Friday, June 17, 2016

Suppressio Veri, Suggestio Falsi

In the aftermath of the appalling murder of an MP some commentators are looking at the occasionally poisonous comments made about politicians. The received wisdom of the public is that politicians are dishonest, but that is almost invariably a misreading. If MPs and others had to answer every question frankly, life would be impossible. Most of the usual questions would have to be answered with "I don't know" or "well, I hope that A happens but it might well be B for all I know." The Paxman figure would then rip the interviewee to shreds. So let's give them a break shall we?


  1. What a load of codswallop ! It's okay for politicians to lie, prevaricate, be 'economical' with the truth ? Life would be impossible if politicians were truthful ? This from a Magistrate who needs people to be truthful ? Oh dear, I knew things were bad but not this bad. Perhaps people would trust politicians if they told the truth. Perish the thought.

    1. 1 - Step away from the outrage button
      2 - Interpret what was actually written, not what you want to see in order to satisfy your prejudices
      3 - Promise me you will never apply to be a magistrate

    2. Must agree. Being economical with the truth may well be part and parcel of being a politician but what about theft? Let's not beat about the bush, fiddling ones expenses is stealing. Then there is the practise of 'flipping' houses and employing family members as 'researchers' The list goes on and on.

      Too many politicians lack integrity and that is what does so much damage to their reputation. They bring themselves into disrepute on a regular basis and thoroughly deserve the bad press they get. The tragedy in Birstall does not change the nature of the political beast. I would far rather see the emphasis being placed on the tragic and untimely death of a loving mother and decent, caring individual who also happens to be an MP.

  2. I didn't know Jo Cox: she wasn't my MP, but Batley isn't very far away, and I work with a number of people who were her constituents. She was one of those rare people about whom no-one seems to say anything but good. Judging by the mood in the office on Friday, she will be very sorely missed.

    However, I'm sorry to say that I feel your piece commits the logical fallacy of arguing from the specific to the general. Just because there are some good, if not saintly, people amongst the body of MPs, it sadly does not follow that there are no sinners.

    "We're all in it together" said the Prime Minister not long ago. Clearly untrue: the financial crash and the austerity policies which have followed have manifestly borne much harder on some than on others of our fellow-citizens. Either Mr Cameron thought he was telling the truth, or he knew he was lying but thought it didn't matter. Whichever is the case, it is for the good of democracy that the real position be explored and exposed.

    If Lord Acton's dictum is correct, then MPs need to be held to account for their actions. They are spectacularly bad at doing this themselves, and so need a Paxman, a John Humphrys (surely, by any measure, Paxman's radio equivalent) and others of the same ilk to do it for them, and for us.

    We desperately need political debate of a quality which focuses on issues, not personalities. If Jo Cox's death proves to be the catalyst for such a change, it will be a bitter comment indeed on the depths to which our contemporary politics has sunk: but never, under any circumstances, will we secure it by giving our politicians "a break".

  3. I would agree with Dave the dog. Of the thousands of people attacked and killed in this country, some nutcase now happens to have picked on an MP, AS WELL AS, another member of the public. All of a sudden the Establishment is interested. And MPs ought to answer every question frankly. Otherwise, responses simply contribute to the declining and self-deluding conspiracy of the Establishment.

  4. As far as I am concerned, this blog is intended to refer to problems/concerns/thoughts to do with being a magistrate. This post is nothing to do with any of that.

  5. SouthLondon JP20 June 2016 at 09:15

    The damage has already been done. Even if politicians were to tell the truth the whole truth and noting but the truth, those whose views are different would immediately say the politician was lying anyway. The social media twitchforks would be sharpened and the conspiracy theorists crawl out from under their stones. The genie once out of the bottle cannot be returned.

  6. Most politicians at all levels and all parties are decent people who are trying to make a difference whilst being under scrutiny. However, we get fed up with the humbug and nonsense that they publicly spout when campaigning or posturing. The lack of integrity is obvious here. Does anyone recall Boris Johnson saying how difficult it was to decide whether he wanted to stay in the EU or not? His uncompromising campaign is at complete odds with this. It is hardly surprising that we, the public, become sceptical. However, Bystander points out the consequences of not acting in this way. Perhaps all this is the price wee pay for politics under this spotlight.

    The alternative of not having a spotlight is probably even worse!

  7. Was that satire ?

  8. They got a big enough break over their expenses yet they still try it on.
    So no I will not give them a break, especially if they wish to use the term/title "Honourable Member".
    No ifs, no buts ... There has been too much of this being economical with the truth from those in authority. One has only to look at Hillsborough, the Dodgy Dossier and the Rotherham grooming scandal to see where we have ended up.
    I do not lie to my children, nor my grand children, as I am an honest man. I would expect my elected representative to uphold the same standards in public life as i do in my private affairs.

  9. Italian Laywer22 June 2016 at 19:01

    Well, tomorrow is the great day. I don't know what risult to wish for, nor what to expect. All of the best, in any event.

  10. The problem is that we have made politics so toxic that no-one normal wants to enter it. Read Defending Politics: Why Democracy Matters in the 21st Century by Prof. Matthew Flinders.

    From the blurb on Amazon:
    "Matthew Flinders makes a highly unfashionable but incredibly important argument of almost primitive simplicity: democratic politics delivers far more than most members of the public appear to acknowledge and understand. If more and more people are disappointed with what modern democratic politics delivers then is it possible that the fault lies with those who demand too much, fail to acknowledge the essence of democratic engagement and ignore the complexities of governing in the twentieth century rather than with democratic politics itself? Is it possible that the public in many advanced liberal democracies have become 'democratically decadent' in the sense that they take what democratic politics delivers for granted? Would politics be interpreted as failing a little less if we all spent a little less time emphasising our individual rights and a little more time reflecting on our responsibilities to society and future generations? "


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