Monday, August 05, 2013

Red or Blue?

My Dad used to ask a question. It often arose at a time when he was finding my mother especially infuriating, a situation with which I am not unfamiliar.

If, he would say, your wife bought you two ties for Christmas, a red one and a blue one, which one would you wear that day?

I caught the tail end of a discussion with a government spokesman on Radio 4's The World at One today. This person was being chastised because, having announced a series of benefits for working families to have help with child-care, he had not done anything for stay-at-home parents.

Forget, for a moment, the rights and wrongs of this particular policy. I always hate it when opponents attach another thing a party could have done to a thing they have done and say 'You're not doing enough.' There isn't a set order in which the world needs putting to rights. There will be tiny changes, small victories, quick wins, low hanging fruit - pick your metaphor, I'm bored.

I loathe it when I get criticised for discussing a minor matter when there are more important concerns out there. As if there is a hierarchy of this stuff. Everything is important to someone, somewhere.

The answer to the the question about the tie was either, as long as you were prepared to deal with the question, 'What's wrong with the other one?'

So don't criticise people for doing something when the alternative was to do nothing. If the proposed change is wrong say so. If it is right don't try to say it is wrong because there was another possibility too. I'm wearing the blue tie today. Deal with it.

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