Tuesday, 9 February 2010

How to achieve equality - in nine thousand easy lessons

Lesson 6b - Try not to be economical with the truth

It is impossible to achieve equality unless you are impeccably honest and view facts objectively. If you allow religious or political inclinations to influence your judgment then you might end up seeing inequality where none exists and overlooking equality where it does exist. How is it possible to guarantee equality, if your application of the truth is unequal?

Consider this scenario: Harriet criticises David's Party because last year David and his colleagues voted against a bill designed to make MPs more honest. However she does not mention that John and Margaret, who belong to her own party also voted against it. What she is trying to do is make David's party look bad, without her own party also looking bad.

This is what some in Whitehall call being 'economical with the truth'. Harriet has given an account of events that is incomplete. And by doing so, she has in effect generated another form of inequality. This is because it is still generally accepted in Britain (at least for the time being) that truth is not something that you can bestow on some and withhold from others - just because it suits your beliefs or prejudices. It must be applied equally. Otherwise what you in effect end up with is something that people like Harriet often like to call 'discrimination'.