Clear and Factual Danger … what is true?

Clear and Factual means clear and factual, or does it? When it comes to government communication, citizens should get accurate and transparent information. How else can we make informed choices and react honestly ourselves? Naturally enough, a choice of spin over fact is at best annoying and at worst criminal (remember Iraq). Yet our government spends over £5 million a year on spin doctors or, put another way, distorting the truth for their own ends

Theresa May spins away

A couple of days ago, Theresa May received strong criticism for misleading the public about police funding. A senior government statistician challenged her and it doesn’t make happy reading. There she was at Prime Minister’s Question Time misleading people or as some might say, telling porkies. It turns out that the Home Office got in on the act too and tweeted unreliable information.

Bubble trouble

Are the people, inside the Westminster Bubble, who present untruth as clear and factual information doing their version of an honest day’s work? Are they trapped in a dishonest culture, like a fly in amber? Have they mindsets where distorted, unreliable information is the norm?

Even if that is the case, politicians and officials are expected to abide by the highest standards. It seems that spin is an acceptable alternative to truth, at least in parliament. Yet, there are dishonourable exceptions.

would we lie to you?.jpgFor instance, why did Damian Green fall on his sword? He departed “after an investigation found he misled both Parliament and the public.” They say there are rules and standards (even if not always applied). Some of these tenets brought the expenses fiasco back to mind.

Sign here

How did I come to find out about these parliamentary tablets of stone? Simple, I signed a petition to “make it illegal for any UK political figure too knowingly lie or mislead.” At the moment, it seems it isn’t a crime when politicians and officials lie. By the way, only 78,468 people signed the petition and therefore it did not qualify for a parliamentary debate.

However, 27 July 2016, petition closed, the Cabinet Office emailed me. I was informed in somewhat haughty language that  “the seven principles of public life apply to those who hold public office”. Furthermore, “the principles also form the basis of ethical standards expected of holders of public office” (poor old Damian). Our government let me know that the Seven Principles of Public life are:

  • selflessness
  • integrity
  • objectivity
  • accountability
  • openness
  • honesty
  • leadership

What a fabulous list. If you wish, follow the link above for the detail.

Falsehoods, Jim, and just as we know them

As a result of Damian Green’s departure and the reasons for it, I’m left wondering if our topmost politician should be challenged for dishonest communication. Then, if found guilty, do a DG?

Maybe Boris Johnson should follow suit with his financial claims from the Brexit bus. Then there’s Liam Fox and his unfortunate tweet.

Is such contempt acceptable, never mind the dishonesty? Do we citizens deserve better?

© Mac Logan