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Monday, July 28, 2008

We can't handle the truth

Interesting interview with historian David Runciman on Radio Four last night, He's written a book about hypocrisy in politics. It seems to argue that our apparent expectation that politicians make their actions match their rhetoric is unrealistic, forcing our leaders into adopting positions that are at odds with their personalities and not leading to the outcomes we want. He wrote a piece in the Guardian about it, focusing on how Gordon Brown measures up to these demands:

Brown in particular is paying the price for his inability to come to terms with the new confessional politics. People want to know who he really is, but if what he is really is a cautious and reserved politician who plays the percentages, then the public don't want to know. So he is forced to tour the daytime-TV sofas trying to show his human side, and ends up revealing only how uncomfortable he is with the politics of self-revelation. His caution and his constant calculation make him look like a man in a mask - the classic hypocrite with something to hide.

I can't abide the "they're all cheats and liars" view of politicians (although if that's true then at least it must mean they're a reasonable sampling of the public at large). We're the people who force them into obfuscation because we're always ready to scream as soon as they propose doing anything that might not be in our personal interests. Now that everyone in public life, from politicians through football managers to union bosses and chief executives, have taken the same course in masking the unpleasant truth behind linguistic emollients we can all now sympathise with the wise words of Carrie Fisher when she said "it's hard to be sincere in Hollywood because everybody does that fake sincerity so well."

1 comment:

  1. From the Daily Mash. Which is always, without fail, spot-on in its “take” on any given issue.


    PARTY LEADERS FORCED TO HOLIDAY IN BRITAIN


    Gordon Brown and David Cameron both considered resigning from their posts after being forced to spend another summer holiday in Britain, it was claimed last night.
    Both party leaders are understood to be furious at the prospect of two weeks in a dreary seaside hell-hole thanks to the economic slowdown and 'bastard environmentalists'.

    Sources say the prime minister asked senior advisers where in his contract it said he had to go to Suffolk, while Mr Cameron had to be talked out of an angry rejection of his hard-won green credentials.

    Mr Brown is understood to have told colleagues: "I earn 190 grand a year. I could go to that place in Mauritius where the hotel rooms are little huts perched above the water. First bloody class. But because that arsehole Darling has fucked my economy I have to go to Southwold.

    "And the fucking tree huggers would do a spaz if I got on a plane, despite the fact I'll be emitting 400 tonnes of carbon just keeping my seaside cottage warm in the middle of FUCKING JULY!"

    While some political observers say two weeks on the bleak, windswept Suffolk coast fits well with the prime minister's brooding character, his friends say he's not that fucking miserable.

    Meanwhile a source close to Mr Cameron said: "Would he rather be next to the pool at a sprawling, tastefully renovated farmhouse in Gascony, where it is currently 88 degrees? Of course I fucking would.

    "But because 'everyone is so poor', I - he - has to pretend to give a shit by dragging his arse to some rain sodden toilet in Cornwall and force down the fish and chips for a fortnight while all the 'poor people' piss off to Majorca.

    "And global warming's a lot of cock. I fucking hate this job."

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