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Trust and what politicians say...

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Eddie Mair | 17:14 UK time, Thursday, 11 June 2009

what do you think? Click on Comments.

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  • 1. At 5:25pm on 11 Jun 2009, bright-eyedwendym wrote:

    How ridiculous they are. I have heard before of politicians getting media training at our expense-eg Andy Burnham apparently- but it wasn't picked up by the media itself.It was good to hear mainstream programmes last night like Newsnight and Channel 4 news actually point out the reality of Britain's deficit and the consequent reality of real cuts no matter who gets in. It also by the way kind of blows Gordon's 'I'm going to be honest from now on' out of the water.

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  • 2. At 5:31pm on 11 Jun 2009, Makeittrue wrote:

    To save your blushes,
    I feel safe and confident that anyone who appears on PM is given a fair and challenging interview. They are also given the respect of space and an intelligent hearing. No one is given the single chance of getting away with flaky/ devious/ obfuscatory answers in the hands of Eddie Mair. PMQs would be much better if conducted people like Eddie.

    Makeittrue

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  • 3. At 5:37pm on 11 Jun 2009, jiffle wrote:

    Again, the problem comes down to us, the electorate.

    In the 1992 general election, the Conservatives managed to win by scaring people that the proposed Labour tax rises would make the majority of people worse off.

    This was untrue, but the success of that accusation put the fear of God into politicians. They came to believe that no party that proposed tax rises (or service cuts) was electable.

    So Blair and Brown side-stepped this by moving direct taxation into indirect taxation - which allowed them to state that they would lower taxes while actually raising more money!

    My point is that we are very similar to California - we want the services but refuse to vote for the taxes to pay for them. As a result the politicians are forced to lie to us.

    Ultimately, politicians will not stop lying to us until we stop electing the ones that seem to offer us something for nothing!

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  • 4. At 5:38pm on 11 Jun 2009, strangeGraham wrote:

    I think too many interviewers try too hard to improve their own image and they should take some media training themselves. Few things in life are ever black or white, yes or no and government finance is the most red, blue and pink subject there could be. I think the BBC should credit it's listeners with enough intelligence to make up their own minds regarding such matters.

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  • 5. At 5:42pm on 11 Jun 2009, simonbrooke0 wrote:

    I was formerly head of broadcasting at Conservative Central Office where I advised people like Michael Portillo and William Hague how to appear and what to say on TV and radio. I now do the same for companies ranging from RBS and Visa to the RSPCA and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
    I've always told my clients that they must answer the question - not to do so just insults the audience. Once they've done this, they then have the opportunity to 'bridge' across to what they want to say but if they haven't done the 'A' (ie answer NOT avoid) then they're comments will be like a house built on sand.

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  • 6. At 5:42pm on 11 Jun 2009, margaretRR wrote:

    Please stop encouraging John Humphries & his ilk! The world is not black or white, yes or no, all the time.By ignoring conditionality & nuance, you insult the intelligence of the listener. We can decide for ourselves, we don't need everything to be reduced to tabloid headline-speak.

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  • 7. At 5:55pm on 11 Jun 2009, martin_craig wrote:

    This misuse of language issue reached a peak in the Thatcher years; remember "We're bringing in a whole WAFT of new measures"?

    When Labour came in they seemed to speak fairly frankly, until Tony Blair's "I'm a pretty straight kind of guy" assertion after the Bernie Ecclestone F1 donation row.

    Things got worse over Iraq; "Most people would agree with us for removing a dictator" in response to a question about missing WMDs.

    Then came the Hutton Enquiry, and a rash of "Most people outside of Westminster are bored with this story", followed by "We need to draw a line under this, put it behind us and move on."

    The Brown era has been marked by the most outrageous claim yet - "We did it (fill in the details) because it was THE RIGHT THING TO DO". This is so annoying, I felt compelled to write a song about it, 'The Right Thing To Do' Boogie (lyrics/MP3 can be supplied).

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  • 8. At 6:08pm on 11 Jun 2009, Stevie_b_too wrote:

    So, the argument against pr according to the Tory leader is that somehow it stops us electing our own constituency representative. Talk about a self interested & deliberately cynical cock-eyed representation of pr.
    What is to stop us adopting a system were we continue to vote for our own local constituency mp, as we do now, only instead of being first past the post we use a local single transferable vote system.
    Unlike first past the post the single transferable vote ensures that the person that will end up as my local representative, will be the local candidate that is preferred by the majority of my constituency voters over any of the other local candidates. This may not be my 1st, 2nd or even 3rd choice, but my vote one way or another will count.
    I would make two further changes to parliament to truly democratise the process.
    1. Ban the whips, making every vote a free vote without fear or favour.
    2. Nothing to get passed by parliament unless it has two thirds majority of all mps (excepting those too ill), not just those that turn up.

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  • 9. At 6:57pm on 11 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:


    "Trust and what politicians say..."

    Whoever thought of putting the words "trust" and "politicians" in the same sentence..?

    Weird.

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  • 10. At 7:19pm on 11 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Charlie - LOL!

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  • 11. At 8:00pm on 11 Jun 2009, sirtifficate wrote:

    Listening to the story of the Lady who
    lost her saving stuffed in a mattress , am
    I being cynical in wondering why and what
    a strange present to give her mother. ,and
    how did she manage to get the old mattress taken away in the short time
    her mother was out in a way that nobody could trace it !?

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  • 12. At 9:04pm on 11 Jun 2009, Dr Bee wrote:

    Jiffle @ 3 - you're spot on imo. We get exactly what we ask for. Or don't ask for.. sigh! Back to how representative the politicians really are - it's fine if you can vote for someone who you believe is being direct and transparent, but what about when that option doesn't seem to exist - or worse when you end up voting out of fear for the 'wrong' party getting in?

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  • 13. At 9:09pm on 11 Jun 2009, MickeySkinner wrote:

    Now that the press have published details on many politicians expenses, I was hoping we may get some analysis of the data.

    Specifically, some colour-coded charts spring to mind which would be quite revealing.

    1. A pie chart showing the total amount claimed by each party.
    2. A bar chart ranked by amount claimed by each MP, ranked high to zero.

    The list goes on, but at least the public could see who were the biggest offenders and who had either too much integrity or not enough nouse to fraud the system.

    The Economist does not have the monopoly on informative charts ... so come on Telegraph, et al.

    Mark Stone - Staines

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  • 14. At 10:15pm on 11 Jun 2009, edwardtol wrote:

    I heard John Humphrys interviewing Liam Byrne on Today which was repeated in the afternoon to demonstrate an unsavoury case of MP obfuscation. Byrne was being pretty evasive but I get a bit sick of this 'the public just want honesty, don't treat them as if they are stupid' rubbish as if we're all rational, media-articulate people. This current dichotomy of MP=prevaricating chancer and public=hardworking honest taxpayers is a bit daft.

    I think the above example was essentially an example of a politician uncomfortably trying to avoid giving the press an easy soundbite. If he'd stated unequivocally that cuts would be made then it would have been such an easy headline for the tabloids. If the audience is assumed to be so intelligent I'd like to know why Humphrys needed to pin Byrne down to a such a clearly defined answer. The listener should have grasped the point Byrne was trying to make and didn't need him to say 'we will be cutting public spending' for them to recognise that some cuts are likely. Humphrys might reckon he's just after the truth but I suspect he's really after a scoop! And if the the politician had relented, tomorrow in the papers it would be 'Labour to slash public spending'.

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  • 15. At 11:50pm on 11 Jun 2009, BoiledBunny wrote:

    Is it just the truth? Isn't it also serial lack of judgement? Shahid Malik being cleared? The person that reviewed his rentals and expenses did it while sat in Malik's La_Z-Boy?

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  • 16. At 11:43am on 12 Jun 2009, merrynmyatt wrote:

    As a former broadcast journo myself, I do a lot of media training with global companies and also public bodies...and I always advise them NOT to behave like politicians in interviews, because politicians' behaviour leads directly to us not trusting them....which (at the risk of being pompous) can have serious implications for our democracy. In fact, when I was a real journo, I used to start interviews with most people in positions of power by asking myself "why is this lying b*&%$£d lying to me?" Not brilliant grammar - but it certainly concentrated both our minds!

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  • 17. At 12:04pm on 12 Jun 2009, merrynmyatt wrote:

    I recently wrote an article for the magazine of the Industry & Parliamant Trust (The Bridge) on why telling porkies in interviews is bad for politicians' health (and re-selection chances!) It takes four mins to read....and full of wit and erudition! If anyone is interested, follow this link and go to page 20!
    http://www.ipt.org.uk/TheBridge
    Cheers!

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  • 18. At 09:57am on 13 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    mnm 17, Give yourself a pat on the back...

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