Politics. The art of dodging an answer and bombarding the person asking the question with statistics on how devastating all alternatives bar their own party will be…..
The news today (and sadly for the next few weeks) is a mix of unaffordable election promises coupled with an underlining need to explain how the other parties are wrong. Suddenly, parties are keen to help our armed forces, solve our ailing schools, invest billions in infrastructure, settle Brexit with ease and ensure that the NHS has the resources it has for so long pleaded for.
Equally, we have claims that Labour will bankrupt us with a £1.2 trillion spending plan, the Conservatives have something to hide with their refusal to release the report on Russian interference and a general consensus across all parties that having gone through years of austerity we apparently now have the confidence to increase debt burden with impunity.
John Pienaar, the BBC correspondent, writes “all the party leaders are worried trust is at stake in this election.” With respect, this misses the point. Our party leaders do not need to concern themselves with trust because there isn’t any and any attempt to reassert trust prior to 12 December is frankly a waste of time and energy.
We have become accustomed to manifestos that promise the earth and then rarely deliver coupled with a negative focus on the impact of what “everyone else is promising to do”. The current state of politics is not about an honest assessment of where we are nor is it about explaining how we are going to maximise opportunities and deal with problems. Instead it has descended into a cacophony of negatives where the road to No.10 is predicated on undermining at all costs the policies and ideas of competitors.
If we are to rebuild trust between politicians and the public then we need to see a wholesale change in the approach of our would-be leaders. Leaders need to set out clearly what they stand for whilst acknowledging the challenges that they will face. Leaders need to stop focusing on the devastating impact the policies of their competitors will bring and focus more on setting out how they will deliver and often how they will pay for their own policies. Leaders to need to move beyond the soundbite that exists today where policies are adapted to focus on whatever is popular at a particular moment in time.
I want to trust our politicians but to do so I want to believe in what they are telling me. I would like to hear a politician telling me they got it wrong – we are all human and we all make mistakes. I want politicians to stop telling me how bad everyone else is and stop insulting my intelligence that I cannot come to my own views on this. Most of all I want politicians to answer the questions they are asked.
Whatever happens in December, it will not be about trust as that is a bridge that cannot be fixed that quickly but it can be a start if someone is brave enough to focus on what they are doing and not what everyone else is.