Last week Owen Patterson the NI Sec State said:
“Our position is completely clear, and consistent with previous governments, you cannot have meaningful talks, serious discussions, real negotiations whatever you want to call them with people who are not absolutely committed to peaceful means of pursuing their goals,”.
Using a good Northern Ireland phrase ‘the dogs in the streets’ know that previous British governments had been talking with terrorists all the way back to the early 70’s. So is Patterson lying, just using ‘ ‘politician speak’ or being disingenuous with the truth?
This week we have the NI Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson telling us that post Claudy, ‘the Government’, the Police and the Roman Catholic church colluded to possibly pervert the course of justice and then mislead the victims families and the people of Northern Ireland. As the Ombudsman stated ‘collusion may or may not involve criminality.’
He goes on to state “The morality or ‘rightness’ of the decision taken by the Government and the Catholic Church in agreeing to the RUC request is another matter entirely and requires further public debate’
So my question is when is it ok to lie in politics?
Plato on lying; ‘If anyone is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the State should be the persons; and they, in their dealings with either their enemies or with their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public good. Nobody else should meddle with this privilege’
Clearly the big lad didn’t have a problem with it although he referred to it as ‘a noble lie’
Anyway I seem to have more of a problem with it than Plato did – especially when our Politicians do it, on our behalf, patting us on the head and assuring us that it is for our greater good.
Whilst I have no time for Marty ‘Machine Gun’ McGuinness on a whole host of levels, he has slowly achieved some grudgingly given respect with me [on one level] in that I consider that he tells the truth more than most politicians. As much as people may not like to admit it so does Lord Bannside [Ian Paisley].
I’d be interested in people’s suggestions for politicians that generally tell the truth and of course whether or not you too struggle with the concept of ‘the noble lie’ in politics…
My thanks to CMcC for assistance with the above…
Born and living in Northern Ireland, I’m a Lecturer by trade and a pragmatic Unionist by design. Interests include Middle Eastern / African politics, British cinema and sea fishing!