Weasel words: commitments?promises?possibilities?


“We never made any commitments. We just made a series of promises that were possibilities.”

Iain Duncan Smith, proponent of the Leave campaign in Britain, when asked if they were going to fulfil their promise to redirect to the NHS the £350m they claimed Britain pays to the EU each week.

He gets the John Howard Medal in honour of the former Australian PM  who coined the phrase “non-core promises”.


34 thoughts on “Weasel words: commitments?promises?possibilities?

      1. I do follow “calmgrove” but I didn’t see this. He was for the stay group and hence I can see his concern about the matter. No doubt there is going to be a lot of turmoil until things settle out. However, England has never been an island unto itself. In the long run they will be far better off outside the EU.

  1. I read that Trump (or someone on his behalf) is asking for donations in the UK for his campaign. The media is being very cautious about “this might be a mistake, or ignorance, or . . .” — not accusing him of doing this. Anyway — you might be on the watch for something similar. Does Donald Trump have any golf courses or hotels in your part of the world?

    1. Not as far as I know, but in any case he’s got Buckley’s of raising any money here. Ignorance and dissembling in politicians we’re fine with, apparently, but that particular type of bragging, boasting and bullying doesn’t go down at all well here.

      1. Of course I had to look up “he’s got Buckley’s” and found an exceedingly entertaining Wikipedia story about William Buckley [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Buckley_(convict)]. Thank you!

        I was startled to see a photo of Boris Johnson today — he looks so much like Donald Trump! They could be brothers (and apparently are, politically at least).

        1. I thought you’d made it part of your vocabulary following our discussion of it re Writing is Easy?
          And if you’re reading The Art of The P you may have noticed a fleeting resemblance to Boris in one of our characters…

          1. Still packing and getting ready to leave on the next trip, but I have Art of the Possible on my Kindle for reading while traveling. You are right — I thought that Buckley’s sounded familiar. But I’m not sure that I read the story in detail. It’s all part of learning a foreign language — repetition.

              1. Midwest for a family week. Kids are coming too, and we have a goddaughter’s wedding on Friday in Ohio, three days in our home town for swimming in Lake Michigan and Fourth of July fireworks, a short time in Chicago for bookstores and seeing friends. A very busy week.

  2. One of the scary things is that so many of the Leave campaigners didn’t really want it to happen, including Johnson according to the Bullxit article in the Lrb?

    1. That was intriguing, wasn’t it? It doesn’t bode very well for the management of the whole business. And Nigel Farage is not exactly winning friends in the EU parliament with his taunts. Have a look at the calmgrove piece referred to above, you’d find it interesting I think.

    1. That’s even better because it’s completely invisible. Afterwards you can always say it wasn’t your intention. A tiny bit harder when you’ve actually promised something, though as the quote shows that can be got around. We had a complete fool of a PM who blatantly broke a shoal of promises and then told us what we thought he’d promised was not actually what he had promised. It wasn’t his fault if we misunderstood him. He is now an ex-PM.

  3. I read Calmgrove’s post. Thanks for pointing it out. It’s clear and sensible, as well as written from the heart.

    I was very surprised to wake up this morning to the news that Boris Johnson isn’t going to contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Surely this will be seen as an act of cowardice?

    And on the French news I watched a segment on the Minister for the Interior (sorry, her name has escaped me; I’ll have to look it up), touted as a candidate for leadership and possibly another Margaret Thatcher. But here’s the catch – she’s a shoe fetishist – remember our own shoe fetishist, Bronwyn Bishop, and what happened to her?

    1. I thought the same thing about Boris Johnson at first but then I read this article http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36679738 that makes it clear the choice wasn’t really up to him, whichever of the 3 scenarios you go for. His and Gove’s characters don’t come out of it too well. Theresa May is the lady you’re talking about – let’s hope she’s got a bit more ability than Bronwyn. And stays well away from helicopters.

      1. If you have a very strong stomach, read about Pauline Hanson. Bob Katter is a beacon of the Enlightenment compared to Pauline. A much stupider version of Sarah Palin with a bit of Donald Trump thrown in.

          1. Words can’t describe what a frightful woman she is. She is back in parliament only because our PM thought he was being very clever by calling a double dissolution of both houses in order to get rid of some pesky independents in the upper house who were blocking his legislation. He’s ended up with even more of them, including 3 members of Hanson’s angry, ignorant, xenophobic party. And into the bargain he almost lost control of the lower house after previously being in a commanding position there. Be careful what you wish for, is the message.

              1. Yes, it’s a stuffup of monumental proportions. And this from a man who was said to be the next great thing in Aus politicians. He’s also facing a very determined far-right group in his own party (commonly known as the RWNJ- right wing nut jobs) that’s intent on keeping us in the dark ages.

                1. We all certainly hope that they don’t succeed — just as we hope that for the U.S. Speaking of Sarah Palin, one of our senators is rumored to be on Trump’s short list for VP (he is from Ohio;his family looked around the country to find a Senate seat that they could buy for him; they settled on Alaska and carried it off, so we say that Ohio now has three senators). We would love to see that happen (for the entertainment value), but seems like a long shot.

  4. Bronwyn Bishop is a frightful Australian politician (who is now gone, thank God) with a history of spending lavishly. She was the Speaker under the loathsome PM Tony Abbott (who got the axe from his own party) and held the record for throwing members of the opposition out of parliament on the flimsiest of excuses. She finally came a cropper when it was revealed she had spent $5000 on a helicopter trip that would have taken her 1 hour by road, and it was to a party fundraiser. If you want to read the whole story and see a picture of the ghastly Bronwyn, here is a link http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/bronwyn-bishop-apologises-for-chopper-flight-following-three-weeks-of-criticism-20150729-ginf6i.html

    The Twittersphere had endless fun with memes of Bronwyn and her helicopter.
    It’s amazing that such a person could wield the power she had. She held a plum seat for twenty or thirty years.

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