Should politicians be honest?

Richard Allan thinks it isn’t expedient for politicians to tell the truth:

Complete honesty does not pay in the political interview. I heard a Minister explain how it was not sensible for us to spend huge amounts of money to have services on standby to cope with very occasional heavy snowfall. He explained that while there is criticism for failures to keep transport going this week, there would equally be criticisms if money was spent on unused services.

The interviewer then asked ’so is it just the case that a couple of days of stoppages from time to time are the price we have to pay for being careful with public funds’. Now the accurate answer to this is ‘yes’. This is precisely the calculation that has been made by local councillors who have to balance spending on immediate priorities like education and social services with putting funds into less pressing services like snow-clearing.

I willed the Minister just to agree, but he couldn’t and had to say ‘no’ and then give some more examples of how everything possible was being done. From a professional politician’s point of view this was a necessary evasion of the truth as invitations to agree with interviewers like this are a bear trap.

Oh I don’t know. I’d be more likely to vote for a politican who answered yes to this question — it’s clearly the sensible answer.

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