Facts, just give us the facts

13 March 2014

We seem to be moving into a less hectic, but more frustrating stage of the campaign where information gathering is the main aim. Who owns this? Who was responsible for that and why are they now denying it? Facts are at a premium.

Churchill is reputed to have said ‘A lie gets halfway round the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on’. I prefer Mark Twain’s earlier version where he spoke of shoes rather than pants, but no matter, the meaning is the same.

Not that we are necessarily talking about lies, mind you. It is more half-truths, vague unprovable assumptions or just someone making a definitive statement of what he or she would prefer the facts to be rather than what they are.

Throughout this campaign nailing down facts was like nailing blancmange to the ceiling, and if anything it has got worse as we have made progress. I thought that this carelessness with the reality was just a general sort of South Hams-type laidbackness. Cock up rather than conspiracy if you like, but now I am not so sure.

Not everything that comes out of the US is trite, ephemeral nonsense and I particularly like the American’s duck test: if it looks like duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, its a duck. And if we apply the duck test to the evasions of the authorities? If it looks like they have something to hide, they act as if they have something to hide and if they hide things. What, then, is a reasonable conclusion?

Oh well, if it means cranking up the Freedom of Information Act then that’s the way it will have to be.

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