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Tony Blair on Politicians and "The Truth"

Kirkhill

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the public choose between politicians they do not trust at a surface level which is “pretty much all of them”, according to the ex-Prime Minister, and those they find untrustworthy at a deeper level

And in that statement, that admission, that acceptance .... we have the origins of our current politics and why our politicians are less admired than used car salesmen.

They are economical with the truth ..... and they are proud of it.

And the populace reacts accordingly.


How Blair 'stretched truth past breaking point' to hold Northern Ireland talks together

TONY BLAIR confessed he "stretched the truth past breaking point" when attempting to negotiate peace talks between the political parties of Northern Ireland back in 2006, according to his autobiography.
By KATE NICHOLSON
PUBLISHED: 12:16, Sat, Feb 15, 2020 | UPDATED: 12:17, Sat, Feb 15, 2020


Boris Johnson did finally manage to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly last month after three years of deadlock, enabling the parties to have a say in future negotiations about the Irish border in post-Brexit Britain. However, the Assembly has struggled with internal conflict for years as the Unionists and the Republicans have continually jostled for power. Mr Blair tried on several occasions to pull the parties of Northern Ireland together throughout his premiership, beginning with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Yet, by 2002 Stormont was suspended once again after allegations of an IRA spy-ring within the Assembly rocked the working agreements between the parties.

Although the then-Prime Minister did unify the parties by the end of his time in Downing Street, he later claimed he only achieved through taking “horrendous chances”.

In his 2010 autobiography, ‘A Journey’, Mr Blair said voters acknowledge a various amount of manipulation was required in politics.

He explained: “Politicians are obliged from time to time to conceal the full truth, to bend it and even history it, where the interests of the bigger strategic goal demand it be done.

“Without operating with some subtlety at this level, the job would be well-nigh impossible.”

He used the Northern Ireland peace talks as an example of when the truth needed to be “bent” in order to make progress, especially when he was negotiating talks between the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein.

Mr Blair admitted: “I took horrendous chances in what I was telling each the other had agreed to – stretching the truth, I fear, on occasions past breaking point.”

He also discussed his concerns of the “whole thing collapsing” and added it was only through “creativity pouring out of every orifice” that the peace talks made any headway.

He tried to make sure the Assembly was to be recalled by May 2006, and gave the parties six weeks to elect an executive – but threatened that if, after a further three months, a multi-party devolved government had not been formed, salaries would be stopped.

Yet it was not until October that year that talks began to look more positive – a transitional assembly formed and by May, Stormont appeared to up and running.

He then confirmed an assembly election to be held on 7 March although the new power-sharing devolved government still had a rocky start as the parties went on to disagree over the very furniture of meetings.

Mr Blair explained the heated debates “came down to the shape of the table” within their shared meeting room.

He said: “The DUP wanted the sides to sit opposite each other to show they were still adversaries. Sinn Fein wanted everyone to sit next to each other to show they were partners and therefore equals.”

It was not sorted until a young Downing Street Official suggested a diamond-shaped table so the parties “could sit both opposite and with each other”.

Mr Blair also confessed in his autobiography that he is a master “manipulator”, able to play on the feelings of others.

He concluded that “the point is you need to be nimble, flexible and innovative” with the truth.

The former Prime Minister also implied that the public choose between politicians they do not trust at a surface level which is “pretty much all of them”, according to the ex-Prime Minister, and those they find untrustworthy at a deeper level.

He said: “This is the level of trust that really matters”, as it supposedly shows whether or not a politician has the public’s best interests at heart.

Mr Blair’s intervention in Northern Ireland maintained the Stormont Assembly from 2007 until 2017.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1242730/tony-blair-news-northern-ireland-stormont-boris-johnson-peace-talks-brexit-spt
 

Kirkhill

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“the point is you need to be nimble, flexible and innovative” with the truth.

The former Prime Minister also implied that the public choose between politicians they do not trust at a surface level which is “pretty much all of them”, according to the ex-Prime Minister, and those they find untrustworthy at a deeper level.

So, implications for the discussion of policy and principle.

If you cannot rely on the "word".  If, at best, the "truth" is an intention, a goal, a vision, then what is the point of fretting about discussing principle?  Principle must, of necessity, bend to "reality" as perceived by the politician.

In Tony's view, then, you are forced to rely on your estimation of the politician's character.  And how do you estimate the character? From the information that you gather - some of which you must seek but most of which you are given - propaganda. A mixture of hagiography and vitriol. None of which is to be trusted.  So the information becomes more and more scurrilous and focuses more and more on peccadilloes and less and less on policy.

More and more people get tired of the nonsense.  Some tune out wishing a pox on all their houses.  Others seek a solution in the comfortable knowledge that "my tribe is better than yours".

Tony, and Bill, and the George's and Barack and Theresa and Justin and virtually every other politician and spin-doctor have created our current politics.  But I am not sure that the politics are much different than they were in Walpole's day or even the day's of Burghley or John of Gaunt.

You still pays your money and takes your chances.

 

Underway

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Chris Pook said:
Tony, and Bill, and the George's and Barack and Theresa and Justin and virtually every other politician and spin-doctor have created our current politics. 

I don't believe that.  The electorate has created our current politics.  We elect dishonest people who tell us what we want to hear.  We elect people without forcing them to show all their cards.  If we elected forthright and honest politicians to high office then forthright and honest would be what we got.  This is on us, not them.
 

Brad Sallows

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If all the choices put before us are careless with the truth - and it seems to me they are - then it's hard for "us" not to elect them.
 

Underway

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Brad Sallows said:
If all the choices put before us are careless with the truth - and it seems to me they are - then it's hard for "us" not to elect them.

I would disagree that all the choices put before you were careless with the truth during the last election.  I have no doubt in my mind the Green Party and the Peoples Party of Canada were completely honest with the world as they saw it, and their plans for government.  And it blew up in their face because the electorate doesn't want to hear the truth.  They want to hear what makes them feel good and comfortable and that the other guys are wrong and evil.  People vote because of tribalism and habit.  There is plenty of research on this.  One only needs to look south of the border to see the most obvious of examples of loose with the truth ignored by tribalism.
 

Kirkhill

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Or, perhaps, in a democracy, a government of the people, it should be no surprise that politicians are people too.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

And perhaps we should adjust our expectations accordingly.

But perhaps, also, those attending our institutions of higher learning, need a bit of reminding that universities don't grow plaster saints either. Despite the fact that virtually every ancient university started off as a seminary, dogmatically instructing someone's version of the truth.

1636 Harvard Church of England Congregationalists (Unitarian)
1663 Laval Church of France Roman Catholic (Gallican)
1693 William and Mary Church of England Episcopalian (Deist)
1701 Yale Congregationalist
1740 University of Pennsylvania Methodist Non-Denominational
1743 University of Delaware Presbyterian
1746 Princeton Presbyterian (New Light)
1754 Columbia Church of England Episcopalian
1764 Brown Non-Denominational
1766 Rutgers Dutch Reform
1769 Dartmouth Congregationalist
1770 Charleston Non-Denominational
1789 Georgetown Roman Catholic
1827 University of Toronto Church of England Episcopalian
1841 Queen's University Church of Scotland Presbyterian

Arguably, institutionally, universities were not places where one went to learn how to discover the truth.  Universities were places where the truth resided and you went there to learn the dogma and disseminate that university's truth.

As institutions they were created to disseminate dogma.  If you wanted to think something else then you went to a different university.  Universities, and the professorship, are conditioned to be the arbiters of truth, and their graduates are their acolytes.

Have the universities changed or is it just the dogma they propound that has changed?




 

Brad Sallows

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>I have no doubt in my mind the Green Party and the Peoples Party of Canada were completely honest with the world as they saw it

Irrational foolishness isn't an improvement.  And it'd be a wonder of the world if the members of those parties didn't practice their own versions of economy with the truth.
 

mariomike

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Underway said:
We elect dishonest people who tell us what we want to hear.  We elect people without forcing them to show all their cards.  If we elected forthright and honest politicians to high office then forthright and honest would be what we got. 

Walter Mondale ( now the oldest-living former U.S. vice president ) put it this way, "We told the truth, obeyed the law and kept the peace."

Underway said:
One only needs to look south of the border to see the most obvious of examples of loose with the truth ignored by tribalism.

For our American friends, Happy Presidents' Day.





 

Kirkhill

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"There is no scientific truth, only replicable science. Then it becomes theory, but not law. And not truth. There are fundamental laws of physics that have been overturned. Law is not truth, law is law, and in science, law can be overturned."

Quoted from Clayton Fox of The Tablet.

This is the "school" I learned from. And perhaps it is the defining difference between the Arts Departments and the Sciences Departments.

One is convinced that the Ideal can be known. The other is happy with a working approximation.

 

Navy_Pete

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The funny thing about science, is usually when you look at the formulas you can use to plug in numbers and get an 'answer' is it's usually an approximation, with built in assumptions and simplifications, or based on 'best fit' to a data set, which has it's own built in limitations. So you can get an 'answer' that is accurate to 10 decimals but still just an 'approximation' that is good enough to actually knock out a safe fix for the problem.

Nothing like pointing that out to someone who has spent hours to find a formula, only to find out it doesn't actually apply to what you are doing, or is just a +/- 100% answer to give you a ROM area to figure out how to classify something.

People get really excited by detailed fine elemental analysis or 3D simluations, until you tell them that they are at best, an approximation of what could happen (with completely different things possible). Makes some nice pictures though.

That's why it's useful to do actual experiments to verify simulations if you can, but the simulations are also really useful to get an idea of what could happen and avoid problems that would crop up when you actually build something. In a lot of fields it can be very hard to duplicate experimental data with a simulation because they tend to be very complex systems, so even tweaking your simulation won't give you an exact result.
 

daftandbarmy

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Ironic. Blair is known in the UK as 'Tony B. Liar'

Speaker defends Tony Blair knighthood after backlash​

Critics say legacy of 2003 Iraq invasion makes former PM unsuitable for Queen’s highest honour

Tony Blair has been given the most senior knighthood in the new year honours. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Vanessa Thorpe
Sat 1 Jan 2022 17.32 GMT


The former Labour prime minister Tony Blair’s ennoblement this weekend, courtesy of the Queen, has been defended by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Sir Tony, rather than Sir Anthony, as he is now known, has been made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, 14 years after leaving Downing Street. But the honour has been criticised by Blair’s political opponents and those who argue the legacy of his invasion of Iraq in 2003 makes him unsuitable.

Speaking on Saturday morning Hoyle said he felt the honour, the oldest and most senior British order of chivalry, was “a fitting tribute” for a former prime minister, although he felt it was not a political decision.

“Whatever people might think, it is one of the toughest jobs in the world,” the Speaker said, “and I think it is respectful and it is the right thing to do, whether it is Sir David Cameron. They should all be offered that knighthood when they finish as prime minister.”

Hoyle was talking to Today programme presenter Martha Kearney on BBC Radio 4 when he was asked if he believed all recent former prime ministers should now be knighted.

“If you have been prime minister of this country, I do believe the country should recognise the service given. Absolutely. You finish in the office and when you’ve finished it is the respect that we give to those prime ministers,” he replied.

Most attacks on the monarch’s appointment of Blair to the order, membership of which was also given on Saturday to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and to the former Labour cabinet member Lady Amos, the first black person to be honoured this way, have come from the political left, but were picked up by right-leaning media, including the Daily Mail. The newspaper said there had been backlash, quoting satirical tweets from the veteran investigative journalist John Pilger and from former MP George Galloway.

Appointments to this ceremonial order are made without prime ministerial advice and are usually announced on St George’s Day, on 23 April. Founded in 1348 by Edward III, it is the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry and a recognition of significant public service. Sir John Major, Blair’s predecessor, was the last prime minister to receive the honour.

“It is not about politics. It is about the position they have held in this country and it’s the respect that we show to those and it is a fitting tribute,” said Hoyle.

 

Kirkhill

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The funny thing about science, is usually when you look at the formulas you can use to plug in numbers and get an 'answer' is it's usually an approximation, with built in assumptions and simplifications, or based on 'best fit' to a data set, which has it's own built in limitations. So you can get an 'answer' that is accurate to 10 decimals but still just an 'approximation' that is good enough to actually knock out a safe fix for the problem.

Nothing like pointing that out to someone who has spent hours to find a formula, only to find out it doesn't actually apply to what you are doing, or is just a +/- 100% answer to give you a ROM area to figure out how to classify something.

People get really excited by detailed fine elemental analysis or 3D simluations, until you tell them that they are at best, an approximation of what could happen (with completely different things possible). Makes some nice pictures though.

That's why it's useful to do actual experiments to verify simulations if you can, but the simulations are also really useful to get an idea of what could happen and avoid problems that would crop up when you actually build something. In a lot of fields it can be very hard to duplicate experimental data with a simulation because they tend to be very complex systems, so even tweaking your simulation won't give you an exact result.


And your simulation is the sum total of a number of approximations being run concurrently - each with a bunch of assumptions. So your simulation is still just another estimate.

Really nobody ever knows for sure what is going to happen until it does.
 
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