force, nothing is getting through to civil servants and policy makers.

The Society of Archivists
[sic] has a Legislation Panel whose responsibilities include maintaining and developing contacts with members of both Houses of Parliament and MEPs with archive interests. What have they been doing? Supposedly now is that right time to strike, while the public is reeling from the BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are, a crucial gimic used by the Archives Task Force.

So much for lobbying for national archives legislation where it matters.

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