Monday, February 27, 2006


Been watching the West Wing DVDs almost non-stop for the last week and a half. Why do goverments not do what they say they will do?

Leo McGarry, 'We campaign in poetry; we govern in prose.' Go tell.


Jonathan Potts said...

Well, West Wing is, after all, fiction so I wouldn't draw too many hard conclusions from it. It seems obvious to say, but many times have I heard people (often literature students) appeal to fiction to back up their arguments. Fiction is fine, and art reflects the word (I'd like to see the mirror), and hard facts are more boring than eloquently expressed fictions and whatever, but there's no substitute for facts. And as far as I've heard, modern British governments (Tory or Labour) tend to deliver on around 80-90% of their specific promises. Which I don't think is too bad.

Mike said...

Devolution for Scotland and Wales

End of IRA campaign

Independent bank of England

Windfall tax used to put people back to work

Sounds good put like that but did "things can only get better" really come true. Don't think so.

Mind you, where would we be after anothe term of the John Major Government...

Jonathan Potts said...

I said "specific promises" - particulars of manifestos. One could argue for ever about general promises like "things can only get better" or focussing on "education, education, education" - and probably get no-where.

And I also said 80-90%, not 100%. That means there are a non-trivial amount (10-20%) of promises that are not kept - and they tend to generate most madia attention. You may have noticed that the week before last 3 "contraversial" bills were successfully passed through parliament. Before each bill was passed, the bbc website had a link to an article on the bill on their front page "ministers faer a back-bench rebellion" etc. After each bill was passed, no link to the successful passing through of the bill was there. You were forced to search a bit harder to find that article. Compare to when a bill doesn't get through - such a story gets all the front-pages.

As St quoted: "we campaign in poetry; we govern in prose". Well one should be skeptical about the poetry; but if you get round to examining the prose, I think it's hard to be quite so skeptical. (Though I am not opposed to a measured amount of skepticism - it's goot to keep our leaders in check).

Jonathan Potts said...

Man, the spelling on that last comment was terrible! Sorry.