The trouble with trying to spin bad news into good news

Families campaigning in Limavady on Saturday against the closure of Thackeray Place. (0705PG30)
Families campaigning in Limavady on Saturday against the closure of Thackeray Place. (0705PG30)

The trouble with people is that they can’t be relied upon to be stupid when you really need them to be stupid. They’re happy enough to play along with appearing stupid when they don’t care or when their personal interests aren’t being threatened.

It’s a different story when personal interests are being threatened.

Thus it is that people are content to accept ‘political’ spin when the proposed change isn’t going to cost them anything or cause real inconvenience.

They may, of course, recognise spin when they hear it but they’re not going to object when they don’t really care.

So it is, for instance, that police stations can be closed. When they’re being closed and people are being told it’s so they can have a better service they don’t really care.

They know perfectly well that oft-repeated mantras like, “Policing is about people and not about buildings,” are nothing but empty spin, but they don’t actually care.

It’s a different story when people are told that residential homes for the elderly are being closed to “transform” their relatives’ care. Don’t worry, they’re also told, there’ll be lots of consultation before any final decisions are taken.

Strange then, that you can drive around and see private sector residential homes springing up all over the place, after a time when few new homes were built. As I say, people can’t always be relied upon to be as stupid as they sometimes seem.Wouldn’t honesty be a better policy? If the state can no longer afford the social welfare bill and services either have to be reduced or provided on a more cost-effective basis wouldn’t it be better to tell us that? Can’t we cope with the truth? Wouldn’t it be better than deeply patronising spin?

Being taken for suckers only adds insult to injury. As usual, when there’s bad news, some of our politicians who’re quicker onto the airwaves than a rat up a drain pipe when there’s a populist issue to exploit, are strangely hard to find. Haven’t we got enough of the big issues like flags, national anthems and national identities to worry about without concerning ourselves with residential homes for the elderly?