Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Dark Arts: a tutorial

I'm a novice at the game of politics, I really am. Over the years, I've tried to appreciate the subtle techniques deployed by seasoned maestri (of all parties), but I still couldn't pass Grade One. I realise there are ruses and legerdemains which help your path of action, or hinder your opponent's. But I'll be damned if I can remember them...

This comes to mind because there is a local issue creating some heat at the moment. I won't give details, for the sake of the cosmopolitan audience of this blog. But let's just say that a course of action, envisaged in this year's budget and supported, at that stage, by all parties on the Council, has now become contentious. I might have been given verbal assurances of support, but they don't count when a local member eyes a chance at re-election.

And so, I and the local member (more wizened than wise) sit in a public meeting to discuss the issue. At one point, he says something like: 'I asked for this information a month ago and still haven't got it. I think it's shocking that I and local people haven't been given the information.' The officer next to me muttered that he had only asked last week; I pointed out that last week was actually last month. As it happens, checking the e-mail trail, the first I knew about his request for information was when I saw his message of 1st August (when the relevant officers were on leave), but let's assume he'd meant to send it the day before. So he uses 'a month ago' in the sense of 'last month' (which could, of course, be last week). What a neat line that is: to create a sense of ages waiting, when the request had only gone in as the wheels of the band-wagon began to roll.

I doubt I could ever be so skilled. Then again, I doubt I would ever want to be.

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