Monday 3 August 2020

Truth is not on the agenda

The Lib Dems seem to find it hard to keep up at the best of times, but last week’s call for the resumption of 10 Downing Street’s daily press briefings “to provide clearer guidance” about the pandemic rather spectacularly misses the point. They’re right, of course, to identify that people “have been left confused by the mixed messaging” in recent months, and also when they say that it is “crucial that the government learns from these mistakes”. But it’s a very big jump from a completely reasonable diagnosis to a proposed cure which involves a PM who has spent the last four months in a state of confusion, and who has entirely deliberately spread confusing and mixed messages, being given more air time to continue the process. We certainly do need more clarity and more precise facts but the suggestion that we’re going to get any of that from the current occupant of Number 10 displays a touching, if rather naïve, belief that a congenital liar is capable of changing, even if he wanted to do so. Daily briefings by the scientific experts unencumbered by any political presence might help, but I find it hard to believe that the government would stand back and allow their own untrammelled and fact-free optimism to be undermined by anything as banal as truth and honesty. When faced with a government which claims, albeit with the self-satisfied smirk which the PM seems unable ever to remove from his visage, that 60,000 deaths is a world-beating triumph, the chances of getting clear and unequivocal messaging approximates to zero. If the Lib Dems want to start introducing clarity into political debate, they might do better to start by looking at their own truth-bending election graphs. That’s an area where they could actually have some influence on events.

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