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Letters / Truths spoken rudely

I see from reading the letters page on Shetland News that not one, but two people have somehow managed to misinterpret and take personally what I wrote in my post The burden of voting, last week.

While I acknowledge the need to apologise for a scrappily-written submission that contained an unseemly number of typographical errors (and I do so right now, without reservation), I still have to question the fitness to vote of people who don’t understand the use of the word ‘if’.

Re-reading my letter, I note I made three ‘if’-based conditional statements – and I observe that, only if the conditions of poor or absent advice from parents or teachers was true, would the statement itself also be true.

This is what used to be known as ‘entry-level comprehension’ – but it may mean nothing to later generations, who by and large don’t seem to have been taught (or learnt) to use the English language effectively, or even to punctuate it correctly.

Also, looking at the nature of insults, which can reasonably be described as ‘truths spoken rudely’, they can only be insults if they contain truth. Otherwise, they are meaningless and inapplicable comments. The Victorians had a succinct way of saying it: ‘If the cap fits, wear it’ – and if you did, it must have been true.

As for being ‘impassioned’ – no, I’m not really. All that I’m concerned about – which is not the same thing as being ‘impassioned’ – is that we must all realise that no one can afford to make any mistakes at all in the coming polls, whatever the issue in question.

The UK generally is still in a fatally weak financial position, with total debt alleged to be in the region of 900 per cent of GDP following thirteen years of sustained attack on it (and undermining of it), by the previous administration pursuing a wilfully-destructive agenda that they were not elected to pursue.

Nine hundred per cent includes all of the off balance-sheet debt (PFI etc) which so far no one has dared to disclose, and which Brown wilfully saddled the country with when he was playing at being Chancellor.

It can’t afford to put up with any new attempts to tear it apart further; because my feeling is that we haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg yet regarding what financial sleight-of-hand and sheer incompetence New Labour inflicted on it during its term in office, and that, consequently, indebtedness to the tune of 900 per cent of GDP is very probably a drastic underestimate of the true situation.

The age gap between my generation and Leigh-Anne’s is about forty years; which means that her generation and the one yet to come – as well as the two generations between hers and mine – will be living with (and paying for) the effects of any mistakes at the coming Polls for a lot longer than mine will.

My concern is that that shouldn’t be allowed to happen – and that it’s the older generations’ general duty of care to try to see that it doesn’t. At the same time, I have to observe that firing off a couple of misguided insults followed by a parting shot is juvenile, and can put whoever does it in a position that they’d have great difficulty (and loss of face) in backing down from, if or when they realised they’d got it wrong after all. ‘If’ … such a small word, but with such a wide reach…

I’ll restate my case on intelligent voting for the last time: as I see it, the only sane way to vote on any issue is strategically, for the continued survival and success of one’s country.

A decision in favour of one candidate (or issue) over another would be based on how thoroughly researched all related matters were before casting a vote.

‘Research’ would have to include all available official sources of information – but it would also have to include an appraisal of the candidates involved, based on their reported activities (in the press and elsewhere, both in public and private life), an assessment of their body language and standard of elocution (as to whether they are, or are not, telling the truth and how well they’ve been ‘tutored’ to appear to be honest); their list of known associates and affiliations; and who their secret paymasters might be.

That’s a lot of research to do, and would be hard going: but voting on tribal lines or any other basis is no better – and no more productive – than flipping a coin on the day.

I think that the two ‘riposte’ posters mentioned above owe me an apology – but I’ll waive it, because I don’t really care; and because I’m aware that the rest of the world reading this online exchange will already have assessed those ripostes for what they are – for better or worse.

Philip Andrews