Friday 17 March 2023

What are the odds?


The old joke is that you can tell when a politician is lying because his or her lips are moving. There is another rule as well, though, which is of less universal application, which is that denying things three times turns them into certainties. I think it was devised after Nixon had denied three times that he was going to resign – and then did. A variant of this applies to Boris Johnson – the more firmly and frequently he commits to doing (or not doing) something, the more certain it becomes that he will do the opposite of what he says he is or is not going to do.

The Guardian is reporting today that he has been reselected to stand in his current constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. It’s not the first time he has committed to standing there again, but being formally nominated and accepting the nomination surely increases the odds that he will, in fact, do something completely different. The Guardian’s sub-headline claims that this is “...quashing speculation that he might seek safer seat”. Au contraire; according to the Nixon rule, giving such a firm promise to the members of his party in that constituency merely increases the probability that he will indeed seek a safer seat. He has, after all, something of a reputation for firming up on promises before breaking them. And letting down people who depended on him is second nature. Time will tell, but today is probably a good day for those who enjoy a little flutter to visit their local bookie and lay a bet against him standing again in Uxbridge.

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