We apparently now inhabit a world that appears to be increasingly anti-fact. It's a world in which campaigners for Brexit unblushingly asserted that Britain sends £350m a week to the EU, and pledged to spend the entirety of this imaginary sum on the NHS.
Heâ€™s not wrong. Manipulating emotion does work; feelings can beat facts.Â This is why modern political campaigners love to use the words â€œpositiveâ€ and â€œnegativeâ€, â€œoptimismâ€ and â€œpessimismâ€: they enable the easy dismissal of criticism.
Thus a politician who lies is â€œrunning a positive campaignâ€, while opponents who point out the lies are â€œengaged in personal attacksâ€. Inconvenient facts can be denounced as â€œsmearsâ€, and warnings as â€œscaremongeringâ€.Â In the Scottish referendum of 2014, anyone who questioned the Yes campaignâ€™s utopian vision of independence was accused of â€œtalking Scotland downâ€. This year, anyone who questioned the utopian vision of Brexit was â€œtalking Britain downâ€.
Itâ€™s a simple but effective message. Facts are negative. Facts are pessimistic. Facts are unpatriotic.
In light of all this, I think Andrea Leadsom makes an ideal candidate for prime minister. She embodies the mood of anti-factual â€œpositivityâ€. On Thursday, during what was billed as â€œa major speech on the economyâ€, she mentioned little in the way of policy, but to great cheers spoke sunnily of â€œhopeâ€, â€œoptimismâ€ and â€œbanishing the pessimistsâ€. She portrayed the fall in the pound as â€œgreat news for exportsâ€. And, to show that Brexit hasnâ€™t harmed our economy, she noted that the FTSE 100 was up.
Critics have argued that it was up largely because our currency had plummeted to a 30-year low against the dollar. Yes, well. You can prove anything with facts, canâ€™t you?
Brexit,Comment,Conservative Party,Michael Deacon,Andrea Leadsom,Opinion,Politics,Jeremy Corbyn,News