Thursday, December 11, 2008


Honesty a Rare Commodity in Opposition as Well as in Government

I found myself agreeing with Max Hastings' piece on Monday that Cameron has to be careful what he offers voters. To be truly responsible he ought to advocate swingeing cuts in expenditure on welfare or projects like Trident in orderto minimize tax increases needed to reduce debt. But he won't because, as he points out:

what sort of platform would it be for the Conservatives to promise The Politics Of Pain? So accustomed is our pampered society to the notion that all suffering should be avoidable, that a party which promised to be cruel to be kind would almost certainly be decimated on general election day....A truthful opposition could say many things to the people, but most would do scant service to its poll standing.

To reinforce this truth, one only has to recall Labour's telling tactic in the last two elections of demanding to know where the Tory cuts will be. And the Tories have no reason to complain. When John Smith explained his moderate proposals to increase taxation in 1992, Tories attacked them rabidly as a 'Double Whammy' and went on to win the election. It's true that political culture has changed since then: people have accepted that good public services require adequate funding and having them so run down by the Tories 1979-1997, has made us wary of anything sounding as if it will produce the same result.

But voters will always want to have their bounty from government while not wanting to pay for it. It would be honest to come clean but Hastings is right to predict that Cameron won't.

[I'm sorry not to have blogged so often recently but I've been very busy this term and on top of that my computer has broken down and I'm forced to use my less than adequate lap-top]

Honesty is a rare quality in politics, it's academic whether it's government or opposition.

Sadly 'the great unwashed' don't buy the truth they buy the dream.
Honesty may be rare in politics - but the political system and army of watchers, commentators (us included) and back-stabbers demand it to be so.
At least it's fun reading between the lines.
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