The political dilemma
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Politicians and all that stuff. By JBP

If nobody believes anything anybody says then we cannot believe those who say they don't believe anything anybody says, because, after all, we don't believe anything anybody says. Normally it is sensible to believe some people more than other people because we have learned to trust them as the merry years trip past.

We ordinary idiots believe the BBC more than we believe politicians a) because the BBC doesn't employ spin doctors to distort events and b) because the BBC is usually asking questions rather than answering them and it is easier to ask rather than to answer awkward questions.

Any politician who answered awkward questions by saying, for instance, 'I don't know the answer to that, it's too difficult', or 'I don't wish to answer that question because it is devilish awkward', or 'The Prime Minister wouldn't like it if I told the truth' might cause such an outburst of relief among voters that they would insist on him/her becoming Prime Minister immediately Their insistence would normally have no effect whatever, but supposing it did, and he/she actually became Prime Minister, he/she would then find him/herself spinning, evading dithering, concealing, double-dealing and dot dot dot while of course gazing in deep, empty-eyed sincerity at the choir of angels singing his praises on a convenient cloud erected by his spin doctors. (The cloud would, of course, if British, collapse at an unsuitable moment, but we can't go into all that, I mean, dash it, can we, there are limits, eh?)

This is because when you've got power you don't want to lose it (a fact that we don't claim to understand but do find to be the case) and because the more power you obtain the farther you recede from reality as, surrounded by yessers, of-coursers, contradictory advisers, spinners and axe-grinders, you get to see only pieces of paper with things written on them instead of ordinarily difficult people facing the results of the dodgy deeds performed by your incompetent minions as they grope about in the dark searching for their guide-dog.

And by the way, since England has or have (depending on your grammatical preferences and the advice of Mr Fowler) several promising fast bowlers - promising, that is, when they are not crocked, cracked-up, crippled or contumacious - but no spinners who promise anything but the birthday gift of sixes to grateful batpersons, it might seem sensible to pop Alastair Campbell into the team. But no no no. No. A good spinner doesn't spin every ball. He only spins occasional balls and those at the exactly apposite moment in order to deceive the beastly batsman who finds himself playing at a spinning delivery which doesn't or at a non-spinning delivery which does. A. Campbell spun every ball so heavily that nobody believed he could ball a straight one. And may the most honest man win, provided he is also wise which he probably isn't.

How often, we ask, does that happen? Especially when you think that believing something doesn't make it true.

© JBP 2004


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