Why do we tell lies? To get off the hook – ‘it wasn’t me, gov’. It certainly looks as if that applies to the incinerator/Euro fiasco case. Or to protect someone we might spare them the truth. No doubt there are other reasons too.
But how to explain politicians telling lies, whopping lies? There’s a funny thing about the word “lying” – if we ever say in the States that someone is lying, the presiding officer (Bailiff, or whoever) will pull us up and force us not to use that word. If we switch to “deliberately misleading” – that is not allowed either. Which can lead to some shenanigans:
“Daniel Wimberley ……….. those comments were meant to … they were calculated to be misleading, they did not …
The Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
I am not sure it is proper to say they were calculated to be misleading, that is quite a serious imputation. Obviously they may have proved to be misleading but I do not think I can let you say they were calculated to be misleading. It is a very serious allegation.
Deputy of St. Mary:
All right, I shall amend that to ‘they gave sources and a very partial view of the truth was presented to Members in a way that would mislead them.’ ”
Source: Hansard, May 13th 2009
But the untruthfulness sure goes on, it is bad news for the Assembly creating as it does division and hostility, and it is bad news for the island too. How can Ministers command the respect of the public if they act dishonestly? How can the public engage with the States to find the best solutions if suspicion and bad faith rule?
I would like to see an island where the relationship between people and government goes beyond respect to genuine warmth, an island where this political divisiveness is a thing of the past, where government departments act openly and transparently, where there is a true partnership between States and people. Why can’t we have this? Why not?
We are an island of just over 90,000 souls, if we cannot do it, who can?
So, on to the cases, or “Grim Wonderous Fairy Tales of the States”: (so wonderous are they that if you click on them then you get magically taken to a different page entirely where the story is told) (errrr fifth and seventh bullets still not written – sorry!)
- hedging the Euro – who notdunnit?
- how not to frighten the chickens – just don’t tell them how much it (the incinerator) might cost
- how to change the meaning by leaving out a few words
- ‘I will not increase GST’
- how to make 2600 unwanted people “disappear”
- how to consult the public and then shaft them
- how to twist the figures – for beginners
AND FINALLY THE BIGGEST AND MOST WONDEROUS TALE OF ALL
- how to persuade everyone that States spending is “out of control” (aaaargh!!!! heeeelp!!!!)
Just bear in mind all the talk in the JEP about “standards slipping in the States” as you read these cases, sorry, fairy tales. Just whose standards are slipping?
Later, I will try to explain a bit more on why it is that politicians (some of them) lie.