Editor's Blog Dec 02nd 2011

Manifest Destiny

 So, the party manifestos are out, all the promises and pleas laid-bare for your perusal and judgement. On hearing this news the general reaction has been an incredulous look followed by “What! Really?” The public’s surprise doesn’t appear all that surprising; to say the three parties have been taking their sweet time would be an understatement akin to saying Russia gets a little nippy in the winter.

 The public are given a week to make their decision, a week to untangle the warped mess of political manoeuvre and party minutiae, the promises, half-truths and outright exaggerations. Some of us remember when a party manifesto was a few pages long, now you’re going to need three weeks of free time and a notebook to get through it.

 The optimist inside me tells me that it’s a measure of how far we’ve come to see how much content has increased, how we expect and receive more from the administration. The cynic however, feels that bullet points are much less ambiguous then a wall of text.

 My big fear is that the length of the prose and the amount of time allotted to read it was a contrived move. That somebody, somewhere down the line has made a calculated decision to give us only a few days to figure out the manifesto, and make it as rambling and unwieldy as possible. It is unfortunate, but it has been proven time and again that scrutiny is a liability to any government and it’s harder to control and appease a group that makes informed decisions.

 There’s a saying “it’s easier to apologise then ask permission” and it seems very appropriate, especially when talking about Government schemes, which can only ever be seen in hindsight. If the public were asked ‘Shall we spend many millions on a theatre?’ would the whole fiasco with the Theatre Royal have happened? How about the Underground tunnel, amidst the sudden closure of all works, Caruana refused to disclose the amount spent or whether the project was even going to continue.

 We can talk on and on about ‘transparency’ and ‘honesty’ and it’s a nice rosy idea, but Governments will and sometimes have to keep secrets. The question we need to ask is whether information is being held back because it is a real security concern, or because lack of information will reduce flak from public outrage. If an administration cannot admit to its mistakes, how are we to trust its promises? I honestly don’t know whom to trust, but it seems if I want to find out, I’m going to have to get reading…fast.

 Have a terrific weekend.