The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

The Voters Can’t Handle The Truth

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 28, 2010 @ 09:47

OK, it was the obvious picture, but who cares...

A few weeks ago I had a small argument with a friend. The subject: spending cuts. In the end, it turned out we were rather violently agreeing. Our expectations of government are too high relative to the amount we are all prepared to contribute.

So yesterday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies thought they would come out and tell us all how much of a bunch of liars our political parties are. This morning, it is front and centre of all the papers, and it dominated the broadcast media yesterday. Political journos love it. Adam Boulton really got his rocks off attacking Peter Mandelson about the lack of information regarding where the axe is going to fall.

Cast your mind back, merely a few months, to September last year. The Tories were banging on about an austerity agenda. George Osborne instructed us all to dig out that hairshirt. Calamity Clegg jumped on the bandwagon, talking about the need for “savage” cuts. Even Alastair Darling joined in.

And what happened?

The electorate didn’t like it. It was all too real. Too bleak. Too depressing. Life is difficult enough already without the politicians seeming to revel in how much they can make it worse for everyone.

We like to pretend we want our politicians to tell us the truth, but the real truth is that we can’t handle it.

If Nick Clegg came out in tomorrow’s debate and said, “We will cut 15% from the NHS, freeze school spending, slash defence by 20%, freeze public sector pay for the next three years and look to make 10% of the workforce redundant,  freeze all benefits for the next three years and scrap all the “bribes” like free TV licences for the elderly and winter fuel payments” you can be sure that the response would be swift and damning.

The truth hurts. And, in reality, the people don’t want to hear it. It cuts too close to the bone.

Trust and responsibility in all forms of life is a two-way street, and politics even more so. Our politicians have a responsibility to be honest with us, but at the same time, they will never trust us. They will never trust us again to act rationally, because we act irrationally. We are too fickle, and too fleeting. We are distracted by whether or not Peppa Pig is going to appear at a Labour Party PR stunt. Our politicians have to talk to us in soundbites, because if they don’t, they won’t keep our attention. And worse, if they try to be more complex, it will invariably get distorted by the echo chamber that is the media.

The politicians can’t trust us to listen carefully, and the people don’t want to listen. We don’t want to listen because politicians in the past have abused that trust, and have acted irresponsibly with the power we’ve given them.

Politicians are to blame. The people are to blame. The media are to blame.

What’s truly worrying is where this cycle is going to end…

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One Response to “The Voters Can’t Handle The Truth”

  1. […] The Voters Can’t Handle The Truth […]

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