Ministerial masters at economy of the truth

editorial image
Share this article
Have your say

Politicians may, by and large, be an untrustworthy bunch.

But you can always rely on them to avoid a robust word when a euphemism can be found. They are past-masters at trying to soften the blow and making things seem less dire than they really are.

For instance you rarely hear the word “censorship” now. Instead, politicians use the word “redact” (which simply means edit) when they want to censor a document. It sounds so much less like the actions of an overbearing state. Equally, gullible young Muslims are now “radicalised” rather than the far more telling “brainwashed” which seems to have disappeared from favour. Probably the worst one of all was committed by Hillary Clinton when she was the US First Lady, who told a whopper about a visit she made to the Balkans. When it was revealed her claim she was at the centre of a gun battle at the airport was totally false, she finally admitted she had “mis-spoken”.

But there may have been a motive for her use of such a feeble word to describe what was clearly a downright lie. Was it to ensure that in future she would never be described as a “self-confessed liar”?

It sounds old fogeyish to say so, but Parliament is not what it was. A recent poll shows 54 per cent of Labour candidates in marginal seats at the next election have links to the Westminster bubble as advisers, researchers, lobbyists and ousted MPs. The Liberal Democrats are nearly as bad with 46 per cent.

That means more and more Members of the Commons are likely to be people who have had no links outside the stuffy political environment from the moment they left school. They are not men and women of the world, which is what Parliament should be about.

And the situation could get even worse if Labour win the next general election. There have already been strong hints that outside work by MPs, which is already scandalously frowned on, could be banned 
altogether. That would be 
disastrous. Being an MP should be a vocation, not a full-time job. 
Nowadays, spontaneity in the Commons seems to have been booted out of the window.

There are still some old-timers around who treat their work in Parliament properly. But they will gradually disappear. And we will be left with what one newspaper has already described as a House of Clones. This would be a terrible shame.