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  • Helen

Getting your boots on?

My morning walk through muddy woodland paths and puddles needs stout boots – but putting them on slows me down! I often mildly resent the time it takes to push my feet in and tie the long laces. And I think of the words, 'A lie flies round the world while truth is putting its boots on!'


Rishi Sunak had his designer running shoes and his boxing gloves on for the first Leaders’ Debate last Tuesday night. He wanted to land blows, fast! It looked as if his Comms advisers had said something like this: ‘Don’t let Starmer come anywhere near your record on: Child and Adult Social Care, Education, NHS waiting lists, medical staff, prisons, or any of the obvious battlegrounds. Go on the offensive, drop a bombshell – just say: “Labour government policies will cost every working family in this country £2000....”’


Sure enough, in Wednesday morning’s papers, the Tory Comms distraction policy seemed to be working. Rishi’s half-truth flew round the world while the more complex ‘truth’ was putting its boots on. The (Tory) Press headlines played their part: ‘Kapow, Feisty Rishi Floors Starmer over £2,000 Tax Rise’(Express) and ‘Fiery Rishi Comes Out Swinging....PM claims Keir Plotting £2000 of Tax Rises for Every Family’(Mail).


What turns out to be, if not a lie, a tissue of possibilities and fabrications, was out of the box. In what is being acknowledged by all parties as, ‘The Change Election’, discussion about precisely how change is going to happen to make the UK thrive as a society was sidelined – again! Large amounts of media coverage for the rest of the week* have been given over to arguments about whether Sunak told the truth in the leaders’ debate – and if he did, how much of the truth? The answer is – clearly not much!


But ...but...before this blog begins to sound like a party political broadcast on behalf of anyone but the Tory party, I need to ask another question. Is anyone in the Labour party or any of the other parties telling more than very partial truths? I genuinely hope that it is not only wise political commentators who recognise that the full complexity of the political, economic and international situation facing the UK is a matter that must stretch the greatest minds in all the fields involved.


The elements of the situation in which we all find ourselves and which we can all see if we look: prolonged ripples from the financial crash, the pandemic, an aging population, the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, the advance of AI would have taxed the greatest politicians in our history (whoever they were!). But first in that list has to be the ever more loudly ticking clock of the climate crisis! What difference will the size of our tax bills make if the deterioration in the climate reduces our ability to grow food? For us in the West there is clearly going to have to be a reduction in standards of living. Leaders able to tell us that, even in a palatable form, are not the leaders we tend to elect!


Up came the question last night – the first question on BBC Question Time, ‘Do truth and integrity still matter in politics?’ Of course, that’s what we all want – or think we want – until we hear the truth.


How much do politicians want to tell us the truth as they see it? Very little. How much do we want to hear the truth? Hmmm... As my friend Daniel says, 'The truth will make you free but first it will make you miserable!'


Situations vacant: leaders – who can recognise and communicate the way forward and...supporters who are prepared to hear what they say. Whatever it takes and however long it takes for us to tie our national bootlaces, we all need to get slowly used to the idea that we are in for a cross country marathon not a sprint!


*until yesterday when Sunak left the D-Day celebrations early – oops!

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1 Comment

Jun 08

Bravo ! Perspicacious as usual. Thank you.

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