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By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

Tell me Lies, tell me sweet Little Lies

Politicians are often criticised for not being straight with the voters. But, can we handle the truth?

“The truth- you can’t handle the truth” – so says Jack Nicholson in the movie ‘A Few Good Men’ as he defends his ruthless decision-making in a wartime situation.

I wonder if that is the mindset of our leading politicians right now, as we enter week two of a six-week General Election campaign? Can we, the electorate, handle the truth?

Here is what the polls tell us. We want more money spending on the NHS. We want more resources made available to schools. We want more police. We want better quality social care. And we want to control immigration more effectively. 

Here is what we also want – to pay less tax.

Only a very brave politician, in an election campaign, would tell us that if you want better public services, then increasing taxes is the likely consequence. Also, another unpalatable truth for many, is that if we want to fix our creaking social care system quickly, we need more- not less- immigration.

Indeed, if we want to continue to be a nation that cares for its old both financially, through a very generous ‘triple-lock’ pension system (or quadruple lock if the Tories win on 4th July), and by having an infrastructure that cares for them when they fall ill – then, unless the government can somehow reverse a consistently declining birthrate in the UK, again more immigration, rather than less, is the only practical answer.

There are other relatively new problems, too, that Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer will be loathed to talk about.

The world is becoming a far more dangerous place. So, the post- cold war peace dividend has gone – and, particularly since Brexit, the UKs influence on the global stage has diminished. That means British aid to foreign countries is more essential than ever – but that is something else that polls tell us, Brits don’t like. No political leader over the next month will want to explain to you that there are huge benefits of “giving cash to foreigners.” But there absolutely are.

Of course, all of these issues are more easily tackled if we can grow our flatlining economy. The easiest way to do that is to forge a closer and more pragmatic relationship with our nearest and largest trading partner, Europe. But our politicians, and let’s face it the voters, don’t want to talk about that either. The ‘B’ word has been banished from the campaign conversation – even the Liberal Democrats don’t want to go there.

So, you may complain about how bland the Tories are, how Labour’s policies are not bold enough, and how the parties are more interested in telling us how bad their opponents are rather than what they want to deliver over the next five years. But, in their shoes, what would you do?  

The truth – honestly –  can you handle it?

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