• Doing Not Saying

    A major, nation-wide challenge to our national well-being, such as the coronavirus pandemic, is not necessarily bad news for everybody. The government of the day has no choice but to take it on the chin, but opposition politicians, and other critics of the government, can have a field day; they can stay safely on the sidelines and take potshots whenever it pleases them.

    The reason for this is simple. The pandemic inevitably presents a panoply of difficult issues, and they are difficult for a reason. The majority of them require a choice to be made between two either-or responses, neither of them attractive – to act or not to act, to do A or to do B, to act now or wait. Whichever answer is chosen will please one group of people and displease another; the government will, in other words, be damned by one group if it does and by another group if it does not.

    The choice for the opposition is a simple one. They align themselves, whatever the merits of the arguments on either side of a particular issue, with the group that is displeased and thereby create the impression that the government is always getting it wrong. How much better things would be, they say, if we were in charge – we would unerringly arrive at the right answers to all of these difficult issues. And their credibility is greatly enhanced by the automatic support they receive (whatever their preferred option) from the anti-government media.

    Fortunately, the voters are a little more sophisticated. They know that hard choices have to be made and that what matters is that they are made and not just swept under the carpet. Doing, rather than saying what you might have done, is what counts.

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