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  • Lawrence Bailey

It’s not just in war that truth becomes a casualty

It’s a common trait among politicians to attempt to rewrite history. Indeed, governments being "economical with the actualité", as one former minister [Alan Clarke] once famously admitted, is almost an accepted part of the deal.

Sometimes though, it’s difficult to decide if the individuals involved are trying to fool us or themselves.

Boris Johnson told a Channel 4 News reporter that he "didn't say anything” about Turkey during the EU referendum campaign.

“Since I made no remarks…I can't disown them", he said.

In fact, he made several recorded references; including being co-signatory of a letter to the prime minister warning about Turkish membership just a week before the vote.

Home Secretary Priti Patel denied ever backing capital punishment, telling an interviewer “I’ve never in my time as a Member of Parliament been an advocate of it,”

Later footage appeared from BBC’s Question Time programme in 2011, when she stated, “I would actually support the reintroduction of capital punishment to serve as a deterrent.”

Although slightly more subtle in his approach, David Cameron’s serialised memoirs are no less a stab at memory laundering. Whether he’s successful is for readers to decide.

By comparison, Liberal Democrats made no effort to whitewash over their past at their recent conference. Instead they chose to ignore it altogether.

Boosted by a trickle of defections, the party wants to put clear golden water between themselves and a painfully equivocal Labour about remaining in the EU.

Labour on the other hand insists that Lib Dems are little more than tory-lite and that history will repeat itself in terms of post-electoral coalition pacts.

At the time of writing, things are reaching a conclusion at the Supreme Court where the suspension of parliament has been challenged by those who believe duplicity was behind the decision. It’s been said more than once that truth is the first casualty in war. Politics is patently no exception either.

All of which makes me think that the process of forming a government after the impending election is likely to be just as protracted as the wrangles that have brought us to this present point.


Independent thinking needs scrutiny

As I’ve mentioned once or twice in the past, so-called public opinion surveys are seldom an objective exercise. There’s nearly always an agenda involved.

So when you read that support for Welsh independence has ‘surged’, there’s a couple of things to take into account.

The first is that the YouGov poll in question was commissioned by Plaid Cymru. The other is that the questions posed were contextually different to preceding polls which reported less enthusiasm.

None of that takes away the fact that up to a third of those asked support the idea of independence, under specific circumstances.

However, and regardless of whether this is a ‘sensational’ development, as claimed by Adam Price or an expression of something else, the underlying message is that half still remain opposed to the idea.

For all the emotional flag-waving, past experience shows that the attractiveness of populist ‘solutions’ seldom stands up to practical scrutiny. Maybe this will be an exception, or maybe not.

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