Monday, September 01, 2008

I understand politics, I just don't like it...

Why is it that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that the economic times faced by Britain and the rest of the world "are arguably the worst they've been in 60 years" is it suggested that he is damaging the economy?

Check out what David Cameron has to say:
"I think it's extraordinary that the chancellor said it, because – remember – a chancellor of the exchequer has got to think not only 'I must tell the truth at all times' but also 'I must use my words carefully, so that I don't actually create a situation that's even worse, that creates a crisis of confidence'."
The "crisis of confidence" was apparently indicated by a fall in the value of Sterling.

However I'm still having difficulty with the idea that telling the truth at all times is a bad thing in a politician, particularly when you're dealing with your own constituents (the British people).

It's possible there is a causal connection between what Darling said and the fall in Sterling (I don't understand currency trading enough to know if this is an entirely bad thing or not --- doesn't it mean that we'll be able to sell stuff abroad more easily?) but if Darling is telling the truth then perhaps this fall in Sterling is entirely warranted, and would have happened anyway once everyone else caught on to the Chancellor's way of thinking.

And if he's wrong then it doesn't matter either, because if GDP starts growing again and inflation and unemployment continue to remain low then things will be alright.

In short, Darling is hoping for the best but preparing (and warning us about) the worst.

It's important that politicians be honest and straightforward with the public, so why is Alastair Darling being criticised for commenting on the economic outlook? He is, after all, the government minister in charge of the Treasury.

And it seems I am not alone in thinking this, here are the results of a Guardian poll asking the question "do you admire Darling's frankness?":

Well said, Darling

There seems to be a disjoint between the public's perception (a politician not only telling the truth, but being honest and open with his opinions) and the perception of rival politicians and some in the media who see this as a mistake.

It does seem a bit overblown to say that things are the worst they've been since 1948. I'm pretty sure they aren't. But Darling is the professional so I suppose if he says it is there's a chance he's right.

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