Saturday, 11 April 2009

Does honesty pay dividends?

In my blog on Friday 10th April the heading was 'Honesty Can Pay Voter Dividends', but this was written by a newspaper editor. My intention in writing the letter was to get politicians to work together and not criticise each other. Life would be so much better if we didn't make claims to things that we haven't done and if we could always vote the way for what we felt was right. I prefer to be persuaded by argument rather than be told how to vote in a three-line whip.

When I read the heading for my letter I felt that it was not quite right. Although I like to think that the moral high ground is the place to be, sometimes the low ground gets the votes. Very often dishonesty can pay voter dividends. When Jeremy Paxman interviewed Michael Howard in 1997 he asked "Did you threaten to overrule him?" twelve times and still didn't get an answer. It doesn't really matter that the question was about the Home Office and the prison service as it is more a question of evading the question. Answer the question and politicians may seem weak. It is not dishonest to avoid answering a question and it may be seen as a strength that you can avoid troublesome questions. I would prefer it if our politicians answered questions but honesty may not pay dividends.

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